Monday, November 10, 2008

My current state

I just ate a snickers bar, you know a full sized one – not a leftover halloween mini, that I had to stand on my tippy toes to pull down from the top shelf of the pantry. I then broke my feet and my shoulder again to reach a bottled coke, stored in the back of a costco box on top of the freezer in the garage. I froze the liquid delight for too long and opened it to find myself repeatedly slurping the rim as it sat like a fiesty volcano on my kitchen island. Of course a little bit leaked over the side, which just made anyone who knows me a bit cringe for my sake and also know that my next move was for a napkin to wrap around the perimeter of the liquid delight bottle. Moments later I became Joey, if you know him you know what I mean, and rebuked Jason as he put the bottle to his lips and insisted he pull away from it. This was less than thirty minutes after writing a blog on the topic “romance” for my writing group. Somewhere in there I wrote about selflessness being romantic. Hmm. With Jason upstairs now, the room is quiet, except for an occasional chug. I haven’t yet stored the puzzle pieces back in the ziplock bags or picked up the wipes that always find themselves drying outside of the package. Socks are a room away from their pair and a dirty diaper lies where it was air bombed from the other side of the room hours ago. “Melmo” and “Mammy” lay peacefully and awkwardly on the floor. A dustbuster is conveniently sitting on the chair and all four remotes have been misplaced. And exercise ball is apparently part of my fall decor on one of our living room tables because it’s been sitting there so long that the layer of dust collected over weeks has fallen around it. My knees feel tight sitting here and I straighten my legs every once in a while. It reminds me of hospital bedrest and I think of my friend. I am wondering when the dittle bug in my belly is going to wake up from this sugar rush and give me something to get distracted by. I felt him for the first time nine days ago now. Jason got a text from me while in a meeting. I like it when I lay flat and can see the shape of my uterus forming. When I stand up all my belly just rounds over it and I can’t tell what is left over twin babies, what is me and what is the new baby. I’m sitting on my living room couch, purple blanket my mom gave us for our wedding gift tucked all around me, particularly tight over my feet. My toes curl over each other and are frozen there, staying warm. And this belly is tucked right at the edge of the computer. I just had my first tired moment of the night. I yawn and realize that it is exactly 10pm. I would laugh if I weren’t tired. I am amused in my head though. I do a lot of my living from in there, in my head, Jason always reminds me. I’m realizing what an introvert I am. My cold white bedsheets are starting to appeal to me, though walking from here to there makes me want to take a nap here for a while. I’d have to gather the half of my clothing I’ve already removed, turn off lights and waddle upstairs. Another swig of my coke goes down. I’ve only had half. Just had an instant of guilt for not giving my love that sip – I never finish anything I drink. Ten o three. Not lasting much longer here. Ni Ni.


Read my hubby's blog. I like his brain.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Live Justly

We had a friend over for dinner the other night who I’ll call Friend. Friend is quite an interesting character and has lots to say on more than 80% more topics than I know anything about. I welcomed him into our home at the beginning of the evening, brain-fried from a long day with one year olds. I did a lot of staring and playing with the girls while he was at our house. Somewhere between cooking and eating our hot sandwiches, politics came up and said Friend announced that he doesn’t vote. This totally shocked me since he’s so in to everything. I think he thinks it won’t matter and all that’s important is getting the gospel out there.

Pretty much ever since this conversation I’ve gone back to this in my head a number of times. I feel disturbed, yet I understand a part of what I think he’s getting at based on my own story with politics.

I grew up in a diverse political family in the south, but mostly our immediate family declared us Republicans. Some of the family influence had a heart with a fierce, “let’s get those damn yankees” type shell. Republicans are the good guys and Democrats are the bad guys. Whatever the Republicans do and say is right. Even when a clear mistake is made, abundant forgetful grace is poured out, whereas a vigilant scrutiny stands for any trippings on the other team. I'm not excluding my own thinking here. I wore my own white hat with pride.

