So Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the phone call that I would be laid off. Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of that lay-off. It is also the two year anniversary since I first publicly shared my personal story that started this blog. Tomorrow, January 15, is a big deal for me and I thought perhaps it might be a good time to begin dipping my toes back into the world of blogging.
In many ways this past year has been one of the most beautiful years of my life. I didn’t go back to full-time work. Instead, I began working part-time with our church, doing some more photography, and a LOT of thinking about what a successful life looks like. We dipped further into our savings than we originally intended, but it was an investment in sanity that neither I nor my husband, regret. I’ve found my path forward, and I have peace and excitement about the rest of my life that I’ve never felt in all my (almost) 45 years. More on that later.
In other ways, this past year has been the most challenging year of my life. Just as I felt like I had all the momentum going in the right direction my health turned for the worse, my son broke his foot, two weeks later my husband broke his leg, my daughter needed her tonsils out, we ended up at Mayo to figure out my issues, and then both my mom and Greg’s mom had different medical matters/procedures to round out the year. It felt like the universe conspired to break me, and now that I’m in this new place, I think that it probably did. Thankfully.
And here we are, anniversary eve day. One of the most surprising things for me from this past year is how little I’ve written on my blog. That was what I was most excited about and the one thing that I knew, no matter what direction my life went, I would maintain. But as the year progressed and the world seemed to catch on fire I found my mind too weary to put words together. Too confused by the differing beliefs of people I love. Too scared of this new world.
The first thing I was going to write about was gun control. We had all these shootings going on, and I wanted to do a balanced piece on gun control. I went to coffee with a conservative friend via social media that I respect, and we explained our ‘sides.’ It was an educational and kind exchange. Neither of us was swayed, but we also left friends – my primary goal. I also left with a better understanding of his concerns and was excited to include those in my writing, but every time I sat down to write I became so disillusioned by the snarky meme’s and the name calling online that I just didn’t feel like anyone had the energy or desire to try to understand the other point of view. I was weary.
I wanted to write about race. I’ve done years of really hard work understanding our history from the perspective of our black brothers and sisters in America. I’ve read eye-opening and illuminating books that shed light on incarceration practices and indirect and direct benefits of societal constructs that I didn’t even appreciate and couldn’t see until talented writers gently revealed them. I’ve attended classes and been a part of online communities that have hard conversations that are offensive at first and hard to hear past the pain at times, but I had tried my best to do just that. I wanted to share what I had learned and try to write about those things in a way that maybe people could hear. However, the noise was so loud from the two opposing sides that I knew a small voice, talking about what felt to me like the middle, would be trampled, vilified, or simply ignored. I was weary.
I wanted to write about LGBT and transgender issues. I wanted to write about how these issues were impacting real people. I wanted to write about how the words that we use on social media and the meme’s that we post impact, real people. I wanted to write about suicide rates and homeless rates of LGBT youth. I wanted to show a different side of the issue than what the media portrays and talk about a different way of handling the issue, but the noise was so loud. I was weary and becoming afraid.
I wanted to write about planned parenthood and abortion and real ways to reduce the number of abortions that happen in this country. I wanted to point to actual programs that have a significant impact on improving the lives of our impoverished children and parents. I wanted to talk about how little the legislation has to do with what is in someone’s heart, and how caring more about the men and women, and less about the laws, would make everyone feel more human and have more impact than any law could. I wanted to talk about my reality and the reality of other’s stories that I had heard, but I knew that people’s opinions would matter more. I was weary and in this, I was certainly afraid. Afraid for me, but more for the women who would have to read any vitriol in the comments, because I can still remember how damning those comments used to be and how dangerous they were to my ability to see God’s love for me.
I wanted to write about our now president-elect. I wanted to write about how for many women who had been date-raped, abused, groped – hearing his words is traumatizing. The idea of him in office is horrifying not because of policy or politics, but because of who he is. I wanted to write that it doesn’t matter if you feel like the alternative is worse, or you think it is hypocritical, or anything else. Your opinion of my, or anyone else’s reality, doesn’t change it. I wanted to explain as clearly as I could that when his face comes on the screen, many of us see a sexual predator and there were 17 other Republican candidates that entered the race in March of 2015 that may not have been the preferred candidate but who would have been light years better. But the thought of having to talk about the Clinton’s or anything besides exactly what the issue is made me weary.
But here we are – it’s 2017. Mr. Trump will be sworn in soon and many of the issues that I’ve been concerned about for years, are set to come to the forefront of our collective dialogue finally. I’ve decided to look at this election as a catalyst for our country to get together and have the hard discussions. This is a wake-up call that to sit on the sidelines and scream at the players is not the same as being in the game. So I’m going to start writing again. I’m going to find more ways to be in the game.
For my conservative friends, I pray that you will keep my blog in your feed and that you will read what I write. I write with you in my heart, with a goal, not of converting, but of explaining. I want to write not to inflame you, but to allow you see inside my heart and perhaps gain a new perspective on how someone who reads the same Bible and purports to love the same God can come at something from such an alternative point of view.
For my liberal friends, I pray you also keep my blog in your feed and that you will find some comfort in my ability to put words to what so many of us are struggling to comprehend and walk through. I know that many of you walk the same line of having friends and family on both sides of the political spectrum and our ability to talk with one another and be heard is a lifeline both sides long for.
We are doing a series at church called You Belong, and I realize that I belong too. I’ve been so worried about what others think. I’ve been so concerned about not going far enough in my writing for some or going too far for others that I’d forgotten that I write for me, because I belong, too. Your opinions matter and I care what you think, but no more than I care about what I think. I get to have my voice no matter what my position is or my job. Regardless of who my friends are or how much we differ, I still belong. I get to believe what I believe as long as I stay open to hearing other’s opinions and acknowledging that I might be flat out wrong. Because you matter and I wholly and completely believe that regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum you belong, you should be heard, and you should have a seat at the table.
And, I belong, too.