From my heart

I remember being a little kid and having a cassette tape my Pawpaw made me with Lee Greenwood’s Proud to Be an American on repeat on both sides. (Maybe this is where my love of having a song on repeat comes from.) I loved the song SO much, and up until a few years ago, I would be moved to tearsany time I heard it.


I’m starting with this so that you can know that I’ve loved America my whole life. It just seems now that I’m crying for different reasons than I was before.


This is a letter to you from my heart of hearts. I write it as humbly as I can, but I do have to write it. 


(Much like in my last blog post, I’m writing this as softly as I can. When I talk about this stuff in real life, I tend to get very loud very quickly, and that’s not at all my intention. I’m hoping, in fact, that by writing it out, I can remain calm and have good delivery.)


Now, let me be honest. I know more about Real Housewives and what’s leaving/coming to Netflix than I do about politics, but I feel convicted to share with you what has been on my heart for days. 


Let’s start way back at the beginning. I am a straight, white female - born and raised in Mississippi. I was raised in the Baptist church and identify as Christian still, always. My first memory of voting was walking with my Granny to Baker Elementary School. I would go into the voting booth with her, and she would close the curtain behind us. I would get to watch her cast her vote. (Voting machines were way cooler back then!)


Fast forward to 2004. I’m 18, in my first semester of college. I’m getting to vote in the Presidential Election. I’m certain that good, Christian people all vote Republican. So, this is what I do. Then and for years. [Noone ever said that to me outright - it was just what I observed and assumed. (I thought we were all doing it!)]


Before you stop reading, I’m not telling you that voting Republican is bad. Just keep reading, please.


Back then, I thought politics was like cheering for your favorite college football team to win a bowl game. Ignorance was bliss - not even that I voted a certain way but that I was able to assume this. That voting didn’t really affect me - just as long as our “team” won.  #privilege I know much better now. This is more than having your team win. 


If you are a straight, white person, your America is different than the America so many other people in our nation experience.


If you are a straight, white, Protestant, even more so.


I can say that, because I fall into that category. I’m right there with you, BUT this isn’t just OUR home. America is and always has been a melting pot - for every race, culture, religion, and sexual orientation. (I already feel like this is going to be lengthy, so I’m not even sure that I should venture into how we came here and murdered the Native Americans for this land we call our home…)


I think it’s so easy to only see ourselves and focus on our interests. I would even go as far as to say that it’s natural! I’ll admit it - I’m selfish! I want good things for me and my family. However, I can’t want good things for me and not want them for other people, too. Perhaps this is something we (Christian people) need to recognize and repent of. God, forgive us for only caring about ourselves. Forgive us for looking to our country to be our safety or comfort or provision when we should be looking to You alone for those things. And God, forgive us for making politics in this nation an idol that we prioritize and trust more than You.


I’m certainly not asking you to abandon your love of our country. I’m begging you to think about it from anyone else’s perspective - even for a minute.


For instance, I see a lot of people, especially here in the Deep South, harp on abortion and being pro-life. I GET IT, y’all. I don’t like abortion. I don’t want it to be a thing. I wish it didn’t even exist. However, I don’t think anyone is doing it as a hobby. And if they are, isn’t that between them and the Lord? Also, you can’t damn people for abortion and also damn them if they have the baby, can’t afford it, and need governmental assistance. You can’t have it both ways.


Secondly, not everyone in America is a Christian. Not everyone shares the same beliefs. I believe if the fall never happened in Eden, we wouldn’t be in this place having to discuss this stuff. But it did happen and here we are.


If you claim to be pro-life, that means LIFE. Not just pro-infant. Not just pro-birth. It has to mean pro-LIFE. So the lives of the people in ICE camps, the lives of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (despite whatever you believe about their guilt or innocence), and the lives of people who aren’t in the same political party or religion as us ALL have to matter equally.


If the pro-life/pro-choice debate isn’t what you get caught up in, what is it? The protests and riots? I understand that it seems foreign to many of us, but we haven’t lived in a country that has always oppressed us. Always, no matter how hard we studied or worked. Always, no matter where we came from or what talents and gifts we have. We can never understand, but we can sympathize by imagining it or by looking out for people other than just ourselves.


I used to want anyone in the White House who would do away with Student Loan Debt so that Jordan and I would be free from that. Today, though, we talked about it, and it’s so beyond that. We will keep the loans. We will pay them monthly until we make the last payment (when I’m 53). I don’t even care anymore. I do care about people not having insurance or health care. I do care about people not being able to provide for their families.


Is that what this is about? Taxes? Oh, I didn’t realize I personally knew any billionaires. 


Let me make this perfectly clear - the only One I will ever pledge allegiance to is Christ. Even on the hardest days of my life, He is my firm foundation. I believe I’ll see the Promised Land. He is where my Hope lies.


And Church, if we are losing people because of the division among us, how on earth are we drawing new people in? I own several Bible translations, and I haven’t found in any of them a commandment that I am only to love people who look and believe just like me. 


We are studying Ephesians in Bible study currently. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” So, Church, the ball is in our court to repent and be obedient in loving one another - no matter how any of us vote.


If you think I’m making a mistake or am wrong altogether, I can live with that. Today, I can even handle your disappointment in me because this is so much bigger than that. There is grace for all my mistakes, but I don’t feel like this is one. If it is, it’s honestly between me and the Lord anyway.


Also, I’m 34 and just now coming around to all of this. I can’t expect anyone to read this and have their entire worldview changed. I just have to share what’s been on my heart the past few days.


To my Brown, Black, non-white brothers and sisters, I see you. I love you. 

To my LGBTQIA brothers and sisters, I see you. I love you.

To my Jewish/Muslim/Sikh/Athiest/Agnostic/other brothers and sisters, I see you. I love you.

I won’t stay quiet, I promise.


I’ll love you no matter how you vote. That’s what I’m called to do, and that’s what I want to do. I just needed to share my heart on this. 


Love,

Jessica Thornton



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