I used to wonder why sometimes I was so sad or so happy even when I didn’t particularly have things to be happy or sad about. Eventually though the self-awareness process I’ve discovered that one of my personal strengths is empathy, which basically means I go through my days soaking up the emotions of all the people around me. Fantastic skill for when I need to meet somewhere exactly where they are, or for when I’m developing relationships. I think it makes me able to be open-minded, welcoming and inclusive.
On the other hand, days like today (and even last night) are just so draining on me. There are people around me who are so ecstatic about the election they are exuding happiness everywhere they go. Then there are people who sincerely believe that we, as a country, are on the verge of something even more terrible than we are currently experiencing. Every bit of it, from every person I love, is so completely heartfelt, and I’m never one to argue with feelings, so instead I take it all in, try to process it, and hopefully don’t completely overwhelm myself before the end of the day.
Perhaps it’s the empathy that makes it hard sometimes for me to really know how I feel about things. In any case, the last 24 hours, as the news and realization of the impending presidency of Barack Obama has been sinking in, my internal emotion barometer has been all over the place, following the whim of the emotions around me.
I don’t think I can count the number of times I’ve had goosebumps when thinking about the fact that my country has done something I did not think probable in my lifetime: we have chosen a minority, a black man as our President. This is HUGE. So huge it’s almost difficult for me to really comprehend. So beautiful I almost feel the need to look away so that I can look back and see that it’s still for real. I get overwhelmed…. when I re-read the speech he made last night… when I see the pure joy on the faces of my african-american brothers and sisters who are feeling like they can do anything now… when I hear reports of the many countries abroad that rejoice with us in the breaking of this barrier in our country. It’s powerful to me in a way that I did not expect and continues to surprise me.
And then there’s McCain, and the people who supported McCain with strong convictions that he was the man who could protect their country, and their paychecks, and their unborn babies, and their guns, and their religions, and their freedoms. These are important things. So very important. And John McCain was the more experienced candidates, no doubt about it.
And I couldn’t help thinking as he gave his amazing concession speech last night… if he had spoken with that passion, that humbleness, that approachability, during his entire campaign… might he have been able to capture the passion of more people in the way that Obama has done?
I did vote for Barack Obama yesterday. Partially because Texas is such a red state… my vote felt more important if it went to a democrat. Not because I think he is necessarily going to be able to fix all the problems that our country has. And honestly, I’m scared of some of the individual people that might be a part of the 46% who voted for McCain, because many of those votes were likely not exactly FOR McCain, but rather AGAINST Obama. The hatred is so strong and I feel that, too. (See this empathy is really a bitch!).
I’m carrying around thoughts and feelings about Prop 8 in California as well… and the fact that Californians voted to give additional rights to chickens, but take away rights from a select group of people. It’s unbelievable that the vote went the way it did, since it contradicts with my experience of California, but it’s a really big state, I guess. I get the “marriage is a sacred practice” thing, and would NOT be supportive of a law that required all churches to perform gay marriages, but that is certainly not what this proposition was suggesting.
And seriously, do NOT get me started on the ballot measure in Arkansas which forbids an unmarried person (gay or straight) from adopting a child. Good gracious. Are we really that scared of what “the gays” might do to “us”? Here’s a clue.. they’ve been here all along. And what makes someone like myself unfit to parent a child who needs a home? Single parenthood isn’t a new concept either.
At the end of all of this, I still feel exhausted and somewhat discouraged, but I think that hope abounds! As the clouds of divisiveness begin to part and we all learn to look at each other with grace and understanding once again, we may find ourselves and our relationships stronger for having gone through these difficult times. I’m so thankful for God’s love and wisdom, and His pursuit of my faithfulness.
It’s past my bedtime.