In my last blog post, I referred to myself as a stubborn pea-brained chickadee. You want more evidence to the fact? I’m about to talk politics and religion and then ask you for money. I don’t care what party you are, I’m sure you can all agree that there is not much dumber than that.
Aaaand typing the above has not stopped me from continuing to type so I guess I’m doing this.
From the earliest memory I have on the subject (an incident when I was 7 which I’ll get to momentarily), I have always been intensely, and at times obsessively, interested in politics.
I think my interest stemmed from many different factors, but the most influential aspect of my life that served as gasoline for this fiery obsession was probably my sex combined with the patriarchal community of homeschoolers in my area.
When I was 7, my friends and I were playing in the woods behind their house. We were playing pretend, building forts, I was making muddy sludge to dump on their neighbor’s playset (I was a delightful child), when one of them asked what we all wanted to be when we grew up. “A cowboy!” “Fairy princess!” “A nurse!” “A guy who lives in the woods and eats beetles off of trees!” I waited until everyone else had finished, smirking condescendingly. They had such ridiculous aspirations.
One of the boys turned to me. “What about you, Kaycee?”
“Oh, me?” I feigned surprised at being asked. “I’m going to be president.”
He doubled over laughing.
I glared at him. “What’s so funny?”
“You can’t be president! You’re a girl!”
I was too surprised to be angry or hurt. I ran away without replying. Over the years, especially after puberty, it became a norm. “Girls shouldn’t wear pants, put on a skirt.” Silently seethe. “Girls shouldn’t go to college, they should get married.” Cry inside. “Girls are disgusting, they have periods.” I hate myself. “Girls can’t pray in public, only boys can.” I hate God. “Women were invented for men.” Go kill yourself. “Once you get married, you must have sex whenever your husband wants. It’s what you’re there for.” I’ll kill myself first.
My parents tried to combat these toxic ideologies. They told me I was smart, talented, and independent, but they couldn’t possibly have known everything I heard and felt. I didn’t tell them. I didn’t open up much to anyone. I avoided everyone outside of my family and a few choice friends. I spent most of my days in my room. I finished my schoolwork in the morning and then spent the afternoons reading book after book. I spent most of my evenings babysitting. It gave me a reasonable excuse to avoid any social event I might have been invited to.*
Fortunately, God saved me from some of those darker thoughts by literally saving me. The anger and isolation I experienced drove me to believe that God did not exist. I became obsessed with logic and science during that time, and this obsession eventually caused me try reading the Bible for myself, something I hadn’t done before. I read John and by the end, I believed that Jesus did exist, that he loved me, died for me, and offered grace to me but it was my choice to accept it or not. Choice, acceptance, and love was all I wanted, and it was all there multiplied infinitely in Jesus. I still had (and have) a lot of questions unanswered from the twisted and cultish theology presented in my childhood, but I believed in him and so I was saved. It’s scary to consider what I might have done had I not found him. I don’t like to think about that too much.
“Can we get back to politics??!?” “pLEase!” “Yo.” (props to anyone who gets the reference)
I always felt like the homeschool community was wrong about women, but now I had absolute proof. With my newfound faith, I delved into researching every stance on women the homeschool community deemed evil. Soo… feminism. I researched feminism.
Feminism is the concept that men and women are inherently equals and therefore deserve to be treated as such. On a more practical/active level, it’s about undoing patriarchal structures. This includes everything from rape culture to gender roles to male suicide and much more. I don’t want to spend time defining everything feminism is about, but I’m more than willing to have a (rational and adult) discussion with you about it.
After prayer and studying the Bible, I became a feminist. All the people around me were Republican so I started paying attention to Republican ideologies towards women. They sucked. They didn’t care about women’s reproductive health, they taxed tampons and pads as luxury items while condoms are not taxed thusly (you can refrain from sex but you can’t from periods sooo??), they continued to push abstinence-only education with poor information on female biology, and, worst of all, many used blasphemous interpretations of the Bible based on antiquated cultural norms rather than the text in order to justify their personal misogynistic beliefs. And that’s just the US. Don’t get me started on the horrific things that happens to women in many other countries. I was both outraged and confused (not a great combination). My entire life, I had heard the Republican stance on economics and capitalism and I would have said, at the time, that I agreed with them, but I struggled to reconcile my economic agreement with the moral disagreement I held towards their perspective on women.
Then I turned 18 and a form arrived in the mail with 3 obnoxious little check boxes that forced me to confront this mental incongruity. Democrat. Republican. Unaffiliated. After monologing extensively to my poor mom (“George Washington SAID not to make parties but stupid Jefferson and Hamilton just HAD to make parties and isn’t this how oligarchies arise? through the limitations of options? UGH everything SUCKS America is the worst I can’t believe I’m subjected to this”) I actually considered the options. After some deliberation, I hesitantly checked “Unaffiliated”. I generally agreed with Republicans, but feminism was too important to me and my life to justify my aligning with them.