I remember taking this similar philosophy into religion with me when I got serious about my faith in high school. I felt I had the white hat on and all the sinning non-christians had black hats and were bad people, unlike me. I had to be perfect to maintain the title Christian and if I messed up, you had to do the sweep it under the rug deal that us Republicans did with our abundant forgetful grace. Homosexuals were bad. Heterosexuals were good. Drinkers were bad (be it one beer or ten). Abstainers were good. The sexually active were bad. Virgins were good (even if it’s only technically a virgin, sweep the rest under the rug). This mentality actually made a destructive legalist out of me and warped my every relationship until around age twenty five.

There was one particular influence that had a slightly different twist on politics for me, though I'll leave out the who, at least on this post. Let's call said person Bob. (Not my uncle by the way). Bob questioned everyone, even his own team, especially his own team. Bob’s general philosophy is that America used to be perfect and now it’s completely corrupt and it sucks. Bob started out as a Republican and began slowly to notice that his party wasn’t exactly pristine. It had cracks. Big cracks. And it seemed to him like the parties were all looking the same. Whether a Democrat or a Republican were in office, similar decisions were being made, all going in a direction that seemed to Bob to lead away from what our founding fathers would have wanted. When I think of the founding fathers of this country I think that is where Bob has thrown all the good hats he knows about. Everyone who was good and just lived in the 1700’s when they created this country and everything was perfect then because government was not yet tainted by sinners like we have in office today. So he registered independent. I remember him getting excited about one independent, or true Republican, after the next. Ross Perot. Pat Buchanan. Most recently Ron Paul. I think he fluctuates between going underground altogether and endorsing the newest maverick underdog as the one savior for this country. I may sound cynical how I am writing this. I don’t think he’d like my evaluations or maybe just how I am saying it. Truth be known, Bob is probably the most influential person I’ve ever known politically and it played out in my life in ups and downs. But overall I respect his political critique.

But in the prime of teenage years, around the years that we were talking about the New World Order and antichrists and all kinds of conspiracy theories, I kind of bought into it all. I didn’t want to be a Republican. I traded my Friends of the Earth magazine in for the New American and printed out articles on what hogwash the environmental crisis is. I remember small obsessions about black helicopters and the Oklahoma City bombing being government produced and the anti-constitutional actions taken during the Waco incident. Let’s not even get into the year 2000. I would lash out at home at my family if they dismissed these political accusations. They didn’t know what to do with me and I think they thought I was a little crazy and brainwashed. I can clearly remember having a conversation with a friend about all of this outside of my house in my car. I was really worked up and crying about it all because I didn’t know what to do about it. (Future mental note – this is a good reason to not overwhelm a hormonal teenager with issues they don’t have any control over). I remember feeling like if I didn’t do something then I’d have a chip under my skin and the tribulation would be in full effect as of next week.

Around college and pretty much ever since I’ve been out from under that camp. Although ever since I have also still been impacted and do not trust either political party one lick. I still vote. I vote Republican. But I vote because someone has to do it and since I can’t pick the nominees, I can only pick what I consider to be the lesser evil. All of this influence on me early on did leave an enormously impactful stain on me that I can’t trust anyone in politics. And actually that's about right.

My most freeing season from all of this was getting into the calvary chapel in California but mainly Mars Hill in Seattle. My legalism was shattered and a Jesus grace centered approach to my life altered everything. I saw myself as ugly as I really was. And I saw Jesus as beautiful as he really was. And I saw everyone that way. He’s the only good guy. The rest of us are screw-ups and need him. And if we act like we’ve got it together don’t trust us. It’s not real. So living in the truth of being a genuine sinner in need of constant washing of grace also transformed my politics. Bob’s influence was right in this area – I can’t depend on anyone to be my savior except my Savior, Jesus. HIS Kingdom is the prize I lean foward towards at the end of the race. That is my hope. That is when peace and perfect justice will reign. That is when all lost will be found and all broken will be restored. And in the meantime we’re just juggling broken pieces, trying to not let it all fall. I also saw that in Romans 13 it says that he appoints all rulers and authorities that have ever existed and who will ever exist. This means that sometimes he appoints people I didn’t vote for. Imagine that. God uses rulers for his purposes. He doesn’t think there’s a good guy or a bad guy either. He carries out purposes and he allows decisions to be made for a nation that sometimes are evil, because he turns us over in our sin. And sometimes in turning us over we see his wrath here on earth in our very nation. But mostly we see his wrath held back by a strong patient arm of common grace. He will tread the winepress of the wrath of his fury when he comes again and I do not want to be under his feet in that day.

