Carla: I am pretty sure this election has given me an ulcer. I had hoped it would go away now that it’s over, but that’s not to be I guess. I was talking with my husband tonight, trying to figure out why I am so worked up over the comments and conversations I’ve been wading through over the past few weeks and here’s what I’ve come up with:
I am a woman who, until very recently, didn’t really have a sense of my own voice. I have worked in Christian publishing for 13 years and for most of those, I have felt it necessary to keep many of my opinions to myself. I have not talked about my political views or my theology or my thoughts on homosexuality or abortion or any of the other hot buttons of Christian conversation because the views I hold are typically minority views in the Christian circles in which I operate. And because I am a good Scandinavian who does not like conflict one little bit, I’ve found it much easier to sit in silence while those around me make assumptions about what all Christians think and feel and believe. I have let my feisty side come out in motherhood conversations because I truly believe that women are suffering because of the false, unbiblical messages the church had laid on them for so many years. So while I’ve been willing to take some hits to bring down the monolith of bad parenting philosophy, I haven’t been willing to have endless–and pointless–conversations about other issues that I know will end badly and solve absolutely nothing.
But I have felt a bit braver lately and been testing the waters a bit more in the hopes of being more truly myself in the world. I have started laying some of my opinions out there to see what happens. And let me just say that with a very few exceptions, it has not gone well.
This is where my ulcer is coming from. I want to be able to talk to my brothers and sisters in Christ about politics. I want to be able to be honest about what I think about cultural issues and not have my faith questioned because of it. I want to hear what other people think and then have them listen to what I think (one friend did this very well–you know who you are, Kim). I want people to assume that I am intelligent and thoughtful and have good reasons for my beliefs and that just because we disagree, it doesn’t mean one of us is an idiot.
The other day my neighbor was telling me about a mom’s ministry she’d been going to. She said she’s struggling to build friendships because the women she’s met all assume every Christian shares their political beliefs and she’s worried that if she is honest about her positions, they will either argue with her or flat-out reject her. So she stays quiet and knows she will have to be careful about when and how she lets down her guard. That’s so sad to me.
We want to create a conversation where there are no assumptions about what we believe or don’t believe. Where every woman knows she is free to be who she is and that she won’t meet with derision or distain. Where differences are seen as a chance for us to learn from each other. Where we start from the belief that we all want the same thing–happy children, healthy relationships, lives that count for something, a better world–and that the details of how we get there are not really the point. We want our voices to be heard. We want your voices to be heard. But we will not shout each other down in our efforts to be heard. I’m not really talking about politics here, I’m talking about everything–from elections to homeschooling to marriage to money to why Target is so far superior to Wal-Mart. We can disagree, but please please please, let’s disagree with an eye toward true conversation, not a need to convince each other of anything. This, perhaps more than anything else, is what the Revolution is meant to accomplish.
One of the many things I love about Caryn is her acceptance of me. Honestly, we could not be more different on so many of the issues that have come up in this election. But we haven’t had one ill word between us during the whole thing. We have talked about the places we differ. We have even joked about them. But I know Caryn is a smart woman who has clear, well-thought-out reasons for why she feels the way she does. And I know she believes the same about me. That’s what we want the Mommy Revolution to be about: Women who recognize that there is so much more to do with our time than argue and try to prove ourselves right.
Caryn: Let me just start that I can’t believe you’ve ever even had to DEBATE that Target is superior to Wal-Mart! You don’t need people who think otherwise in your life, Carla. They are brazen fools. Life’s too short. That said, my babysitter DID have a cute pair of shoes on today. When I asked her where she got them, she did say the big W-M. So I may be running there later this week and forking out $9.88 for those cuties.
But anyway, it’s interesting you write this today. Up until my unfortunate unfriending on Facebook due to my political views, I actually didn’t realize how ugly things had become. Maybe I’m dense, but I ‘ve always thought it was FUN and INTERESTING to have friends who disagreed with me politically, philosophically, or spiritually. I like hearing people’s views—and poking and teasing where I think they’re nuts—because it sharpens and stretches me. It didn’t occur to me that some people would actually HATE me because of my beliefs (for my beauty, sure…). And yet, they do.
I think Facebook—as much as I love it—has heightened this for all of us. We’ve all made ourselves vulnerable to “attacks” by speaking up and out. And we’ve made ourselves vulnerable to hurt when we see what others write, what groups we join, what articles we post and videos we mock.
But I think it will get better—and will work toward the good. Because like you, I never really promoted my own political views in a desire to be liked. But I also made a lot of assumptions running in the world we do that are way off base. (Note to Wheaton College: What in God’s good name are you teaching over there that you’re turning out Liberals left and right?!?!? Whatever it is, stop it. Or for crying out loud, let those kids drink–so they don’t rebel in their voting!) And I think it’s cool that we have anything going that shoots down assumptions and lets us see the “real” in each other—even if we don’t agree with it.
All this to say, Carla, you keep on being yourself. And keep on sharing your views and your thoughts—no matter how tomfoolery-icious they are. I think you’re fab even when we disagree. I actually LOVE that we disagree. It keeps things fun—and it keeps me on my toes. In fact, today I DON’T have an ulcer because we have a president I know YOU helped elect. And I think, if Carla likes him, he can’t be that bad. (And if he is THAT bad, I’ll have so much fun blaming you!)
So—everybody, lay off Carla!
Carla: And Caryn too! I’m concerned that this post comes off as whiney and thin-skinned. And maybe I do feel a little beat up from the last few weeks. But my intention is to say that I long for a place where we can talk about our lives with openness and honesty and not worry that we’re going to be blasted for not holding the same views as others, especially by other Christians. I want this to be that place.