*Contented Sigh* It’s November. The beautiful season that brings so much change. Leaves turn beautiful colors, crimson and gold, and scatter the ground. Boots and scarves make their way out of the dusty recesses of the closet. Starbucks continues it’s coveted Autumn menu. Pumpkin Spice, we want to marry you and have your tiny, orange babies.
Or you live in Texas, it’s 10 degrees less hot and everyone wonders why the pools are closed. But Texans enjoy the theory of Fall, even in our flip flops. It’s a reminder that things are seasonal. The extreme, excruciating heat of the summer is behind us, and cool relief lies ahead. Fall brings hope. And change.
(Even though I just used the campaign slogan of a president that I did not vote for, take note of the beautiful segue into politics.)
Are we there yet?
How much longer?
Can we stop?
Make it stop.
It’s like a long car ride through the dessert. We are headed somewhere, but it’s taking a long time, and it’s monotonous and blank and makes me want to down a bottle of Benadryl. Wake me up when it’s over and we’ve arrived at a destination. Please for the love.
I know I am not alone. I am not the only one who wants to close her eyes and wish our pending reality away, but I know one thing. Sleeping through it, won’t change it. Deciding to stay undecided isn’t a decision. It isn’t a stand. It’s a denial of reality. And denying reality doesn’t solve one single thing. Would it be too far to say that those who ignore it, are the very ones responsible for the predicament in which we find ourselves? Those that chose to remain silent through the primaries determined the primaries. Those that will choose to remain silent during the election will use their voice in the most ineffective way possible.
Last week, I voted early. I loaded up my preschooler and drove to our public library. I stood in line, identification in hand, to cast my ballot. 2 months ago I couldn’t have even told you where my vote would fall. I didn’t want to simply vote against someone. I wanted to want to vote for someone. You would not find me with a sign in my yard or a t-shirt gracing my back. There were no bumper stickers. No rallies. No determined stance. There was only, “What is happening to my country? How are these my choices? God, what is going on here?” But last week I stood in line anyway. When I got to the front, they took my information. I signed my name, and they walked me to a voting booth. They gave me instructions that I’ve heard before, but I listened intently to every word because I didn’t want to mess it up. This one voice is too important to take flippantly.
There I stood with my electronic ballot staring me in the face. The names right in front of me:
And I paused. This was the 4th time I had voted in a Presidential election in my lifetime, and every single time the magnitude has draped around my shoulders like a heavy cloak. It makes me emotional. Every push of the button is my own personal hand in history. It’s monumental. It’s a privilege. It matters.
I hear you.
You are saying:
“It doesn’t matter.”
“One vote doesn’t change anything unless you live in a swing state.”
“The electoral votes are all that count, and Texas is already swayed in the direction it will go, the direction it always goes.”
Here’s why I take the time to make a decision. Here is why my vote matters. Here is why your vote matters. Here’s why, if for no other reason, you should #VOTE:
All over this country, in every town in America, there are mothers raising babies. They are exactly like us. They are us. They give birth to these children and hold them. They nurse and nurture and raise them. They do all the late nights, the lunch boxes, the football games and the dance recitals. They are blue collar mamas, and their kids are blue collar kids, few among the thousands doing the American way of life. But to these mamas, each of these children is the whole, wide world. One day these kids are raised. Their babies no longer fill their laps but have expanded their hearts to the heavens. And they come to these mamas, to us, and they say, “I am going to fight for our country. I am enlisting in the Army/Navy/Marines/Air Force.” The hearts of these mamas swell with pride, no doubt, at the exact same moment that they are gripped with fear. “Not my son. Not my daughter. Not my baby.” But they go. And they fight. For you and for me. They go to protect US. And for 200+ years, the children of these mamas have died. They have lost everything so that we can go about our American way of life. And for those mamas the American way of life will NEVER EVER look the same because the baby she birthed gave up EVERYTHING so that we can have freedom. She gave up her everything so that we could have a voice.
And voting is our voice. It is our freedom. It is our right earned for us before we took our first breaths. It is defended while we sleep soundly. It has been and continues to be fought for us through literal blood, sweat and tremendous tears while we raise our babies. Our rights are only ours because of mothers, just like you and me, who have lost everything. We owe it to all the mothers of all the sons and daughters they have buried, to use the voice they won for us.
That’s what I thought about last week as I stood at that voting booth. I laid my hands on the box and I inhaled. I took in the moment before I made my choice. I let my mind wrap around the reality, the magnitude of my privileged life. And within minutes I pressed the red, flashing button that said “VOTE”. My hand in history complete. My one, single voice joining the choir of other voices so that it gets louder and louder. It matters.
I wore my sticker proudly that day.
I wore it all day. I let every person that passed me see it. I let my kids talk about it when they got in the car after school. Because my children need to know that it is also a freedom that has been won for them. One day I hope they honor all the mothers they stand alongside, who have lost their babies, and use their voice, in honor of the fallen and the women who raised them.
You may be wondering who I voted for. You may not. I’m not going to pretend that it was an easy decision because it wasn’t, but I chose the one who my conscious could live with. The one who holds no grasp of political correctness, but who undoubtedly speaks their mind with no control by the political elite. I voted for the only one I believe holds the security of my country and my children and our future in any kind of regard. And I voted for the only one who has any concern for the voice of the Christ follower, the only one who is not trying to silence that group of people, the only one not trying to silence my family. Other candidates might seem monumental because of their gender, but not if I hold no respect for their integrity, or lack thereof. Not if every sentence said makes me question truth.
The bottom line is that WHO I voted for doesn’t really matter as much as the action of standing up for my rights. Actions speak louder than words. And it wouldn’t matter to me if this race came down to Santa and The Easter Bunny. I would, even then, stand in that line, if for no other reason than to honor the mothers who have lost their babies so that I could use my voice. It’s the only one I have, and I refuse to waste it.