Eight years ago, I was surrounded by some of the sharpest and most idealistic minds in the country. Countless conversations about changing the world happened with friends, colleagues, and contrarians at The Hawk ‘n' Dove on Capitol Hill. But today, I’m watching a new era of American politics unfold from my home outside Indianapolis, getting ready to welcome our first foster children. And I can say with certainty that it’s more difficult to live out God’s dream for you than the dream you have created for yourself.
I grew up in poverty with parents who fueled our home with the energy of God and love for this country. My father stood for the national anthem with hand over heart before football games on television in our tiny living room.
My dad got me interested in politics at a very young age. At eleven I was involved in a protest to keep the Ten Commandments from being removed from the county courthouse, a battle we would eventually lose. I attended pro-life prayer sessions outside of various Planned Parenthoods for years beginning at the tender age of seven. By seventeen I was a paid employee on the county prosecutor's campaign. By nineteen, I was running several counties for the Michigan Republican Party. I dreamed of being a Supreme Court Justice and I was working tirelessly daily to build up that résumé. Being the first of the kids to graduate high school was a big deal in my family to everyone but me. I wanted more. Going to college was an even bigger deal but I still craved so much more.
I moved to D.C to work for a conservative "do tank" just before the first inauguration of President Obama. I walked down Massachusetts Avenue January 21st, and even though I was programmed to feel sadness about the newly elected president, I was excited. I was there, in the heart of it all. I was walking the same streets that every great leader of this country has walked. I was going to museums and visiting monuments and even getting my picture taken for a membership card for the Library of Congress—a terrible photo, by the way. I was doing everything a small town girl who was raised on Ronald Reagan and the Bible does. I was going to make a difference. I was going to be a part of astronomical changes. I was one pro-life rally away from overturning Roe v Wade. I was one petition away from simplifying tax codes. I was one gracious act to the poor away from ending starvation. And then something happened.
I truly became a part of this country's central nervous system. I was hurrying to get to the metro and forcing my way through crowds the way blood fights to get through clogged arteries. I was mindlessly, and without empathy, overlooking the homelessness that obstructed the business of our nation's capital. I was growing bitter and frustrated with the liberals who were just as bitter and frustrated towards conservatives because we were always getting in the way of each other's goals, never allowing them to be fully realized. Never allowing a nation to be created that is the perfect vision; OUR perfect vision.
It would take me several years, numerous failed relationships, an enlistment into active duty in the Air Force, a husband and two kids to realize, that like the human body that tires and grows weary without Jesus Christ at the center, our country will stumble and fall over its own vision. If we fight to make this land a perfect nation and forget that there's already a perfect nation that has been prepared for us, we will fail. We may not fail at creating policies that represent our social or fiscal values, but we will fail at living out God's dream that he made just for us. We weren’t put here on Earth to live for ourselves. Asking God to give me his dream for my life so that I may be part of the biggest, best, and most important story, was in many ways, immensely difficult. I knew it would lead me away from politics and I had no idea where it would take me.
I didn't have some major epiphany. It was a slow process during which I realized that I needed the peace that comes from letting go of things that grab and distract us, often with great ideas that seem noble and worthy, from achieving the things God has sent you to do. When we let go of the fear that grips us on a daily basis, that allows us to realize his plan. And there's something so undeniably beautiful and simple in knowing that we can enjoy this day and all it brings, and do so without borrowing the problems of tomorrow, with a little faith (or a lot of faith).
We're getting ready to welcome our first foster children in March and that decision came from allowing faith, not fear, to govern our imagination for God’s plan. Everyone's journey is different and I'd never suggest that God wants us all to abandon Washington and start families in a suburb of Indianapolis. There's definitely a worthy cause on the Hill, but taking the time to actually ask God about his plan for us and commit to listening and being aware of opportunities he presents to us, could forever change the way we live our lives with one another.
“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it” (Mark 8:35).
WEEKLY ACTION ITEM:
This week, before responding on social media or in other public statements about any of the crises of the new Administration, take time to journal on how your work, your speech, and your lifestyle can demonstrate the coming Kingdom of Heaven.
Liberatus is a weekly journal about bringing Truth and Beauty to American politics, written by people on the inside. You can join the adventure by applying to write, subscribing to the journal, or by contributing monthly.
Journal Entry #98