Vote your Convictions. Love Others. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Tuesday is the big day. Record numbers of people will be hitting the poles. Some may stand in line for hours waiting for their turn to make their voice heard. Some may stand in the rain, confident that their vote is making a difference. Others have filled out their mail in or absentee ballots already, assured that they too will be counted. That their ballot will make a difference. And then we will all wait. We will watch the television, at times getting frustrated with the process. We will keep updating our computers to see the latest counts. We will scroll through our phones watching for minute by minute changes. And then, at some point, some are speculating days after the election, we will hear the announcement of who will be the President of the United States for the next four years.


Throughout that process, we have a challenge. And it may be one of the biggest challenges we have had as voters and as Christians during an election season. The words of the challenge seem rather simple to say. And yet, the way I am viewing the landscape of America right now, the words are obviously far from simple to act on.


"Love others" is the challenge. "Love others" are the two "simple" words. They don't seem to be lining up with the way Americans are choosing to treat one another during these difficult times. My heart is broken by the fact that instead of bravely, intently, and compassionately listening to other's views, we are making ignorant and hurtful statements about how it is impossible to vote for one candidate or another if we are "Christian". We are putting our experiences, our convictions, onto someone else and telling them that if they don't see it our way then they are "stupid", "unAmerican", "not a Christian", among other terms.


Why aren't we taking the time to consider that someone may view "pro-life" from a different angle than us? Why aren't we compassionate toward someone who has a heart for immigrants or refugees? Why are we making political judgements about people based on whether they are wearing a mask or not? Why are we not listening to the pain of someone who has gone through an abortion? Why are we not hearting the cry of the person being deported? Why are we not paying attention to those who feel marginalized in America? Why are we not seeing the single parent who can't pay the bills? Why are we not visiting the small business owner who just lost their business? Why are we not listening to the pressure of the large business owner who feels responsible for thousands of employees and their families? Why....? Because I think if we take the time to see, to hear, to feel for the people around us, then we will find out that our single blatant statements, the ones we believe are the only "right" way, the only "truth", are simply our truth. They are our view. They are what we see as the best for our situation because of the story we have lived.


And here's the thing, I'm not saying that is wrong. I'm not saying that we aren't supposed to take our experiences and our lives into the voting booth. In fact, that is exactly what we are supposed to do. We are to go and vote our convictions based upon what we know and feel is the best for our family, our community, our state, our country, and our world. But what we aren't supposed to do, is make others feel less than because they are doing the same. Isn't the great thing about the United States of America, the fact that we CAN go and do that? That we HAVE a vote because of the brave people who have fought and continue to fight for us to have this privilege? Isn't that something to be celebrated? I think it is!


The challenge then lies in the "love others". We are called, as Christians, to do this. When the world sees us spewing hateful things at one another, arguing and name calling on social media, making others feel as if their view isn't important, the world is not seeing us following the GREATEST commandment we have...LOVE ONE ANOTHER.


How do we do that right now? Let's start with listening to each other. Let's start with ending the "my way is the Christian way" or "you can't be a Christian and vote______". Let's start with being alright with the fact that someone's life experience has lead them to be passionate about something different than yours, in turn having them decide to put an X in a different box than yours. Let's start with complimenting people for actually stepping up and voting, regardless of whether they vote Republican, Democrat, or for a third party candidate. Basically, let's start with being nice to one another. Because it is time for change. It's time for you to change. A time for me to change. A time for us to stop pointing fingers outward, and start pointing them upward. For when we raise our hands and point our fingers upward, far above our heads, our eyes will follow, and we will see the One person who will be showing us how to love one another in the best ways possible.


Misty Cramer is a Christian wife, mom, writer, and speaker, among a bunch of fun things. She'd find it an honor to have you follow her on social media and via her website.


Facebook: Misty Cramer, Author & Speaker. Instagram: mistydawncramer

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