I stared at my computer screen and laughed aloud at the bolded word on my screen: Positivity. It was my Freshman year at college, I was battling mono, fearing an inevitable breakup, gaining weight, in the process of walking away from my Christian faith (because: #ChristiansAreHypocrits), feeling completely alone and crying hourly. Positive was the antonym of how I was feeling. For my Freshman Orientation, I was required to take Strengthquest; a test designed by famous people with lots of letters after their name that supposedly determined the key characteristics of highly successful people. You took this test and it showed you what your strengths were. As my friends got words I envied like Empathy and Achiever my five were: Woo, Context, Learner, Positivity, and Developer. What do those even mean? Positivity stood out to me. I prided myself on being a “realist”: the glass is not half full nor half empty, the glass simply contains 50% of its max holding capacity. Although, those who knew me would call me more of a pessimist. Regardless, positivity was simply not who I was (so I thought).
After I vented to my career counselor (and, let’s be real, anyone else who would listen) and was told the school would not pay for me to take a test to get newer, cooler words, I accepted my fate of this stupid test telling me “positivity” was one of my greatest strengths and started reading about it. Turns out, positivity doesn’t mean I’m a happy go lucky person, it means I desire to live in harmony with people. Yup, that’s me.
Ironically, I also have a knack for upsetting people. I developed a deep love for politics at a young age. I was raised by my grandparents, and every night I would sit with my grandpa in our living room and watch Fox News with him. I loved my grandpa dearly and this was a very special time for us. When he died unexpectedly in 2011 I began watching the news more and more to feel closer to him. Grief is weird like that.
In addition from being from a really politically conservative family I went to a super liberal high school. Some of my teachers were literally at Woodstock. So I’d sit at home and hear super Conservative opinions and then go to school and hear the complete opposite (my favorite was when one of my classmates announced during the 2012 race that Rick Santorum was going to outlaw women eating bananas…she thought that was real). I saw that both “sides” really wanted to help each other but were unable to connect. This fascinated me.
I went to a more progressive Christian college (you could kiss, they didn’t kick you out if you were gay…definitely not Bob Jones) and for the first time realized liberals aren’t evil. I took many classes in social justice and saw how God calls us, as Christians, to defend the poor, the widow, and the orphan. While I debated my views on policy in my Political Science classes, I was also faced with tough, tough questions in my Family & Human classes (is gay marriage wrong? How do we actually help poor families? Why are people poor?). I realized for the first time that many of the views I had thought to be liberal and bad, actually weren’t. At the same time, I became part of a very conservative church. A church full of loving and good people with whom I agreed with on many issues. Definitely not the sterotypical “conservatives who don’t care about anyone” kind of Christians. Once again, like high school, I was put in the middle.
Over the past few years I’ve become, what I would call, pretty moderate. I’m really conservative on some issues, and what some people would call liberal on others. Therefore, no matter what I say regarding politics upsets someone. And, remember, I do love politics (probably more than your husband loves football) so I talk about it a lot. So really, no matter what I say ends up upsetting someone. And to add to all of this, I can’t stand conflict. My life this past year has been a mess. But, not as much as this past week.
The Messy Life of a Moderate
The above picture describes my point exactly. Above is me holding a sign saying “When They Go Low We Go High” right next to a girl demanding reproductive rights. So, here I am with a bunch of women upset about the policies Trump is pushing that I believe hurt women. They have no idea that I’m adamantly Pro-Life (anti-abortion, anti-choice). There was something special/odd/comforting even about marching next to women that believed vastly different things than me, and knowing that we cared about some similar things. Needless to say, me going to the Woman’s March upset some of my conservative friends, and I lost about 100 followers on Instagram, about 10 people on Facebook blocked me (ouch) and I received some pretty nasty messages calling me a “Baby Killer” (even though I’m Pro-Life). That was a tough day for me. My actions had upset people I cared about.
The next day was Sanctity of Life Sunday. Perfect, I thought. Now I’ll make my conservative post and hopefully, my conservative friends won’t think I’m so awful. So I posted this:
It’s a picture of me and my birthmom. I described my feelings about abortion, specifically, how it’s strange for me to think that my mom could have aborted me and I wouldn’t be here. Well...then the comments from the liberals started coming. My post about the woman’s march ended up being shared in some tabloid websites and gossip columns so I had acquired many more progressive followers. Although many were respectful (and we had some great conversations) I made the mistake of looking at and reading a gossip website someone sent me where my post was talked about. The first rule of being in the public at all is never, ever, under any circumstances, read the comments. I didn’t listen, and it hurt. Some people said some really hurtful things. Specifically that I’m not confident, they would have told my mom to have an abortion with me, I’m entitled, and have no self-confidence or self-worth and was seeking affirmation. Ouch. I called my grandma crying. Because well, that hurt.
If You Take A Stand You’ll Lose People
I was reminded that anytime you take a stand for something, anything at all, you’ll lose people. I’ve lost many dozens of Conservative friends these past few weeks because of my anti-Trump posts and because I went to a March that they thought was only about abortion; and then I lost Liberal friends because I revealed that I’m still Pro-Life. As much as I want to, I can’t make everyone like me. And, neither can you. If you stand up for anything at all, if you are firm in anything at all, people will fall away.
However, what I’ve had to remind myself, and what I’d like to remind you (applause if you’ve read this far!) is that it’s not about what people think, it’s about what God thinks. We need to carefully study God’s word and see what HE says about how we should treat people, all people. And to remember that no political party will represent God. We must read our Bibles, pray, and decide then how God calls us to live our lives. And remember that ultimately we’re only on this Earth for a fleeting moment. It’s more important that you and I follow what God says than these temporary politics. We must love well and fight for justice evne though doing so will cost us.
As always, please let me know if I can be praying for you or encourage you in anyway.