So if my hope is in a future Kingdom, why do I vote now for an imperfect president who God is just going to appoint anyway?

When I vote, it’s not just for a person, it’s for everything that they will be putting their hands to as they work and carry out the wishes of the people. It’s all the issues under their feet that I am concerned about. It doesn’t mean that I believe John McCain is my savior. I certainly have a zillion doubts about his ability to be that. But I see the issues under his feet and when I look at Scripture I believe the Lord has put some things under my care, as long as they are up to me.

For example, James says that “Religion God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” So in my life (not focusing on politics right now), I am to be living as a believer by looking out for the widows and orphans. So today these are called social issues. The foster care system is a social issue that God cares about. Jason and I have a huge heart for this right now. So looking up the ranks at how to be the best advocate I can for the orphans in distress, I must look all the way up to the government because they supply funds for these children. If I never look this far and only bring them a $25 gift at Christmas, I am not being the best advocate I can on this issue. This is just an example.

There are many open handed issues in politics. Taxes. Health care. War. Etc. And everyone may have different convictions, even as Christians. I got on a website the other day that listed all the issues that McCain and Obama have made statements about and it also showed their voting records on these issues until now. There were like fourteen of them. In my mind, to decide who to vote for, I have to prioritize the issues. I'm not 100% a certain party. I doubt anyone is truthfully. But we can't pick and choose our issues, we have to mostly agree with one party. So for me, I it's not about how many issues I agree with on one side, but the weight for me really gets heavy if it's a moral issue that goes against the Word of God, what God says is wrong but culture might deem alright. Namely I am referring to the right to life. This is where a "closed handed" issue (something not up for discussion but already is decided by God) weighs much more to me than "open handed" issues (issues up for discussion, you have to go by your personal convictions).

So are there any political issues on the table that would actually go against the moral authority of the Bible. Yes, abortion. This is why I don’t think I could ever ever ever ever ever vote democrat. Because if I prioritize my social issues, this is number one because murder is a sin and is obviously a closed handed issue and not something I can get around. It’s not like I can say, well abortion is murder but I don’t mind if my guy supports that as long as we get out of Iraq. And also I am responsible for what I vote for. How can I allow myself to be responsible for partial birth aborted babies? Babies who look just like babies in the hospital every day except a little smaller? Why are they worth less than a little more freedom for the individual who decides they don't want them? I know it's not always that black and white, though many times it is. But even in all the complicated issues with abortion and all the excuses that seem so valid sometimes to an individual, I still cannot get around the fact that abortion, in particular the sickness and wickedness of partial birth abortion, is killing a child and stealing their right to life. All their potential joys and smiles and relationships and hugs and hopes - stolen. Murdered. Most of the time for a little more "freedom" for the one who paid for that murder.

So back to prioritizing issues, I allow the Bible and the Holy Spirit to prioritize these issues and then I feel I have a responsibility according to Micah 6:8 “He has told you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” This verse, among others, pushes me towards living as justly as I can and wherever possible, however possible, even if it’s one vote towards life, to live out Christ’s loving justice on earth.

So for these reasons, and even with the background I am coming from, I have a strong desire to keep voting. When I vote I do feel kind of sick usually. Part of me feels like, yeah, something is going to change. But most of me feels sick and hopeless. Because this world is evil and most people don’t care about the Jesus and what he’d like to see around here. But I do know there is a Kingdom which will be ushered in without the vote of the populace. In fact I know the populace has already voted it down in their living. And that Kingdom will reign with the true justice we all long for. And on that day my heart will be freed from worry and concern and I will carry the weight of all that is wrong on my shoulders no longer. Praise to His glory.