Speak softly with your voice and loudly with your vote

Never more than the last few weeks have I pondered how to apply Redefined Love to these painfully divisive times.

How do I even deal with it within myself? Certainly I have my own opinions on the matter. Do I speak specifically, or in generalities?

I needed time to process. I needed time to take some deep breaths, to separate from my personal feelings and come to a place of relative peace. I say “relative” because everything is relative, isn’t it?

The way I feel about this isn’t peace like I get walking through a park aglow in autumn color, or wrapped in my husband’s arms, drifting off to sleep while my kids are snuggled warm in their beds.

It’s a restless peace, a peace that needs to be constantly reminded. It’s a hard won peace. It wasn’t just a lovex3 peace. I had to say, “I love you” a hundred times, maybe a thousand, maybe a hundred thousand.

I had to picture those involved as tiny babies, as innocent children, before they were jaded by the forces of culture and greed and politics.

Because here’s the thing… These are all human beings involved here. And they are all damaged.

That isn’t an excuse to mistreat people, by any means. Redefined Love requires accountability in order to work.

There are so many teachable moments happening right now in our culture I can’t even settle on just one. Instead of covering our children’s ears and sheltering them from it all we should be talking, talking, talking.

The other day my 12-year-old son sat down sadly beside me and said he’d loved Bill Cosby and thought he was a really cool guy. He had read a news report online about his recent sentencing and was devastated.

We used to watch reruns of the Cosby Show together before all the assault accusations began.

As a kid with a dysfunctional family growing up in white rural Montana, I’d daydream that Cliff and Clair Huxtable were my parents. I barely noticed their race one way or another. I just knew they were happy and funny and everybody loved everybody, and there weren’t any secrets.

I understand now the sad irony in that but at 10 years old this was food for my soul.

Mr. Cosby provided me with a completely different foundational worldview, not only about race, but about what a family should be, and what a young woman could aspire to be, through the powerful female characters he created for his show.

For this I will be forever grateful to Bill Cosby, regardless of what horrific acts he committed behind the scenes.

So my son and I grieved together the day of his sentencing. We talked about the darkness and light that resides within all of us.

We talked about temptation, and power, and how none of us are immune. We talked about accountability and the necessity for integrity even when no one is watching… Especially when no one is watching.

We talked about taking care of those we have power over. We talked about building people up rather than tearing them down.

We talked about standing up for what is right, even when it’s scary.

We talked about how our choices always catch up with us, good and bad.

Mr. Cosby believed he’d gotten away with it. Most of his crimes happened a long time ago. But there is always a reckoning. Always. Don’t ever forget that.

We talked about trust.

It’s okay to trust people. But it’s okay to be suspicious sometimes, too. You should be your own best friend. Trust yourself first. Trust your gut.

We believe in God in our house. We talked about God, and the still, small voice that some call intuition. Whatever you call it, trust it. If it doesn’t feel right, get out of there.

We talked about loving broken people.

I explained to my son that people do horrible things; things that seem unforgivable.

I explained that forgiveness isn’t about the other person. We forgive to prevent the other person from having power over our thoughts, so we can move on with our lives.

Forgiveness frees us from the shame associated with the wrong done to us, so that we will not pass that shame on to others.

Forgiveness leads to grace, which allows us to love even our staunchest enemies.

No one can live a lie forever. The truth always comes out. The Bill Cosby story is proof of that.

I explained to my son that the only way to escape a reckoning is to remain true to yourself, to consistently live with character and integrity.

We all make mistakes. But we don’t all intentionally hurt others for our own personal gain and pleasure, and we don’t all actively seek to cover up our mistakes.

It takes courage to apologize. It takes courage to admit when you are wrong.

I told my son to live his life so that if someone spoke badly of him, no one would believe it.

Then there was the Kavanaugh hearing.

I’m not jumping into the debate over whether or not Brett Kavanaugh is innocent or guilty. Redefining Love is not a political site.

What I do know is this… There is so much pain on both sides. I live in what I describe as a “purple world,” where my mostly politically red community gets stirred together with the blue friends from the varied experiences of my life. I get both sides of this painful story.

Then there are my own feelings on the subject. My husband and I don’t even agree on all of these issues, and yet somehow we manage to remain happily married!

We can’t go on like this as a nation. We’ve got to find some grace towards those we disagree with. The word “evil” is getting thrown around way too lightly, way too often.

I’m not dismissing that there is evil involved here.

There is Big Evil preying on our fears of those who are different from ourselves. Big Evil is lying to you.

Not everyone who supports Brett Kavanaugh is evil.

Not everyone who carries a protest sign against him is evil.

The vast majority of Americans, red and blue, are just trying to make sense of this crazy mess as best they can, based on their own experiences. Please give each other some grace.

Turn off the toxic voices on cable news and talk radio. Cherish quiet with your family and friends. Avoid these rotten topics. Post funny or inspiring stories on social media or just get off entirely.

Speak softly with your heart, and loudly with your vote.

Related Links:
Let’s Redefine Love… Together
How do I redefine love?
Dealing with Anger
The Shame Cycle
The Big Picture

Published October 16, 2018

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