I live in Austin, so some of y’all have already labeled me as a raving lunatic. Others are under the impression that I’m pretty hip and cool. With this blog, I’m here to prove that I’m actually neither.

My goals for this entire ordeal are as follows:

  • To approach a variety of topics with an open heart and open mind
  • To honestly and fully express my opinions
  • To learn and value all constructive feedback
  • To point myself and whoever takes time to read posts to thoughtfulness, respect, and truth

For me, a small(er) town girl raised in a Christian household with fairly conservative views, it might seem crazy that I made a big switch to the capital of weirdness. Granted, I’m still in Texas, but if I had stayed in my hometown, my views would have vastly gone unchallenged. Sometimes when I’m sitting in my room alone or struggling to figure out bus routes or where I’m living next year, I envy my friends who stayed. College is hard no matter where you are, and there’s always an adjustment, but from my perspective, it seems easier and so much more comfortable back there. Things cost just a little less, there’s a little less traffic, and people disagree just a little less.

But when I walk down busy sidewalks on campus or in the city, amongst a diverse crowd of beautiful human beings, I know I made the right choice to come here. Because for me, I knew I couldn’t grow much more where I was from. I needed space to breathe, and sometimes there’s so much space here it’s overwhelming, but I feel my inner being stretching out to fill all that space. That’s a really good thing.

However, leaving town didn’t mean leaving my values. Leaving town gave me the opportunity to make what I believed truly mine. I can do whatever I want now. I know people who have already decided to change from their last-year selves and that’s their prerogative. We’re all really just the same people we were in May to be honest, but I think everyone’s taken at least a few tiny steps to different, possibly (hopefully) better versions of themselves.

Recently, I’ve gotten into conversations concerning what is the acceptable line between “secular” and “Christian.” I’ve had this conversation with various friends, some who share my beliefs and some who don’t. The bottom line I’ve drawn is that Christians are too quick judge all things “secular” and that non-believers often hear “Christian” and immediately connect it with “Westboro.”

(Hey, real quick, genuine Christ-followers do not and should not AT all resemble the people of Westboro, and BLESS THAT, because they are the worst.)

There are issues with both perspectives.

To all Christians (and this is a humbling reminder to myself, too): HELLO, WE ARE IMPERFECT AND LIVE ON EARTH. Yes, down here, hello? On earth. We live for eternity, as in our heavenly existence, but too often we take on a fatal superiority complex. The “transforming of our minds” as it goes in Romans 12:2 is a real and extremely important value that frankly needs to start being valued again and its accompanying opener “do not conform to the pattern of this world” also applies to hot topics like gay marriage and abortion.

When we as Christians inevitably bring our biblically-based beliefs into the ballot (which we are allowed to do because they constitute an ideology, and ideologies make it into votes, believe it or not), we also have an obligation to back up our beliefs with sensible solutions. What we believe is what we support. Freedom takes place via voting.

Most of my Facebook friends/friends in general are conservative, Christian, or both, so I’m hitting a softball here. They’re nodding their heads excitedly and rubbing their cross necklaces. But I’m playing to YOU, the ones who feel the need to shut down, burn out, or slam anyone who disagrees with you. I’m a lot of things, but I’m not ignorant. When I vote, I think. Not everyone does that, as we all know.

As I just said, when you vote, you have an obligation to present practical solutions. Stuff happens at home. I’m talking grassroots. What can you do to practically support the legislative actions your chosen candidate supports?

For example, I’m against abortion. (Please don’t stop reading here, listen!) But more importantly, I’m against women feeling trapped in pregnancies. I want to provide opportunities for women to thrive and start over, with the label of “mom” or not, while allowing the child to get a fair chance at their start. I don’t believe in writing off people because of odds or circumstances. I want to track down dead-beat dads who leave, because why should they get out of pregnancies if the mom doesn’t get to? I’m going to walk with women now and women of the future. I believe in all the men and women who are yet to come.

Yes, I believe in legislation of morality.

And if you think I don’t listen to the liberal majority that pushes against everything I just said, that’s all I hear today. It’s not cool to be pro-life, but I think the people who get a chance at life would think it’s cool. I want our nation to support women so that having to get an abortion doesn’t even seem necessary. I want practical safe sex education. I want change and I want reform, and I believe in striving for ideals.