College arrived and I loved it. It was kinda nice to finally be in a situation where the word “patriarchy” was not generally accepted as God’s greatest gift to womankind.
I had spent so much time in isolation, I never felt the need to purposefully be around people. Nevertheless, I signed up for my church’s college ministry in order to check the “went to a Bible study” box off my mental to-do list, but God had no intention of letting my mind chill for a minute. Summit’s community was so far beyond a “Bible study”. It was real, true, active Christianity, the sort I thought only existed in Acts and never again. People hung out, people talked about difficult things, people listened, people worshiped, people didn’t just believe in Jesus they loved him, people cared about and loved those who weren’t Christians, people volunteered, people shared the Gospel. My mind was blown, and I was a little scared. I thought I had known all there was to know about being a Christian, yet here I was, faced with a faith that was actually doing things and not just thinking things.
God lead me to do City Project, a summer long discipleship program. In my last post, I listed some of the things Jesus changed in me through that summer, but one thing I did not mention was my political beliefs.
The very first week of City Project takes place in New York City. All of the students get separated into groups with students you don’t know from different colleges, you’re assigned to a staff member, and then you go out and share the Gospel with people. If Summit were a video game, it would be like playing Christianity on hard mode, because on the FIRST FREAKING DAY, someone decided, on a subway in NYC, it was a swell idea to discuss who we each planned on voting for. This is the middle of 2016, okay, and 2016 was just the worst.
Someone asked for my thoughts. I shrugged. “I don’t really know.”
That is not an acceptable Summit answer. Everyone stared at me, waiting for me to elaborate.
I tried to go on. “It’s just… I tend to be Republican economically but I hate Donald Trump because of how he treats women. Like, really really hate him. So I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Everyone listened. Then someone said (I’m paraphrasing a longer discussion), “You know, Republican economics and policies are systemically harmful towards racial minorities.” This was said in a kind, matter-of-fact way, not patronizing or condescending at all. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but throughout the summer, he and others explained his point: the hidden meaning behind “tough on crime” rhetoric, the cycle of poverty due to lack of assistance for single mothers combined with poor education in schools near areas of lower socio-economic status combined with the criminalization of certain kinds of drugs over other kinds, the moral incompatibility of the “American dream” with the current difficult immigration procedures and “illegal alien” rhetoric, the historic and current treatment of Native Americans, the false narrative presented by the media of crime statistics regarding different races, and so much more.
Please don’t take my rapid-fire list of political atrocities as evidence that I know anything. I don’t and could never understand the true extent of the injustices. But I learned more and it overwhelmed me with conflicting emotions- disgust with myself for being exactly like the male politicians I had spent so much time judging, gratefulness to the many amazing people of color who out of sheer grace took the time to explain when I did not deserve their kindess, confusion at realizing a system that I had always considered praiseworthy was actually corrupted by fickle and bigoted emotion, and, most intensely, I felt anger.
Sophomore year went by. Most of my Junior year has gone by.
And I have spent so much of it being so angry. You can only direct your anger outward at the system and inward at yourself for so long before you direct it upwards to the heavens.
Before I was saved, I blamed God for the injustices I felt directed at me. I began blaming him for the injustices against other people. I had so many questions and I angrily started yelling them at Him.
God’s cool, because he yells back.
Job 38: 4-5, Job 38: 16-19, Job 40-42
Job was a righteous man who loved God and then he lost everything. He lost his children, he lost his friends, he lost his riches, he lost his health, and he had no idea why. Some of his friends came to him and insisted that he must have done something wrong, that he must have angered God and that he needed to repent, but Job knew this wasn’t true and demanded an answer from God. 38 chapters in, God answered, but He didn’t really answer. Instead, He questioned Job. Can Job make a universe? Does Job understand the thoughts of animals, the processes of plants, the cycle of space? Can a faultfinder, a nit-picking human, contend with God?
In Job 40: 8, God says, “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (ESV)
I wasn’t really angry, at least not completely, on behalf of those suffering injustice. I was angry because I wanted to be righteous in my own sight. That’s disgusting. I was using the suffering of others in order to bolster my own sense of morality, desiring to stand equal with God.
The book of Job ends with Job regaining all he had lost and more. Yet, he still lived with pain. He had lost children and he was never given an answer as to why. Those reading the Bible know why, of course. Through Job’s life, we know righteousness does not mean a suffering-free life. We know that when suffering comes it is not a punishment. We know that even when God seems silent, He’s still there and that is plan is still permanent.
Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 8, Proverbs 14:6
Job says there is no possible way humans could ever fully understand God and His ways. But then, what can people understand? Politics demands an answer, so if I am incapable of fully understand everything, then what can I trust myself to know and how do I act according to that knowledge?
I’m glad Proverbs exists. Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” This verse seemed so weird to me. From my earthly perspective, it seems like if you want wisdom you go get wisdom. You do research, you talk to people, you read history, you do things and that makes you wiser. But instead, this verse says that fearing God, which essentially means being in awe of Him, is the beginning of wisdom. I admit, I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how resting, doing nothing, in an emotion causes me to find wisdom, but I do know that it is true. Stopping and just talking to God and remembering His amazing works throughout all of time and throughout my personal life has always, always, helped me know what the right course of action is, especially politically.
Finally, God gives a very clear depiction of the behaviors Christians will have towards others. In his letter to the Romans, Paul repeats the Gospel over and over and over again (Romans 1: 1-6, 3: 20-25, 4: 24-25, 5:7, all of 8, I could go on) and then in chapter 12 he clearly and succinctly lists behaviors that those who believe and understand the Gospel will have towards others. These “others” are not necessarily just other Christians, other nice people, other people who share your political beliefs. The others are everyone. Romans 12 says to live in harmony with each other, to live peaceably with others as far as you are able, to not be wise in your own sight, to never avenge yourself, to be kind to your enemies, and to respond to evil with good.
I know myself and I know that I could never do these things apart from Jesus, but I also know that being angry has hurt me far, far more than it has furthered any of the causes I believe in. I have lashed out at my parents. I quickly launch into debates and I make the other person feel stupid. I have cut people out of my life. And at the end of it all, nobody changed their minds and I feel nothing but regret and guilt and still that ever-present anger.
I’m not saying I’m necessarily wrong to be angry about injustice. There’s nothing wrong with righteous anger. I’m just saying that I am so ready to trust Jesus with the words to say rather than my own impulses. I have turned a lot of my relationships into a battleground of ideals and I would much rather change people’s minds than destroy their spirits. I don’t know exactly what this looks like. What if I come face-to-face with a neo-Nazi? A white supremacist? An extreme homophobe? Someone from my childhood who believes women are nothing? Honestly, I don’t know. I know I will never waver in the knowledge that all people are equally sinful before God, all people are wanted and desired by God, all people have been offered grace by Jesus, and that all people are intensely and perfectly loved by him, but I don’t know what that conversation will look like. All I can do is understand that I don’t know the answer to everything. I can rest in awe of God. And I can seek grace for my behaviors, especially towards people I would consider enemies.
Because hey, God looked at me once and saw an enemy and yet He still loved me and He still chose to reach out to me, even though I stood opposed to everything He stood for. It’s a much lesser thing for this fallible human to do that for another fallible human.
If you made it through to the end of this post, I applaud ye.
Now here’s the part where I ask for money! Yay!
I mentioned City Project in both this post and in my last post. City Project is a program that completely changed my life, and now, I have the opportunity to serve as an intern. I need to raise $1,500 dollars in order to participate. I would really appreciate your support, but if you can’t, honestly, I’m just impressed you read this whole post. I didn’t read this whole post and I wrote the stupid thing.
Buuut if you’d like to support me, here’s the link! summitrdu.com/supportcityproject
Thanks for reading!
*Note about homeschooling. I didn’t put this in the post because it is not relevant to the topic at hand, but I think it’s important for me to say something about it since it effected me so much. There are two vital aspects to homeschooling- home life and community life. The home life portion of homeschooling is your personal education as arranged, presented, and taught by your parents. My mom did a phenomenal job. She researched and found the perfect curricula for me, she encouraged me to pursue the subjects I enjoyed, she made learning fun and accessible, she put me in challenging classes, she managed to be both mom and teacher and to this day I have no idea how she balanced that. She basically did everything perfectly. Unfortunately, community life was something outside of her control. When you are homeschooled, the homeschool community is inescapable. While people in school might have school friends, church friends, activity friends, etc., homeschoolers see the same people at all of those places. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if you have a good community in your area, but if you don’t, then it can feel suffocating. I don’t want to generalize homeschooling as either “good” or “bad”, but I definitely would not encourage anyone to be homeschooled unless both the home life and community life are edifying. Fortunately, the homeschool community has grown and become more wholesome, so my siblings are having a very different experience than I did.
Also, if you are reading this and you were a part of that homeschool community, odds are, I’m not talking about you and I probably like you pretty well, so hi! I seriously doubt the people I had issues with care enough to read anything written by me. Basically, if you know you didn’t say the things I listed, then you’re good, so please don’t feel like I blame you or anything.