Freedom

Surviving & Thriving In An Election

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I named this blog “Loves Jesus & America too” because of my love for my faith, and also because of my love for this incredible country I get to call home. Most of the time, I share about my faith and how that relates to my lifestyle—my marriage, family, farmhouse, and more. Sometimes God places something on my heart that’s a little different, maybe a little more controversial, to share about. It can be hard to share things that have the potential to be divisive, such as particular views on a topic like politics. However, I really feel that as a Catholic woman in America, it’s important that my voice be shared among the many others that often seem to speak louder.

Something you may not know about me is that I actually love politics. While election seasons can be discouraging and exhausting—I also find them absolutely thrilling. I know, it’s weird. Moving on, I’ve been interested in elections since I first voted in a school election. I remember it well; it was the presidential election of 2004 and I was in fifth grade at the time.  With my dad and brother’s military backgrounds, topics of politics and world issues were always discussed in my family growing up. As I got older, I became more and more invested. I attended my first March for Life in high school, and was captivated by all of the people there marching for change. On my 18th birthday, I registered to vote. During college, I actually created a political blog—but it only lasted for a short time. While I enjoyed writing on the topics of politics, it began to bring me more stress than joy. I’m both proud and embarrassed to say I also incited quite a few political bloodbaths online. Don’t get me wrong—it is necessary to stand up for truth. We need to share our voice with this world, and it can feel pretty darn good to prove that jerk from high school wrong. However, I began to wonder if this was truly how God wanted me to use my voice. It took a lot of self reflection, prayer, and humility to admit that while I must use my voice to stand up for the truth, I also must use it to bear light to those around me, rather than throwing zingers their way and bringing them down. I slowly made a conscious effort to shift my focus from being right to being kind.  While I believe that I may very well have to answer for who or what I vote for at the pearly gates someday, I know that I’m definitely going to answer for how I treated those around me and whether or not I loved as Jesus did.

Please don’t mistake these words for weakness. I am strong in my beliefs, and you should be too.  I share this story because I think that regardless of what side of the aisle we’re on, we can all be quick to be judgmental, dismissive, and unkind. I feel that our generation struggles more than previous ones with tolerating those who have views that are different from our own, and it’s not helpful to any of us.  Recently, there was a controversy in the news and I had privately messaged a few friends on Instagram who posted something that I disagreed with. I wasn’t looking for a fight, I was inviting them into a conversation in order to better understand their viewpoint and hopefully help them to understand mine. Of the several friends I messaged, one wrote back. That friend and I had an extremely fruitful discussion that I think softened both of our hearts and enriched our minds. After I had that conversation, I thought of the other friends who immediately dismissed me for having a different view than theirs. We will never have the opportunity to understand one another better because they chose to not engage with me. If we aren’t able to enter into a discussion with one another, how are any of us ever going to achieve any type of positive change we are searching for? We need to pump the brakes on our emotional reactions in order to engage in productive conversations with one another. The only thing worse than shouting at one another is ignoring and dismissing one another completely. When this happens, there is no relationship, there is no understanding, there is no progress, and ultimately there is no love.

As for voting, get out there and do it! I really do believe it is your duty as an American and if you’re Catholic like me, it’s also your obligation to exercise your right to vote in every election. We need to take our responsibility seriously and value the sacred freedom we have. There are a few things I like to remind myself before I vote. First, take the time to educate yourself and prayerfully discern how you should vote on large and small issues alike. Sift through all the noise (God knows there’s too much of it) and make an educated and prayerful decision. While doing this, I try my very best to pay attention to policy—not personality.  I feel it’s extremely important to allow my faith to inform my choice and to be acutely aware of where the Church stands on important issues. Catholicism is not relativism—there is a correct way to vote as Catholics. There are several issues that are non-negotiable according to the Catholic Church. These issues include abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and marriage. There are also issues that are extremely prominent in our world today such as immigration and healthcare. I feel that not only our nation, but our world as a whole falls short so many of these categories because we do not fundamentally value human life.  For me, it’s really obvious that the right to life is at the core of all other rights. How do we expect our society to value human life while we are killing our children? Whether it is the poor, the marginalized, the elderly, or our very own children, we are unable to see the intrinsic value in each and every human life. I believe that in order to enact change in nearly every arena, we need to shift our mindset and value all human life, especially those that are the most vulnerable. This is where it all begins.

While I encourage you to get out there and vote, don’t stop there! I encourage you to talk to others about the issues that matter to you.  Allow yourself to be heard, and listen to others too.  Most importantly, pray for our leaders. I feel called constantly to pray for local leaders, our nation’s leaders, and our world leaders.  As a Catholic, I believe in the power of prayer, and as I pray for our leaders I ask that God’s will be done in our world. Praying for our communities, countries, and the world also brings my soul immense peace at a time when I can feel restless.  God bless you & the good ol’ USA. Happy voting, friends!

2 thoughts on “Surviving & Thriving In An Election”

  1. Beautifully written, Katherine! I often don’t share my own political views for the reason you mentioned. Openness is so important, and while I’ve been open to hearing different views from my own- it sadly, doesn’t mean others- even friends and some family will be open to my thoughts. And that is sad and unkind. I agree we need to be open to not only speak, but listen. That’s the only way we can grow and understand each other. These sorts of conversations shouldn’t be a fight, but many others make it that. Keep up your great work! You’re a great role model for others!

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    1. Hi Sam! I completely understand where you are coming from. It’s hard when you are trying to be tolerant and understanding of other views (while being strong in your own of course) and others don’t pay you the same respect. I guess we can continue to be witnesses and hope that by setting an example, others will follow!

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