I don’t conform to this world, but I live in it. I’m not better than you and I never claimed to be. I’m just like you, and like you, I probably want a lot of things to change. Allow me to talk about a guy named Paul.

Quick bio: He used to hate Christians and worked to kill them, but after experiencing God, he became one of the greatest leaders and teachers of all time, reaching out to new believers and Gentiles shunned by the Jewish religious leaders at the time. But before he became the king of the underdogs, he hated Christians. It’s important to note that many of these great transformative types end up with lopsided stories: everyone who hears it only hears everything after “but.” They forget the ugliness and brokenness before, or worse, think it’s all gone. But believers like Paul, honest, righteous, loving-love-and-truth believers, constantly allude to their brokenness; how often they mess up is always in the conversation. In a letter to his mentee Timothy, Paul writes “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15, ESV)

If, as a Christian, you have your eyes so set on “things that are above” (Colossians 3:2, ESV) that you use your salvation as a cover-all or an excuse to be ignorant, you are endangering yourself.

You’re foolish.

Because where we are now matters too. We must have a voice and we are called to shape the world around us in dramatic ways. I’m talking radical love, and out of this love comes ultimate truth.

As the famous words go, “we hold these truths to be self-evident” in the Declaration of Independence, so I propose a truth I know is self-evident, one that shapes my personality, actions, ideas, and emotions: we as people, as humans, are imperfect and broken. Am I presenting this as a fanatic way to break your self-confidence?

No.

I present a challenge, just like Jesus did, and whether you believe in his divinity or care about him at all, take the idea for what it is: whoever is out there and is perfect, you throw the first stone.

In John 8:1-11, a woman is caught in adultery, that is cheating on her husband or involvement in some deceitful sexual act. The community catches her and prepares to stone her, a brutal practice at the time in dealing with those who had screwed up up in the eyes of the religious law.

Jesus stepped in (without judgement) and CALLED THEM OUT: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Obviously they were jerks and also normal human beings who aren’t perfect, so they all backed away. Jesus speaks to this ashamed woman and does not condemn her, but says “Go and sin no more.”

As I learned recently, it is important that the woman is unnamed. We can put ourselves there (guys too!). Jesus lived his love. It wasn’t okay for others to shame her or punish her for her sexual sin or sin in general.

We’re all that woman (guys too!). We’re all screwed up. If you have it all together, hit me up for coffee. I’ll have what you’re having.

So can we all reach this truth? We’re not perfect.

We have three choices really (at simplest). I hate list-form writing, but whatever, it is what it is. We can

  1. seek some sort of saving grace and strive for joy that obviously people here can’t get themselves (see Sylvia Plath, Drake, divorce rates, etc)
  2. try our best on our own (see Sylvia Plath, Drake, divorce rates, etc) and achieve the normal sometimes low-key level of despair among most people, or
  3. judge relentlessly and then go home hoping to feel just a little better about ourselves.

(Westboro is the worst, guys. Absolute worst.)

To reiterate, heaven-bound is a lifestyle, not an eraser. We don’t get to use our destination to make up for our pitfalls or dismiss people who “aren’t good enough for us.”

We need to love and stop getting so preoccupied looking up that we forget to lok down at our own hearts and the beautiful people all around us.

That being said, I’m allowed to have opinions. I’m allowed to act on them. And to touch on a recent issue, I don’t have to leave them home on election day. I’m not sorry for that.

That being said, I’m not blindsided in my beliefs. I’ve heard it all. I see the social media activism take over every single site for a day or two, literally drowning in issues that either I support or don’t. I don’t hate Obama. I’m not regurgitating what my parents say. Many conservatives fit a stereotype, and so do liberals. Let’s play a more bipartisan game, that’s all I gotta say.

I’ve been called open-minded and I hold that description in such high esteem, guys. I have beliefs, but it is so so important for me to listen to every perspective. Collaboration is the greatest key to success that so few people have. I want beliefs I can back up to anyone, and I work so hard to read, listen to, and watch works supporting all perspectives and form an opinion that both makes sense and supports my ideas for this country’s future.

It’s cool to be you, whoever you may be. But I ask that you listen to others. Listen to me. I have reasons and convictions! It doesn’t matter who you are, I want to share something with you and I want to hear your story too. I want to look you square in the face and both listen and speak, my life pointing upwards to a glory incomparable to anything here.

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