Grace at the Polling Place

She was heading up the steps slowly but surely. Although we were going to the same place,voter we came from different places. I suspect that she had been voting before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 assured that she could vote and that her vote would count. I’ve never had to worry about that. I rushed to get the door for her so she wouldn’t have to worry about holding a heavy door open. As I was holding the door, a young adult came bounding up the steps. I kept the door open for him and as he passed he smiled and said, “It’s my first time.”

We were early voting. By many accounts more and more people are taking advantage of early voting. Perhaps we don’t want to wait in long lines on Election Day. I suspect many just want to get it over with. Cast our vote and then wash the dirt and grime of this campaign season off of our collective selves.

As we lined up, they handed us the early voting form to fill out. My friend who had come in with me was looking over her form with a confused look on her face. The gentleman in front of her turned and offered to help. I overheard him talking with her about his path to vote, sharing that this was his second presidential election since becoming a citizen in 2010. A police officer who was watching over the proceedings (no Russians or alt-right poll watchers thank God) helped another man towards the back of the line with his form; apparently he had forgotten his glasses.

As we all made our way into the large gym with the voting booths and registration records, the poll workers could not have been friendlier. They checked people in with ease and a respect not often seen during this campaign season. Two shouts of “we have a first time voter” rang out. Everyone stopped what they were doing and cheered.  I headed to my voting booth while absorbing the scene around me. There were probably fifteen folks in the booths. Different in age, gender, ethnicity, and likely in a thousand other ways that one can’t tell on the surface. Each of us probably had experienced life in American in a different way. I am certain there were different choices for President, although I am certain everyone voted no on Amendment 1.

In the midst of such an ugly and disheartening election season, the act of voting was anything but ugly and disheartening.  It was a holy moment, a glimpse of grace. It was a reminder not only of what makes this country great now, but a glimpse of how we can become even greater for all people. Who would have thought that grace would show up at the polling place?

As I walked out, proudly wearing my “I’m a Georgia voter” sticker, my first time voter friend held the door open for me. People were getting back in their cars while others were just getting out. I thought to myself, ‘America, we might just make it yet. It’s going to be all good.”

That’s Not How Boys Talk- A Letter to My Daughters

Dear B and A,b-and-a

Your mom and I have always done our best to teach you to see the best in others and the best in yourself. The world will send you mixed messages about who you are and whose you are at almost every turn. While equality seems a given to some, you still would make less money for doing the same job as a male.This is not fair. There is more work to do and our hope is that you will be a part of this. I know there are struggles you will face in our society that I have not had to face. You take a backseat to no one because of your gender. It is an honor to raise two daughters.

Both of you have seen some things about our Presidential election on television. You have asked some really good questions including my favorite, “wait, a girl can be President?” B asked yesterday why people on television were talking about one of the candidates. Truthfully, where do I begin?

Words matter.The intentions behind words matter.  Your Dad makes a living for our family using words. Your Dad feels called to use words on behalf of God to communicate God’s deep love for all people. Words matter and the thoughts those words convey matter.

The words used by one of our candidates are unacceptable. Those words would not be acceptable from one of your classmates or by any other male. That is not how boys talk. If a boy ever talks to you or about you in such an unacceptable way, your mom and I will be having a conversation with their parents. We would not expect you to talk that way about boys or girls. Don’t ever let someone talk at you or to you in this way and think “that’s just how boys talk.” It’s not.

Our society should not let this pass. People in the church who you look up to should not let this pass. I will not let this pass. I would not be doing the sacred job entrusted to me as your Dad if I just passed this off as “how boys talk.” You are not an object who has been put on this earth for others’ pleasure. You are not inferior to anyone because you are a girl. No one should feel like they have the right to take advantage or objectify you because you are a girl. You are wonderfully made, both beautiful children of God. I promise that your Mom and I will do our part to help you know that.