Your Right To Choose

For the past two days I have been overflowing with words and ideas to bring to the table in this post. I have been frustrated and upset. I have been hopeful. These past few weeks have not been easy. I have felt like I’m screaming in a crowded room and no one can hear me.

I have watched people I know be hurt, harassed, and worse. I have heard horror stories from across the nation. I am watching families be torn apart, friends deciding not to speak.

I have seen more immaturity from adults in my life than I ever thought was possible. I have seen hate, both in speech and actions, become more prominent than it has ever been in my lifetime.

And I have no idea how to stop it.

You see, I’m passionate about fixing things that are broken. I’m passionate about people and about standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I want to fix injustice. I want to stop suffering. I want to be someone that people can count on. I want others to know that I will always be there for them no matter their skin color, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, background, or any other characteristic.

I will always be a voice for anyone who needs me. I strive to never say no to someone in need.

But this does not stop the hatred and blatant ignorance that I’m seeing from people around the nation.

Yes, you know where this is going. No, it will not be pretty. It never is. I will not coddle people. I will not allow something that I perceive as injustice to continue without saying a word.

I don’t understand how people can just stand to the side on issues that affect the type of world that we create. You choose to be a bystander. You choose to say that this issue isn’t important enough for me to get involved. You choose to let your pride and reputation come before the wellbeing of others.

And I do not understand those choices.

We live in a democracy of the people who participate. That means that in order to achieve what the people want, the people must take a stand with pride. You cannot hide how you feel. You cannot decide to not take a side in order to not offend someone.

I am a firm believer in learning from others. You have to understand the world from someone else’s perspective in order to grow. However, refusing to give a little in order to compromise, but expecting the other side to, is insane.

We won’t come together with that attitude, we won’t heal, we won’t move forward.

And that is exactly what this country needs at this specific point in time.

In order to fully participate and for you to understand exactly where I’m coming from, I am going to get very personal, very fast. Some of these things I have never told anyone before. Everyone knows that I am upset with the outcome of November 8th, but not everyone knows why.

I am upset because I have spent my entire life feeling as if I were nothing, feeling as if I was not good enough. It didn’t matter how hard I tried with school, friends, clothes, makeup, boys, I wasn’t enough. I spent four years with a boy who made me feel like an option, a convenience, an object. Whether he knew that or not, that’s what the relationship was. I was always giving 150%, while he was giving nothing. When I finally worked up the courage to stand up for myself and realized what I was worth, the election process started. The second I knew that we would not last was when Donald said “We’re going to build a wall” for the first time. I was horrified, the boy laughed.

I ended things and finally started becoming the woman that I wanted to be. I realized that it was okay to be opinionated, and intelligent. I didn’t have to hide aspects of myself or dumb myself down in order to be accepted by people. Then Donald began making inappropriate remarks about his daughter. He was accused of sexual assault. He has a trial for the rape of a child in December.

I began to second guess every ounce of confidence and self worth that I had just recently built up.

Then he gained support. I started questioning whether or not I was worth it. When I heard my father say that sexual assault victims only come forward for money or attention, I wondered if he would say the same thing to me if I had been assaulted.

But it wasn’t just sexual assault. I wondered if my family had actually meant it when they told me that I could be anything I set my mind to. When I wanted to be a surgeon, or a business owner, or even now, when I want to be a lawyer and eventually a public servant, do they mean it? Or do they truly believe that I am not capable of succeeding in these careers. They always told me that I should teach, even though I had no interest. Was that because education is more of a “woman’s industry”?

I have had friends who are from different ethnicities, religions, genders, sexualities. I have heard the president elect say things that are beyond offensive to these people. He wants to build a wall, he wants to stop people from immigrating. I don’t think he fully understands how this country came to be. Here’s a hint, it was because of immigrants.

He has inspired a type of hate that transcends anything I have ever seen before. Hate crimes have spiked. People are being assaulted. People are being harassed. Because the Americans who participated validated everything that he had said and done on November 8th. Whether or not you’ve said something racist, xenophobic, sexist, or homophobic no longer matters. By casting your vote you said that those people do not matter to you.

After my last post, I received numerous messages from people of all ages. Only two of those messages disagreed with what I said. Those people told me that I upset them, and that I had broken their hearts. I wish that it had been enough for them to realize that something has got to change. I only hope that they understand that their actions and vote upset me and broke my heart, and the hearts of millions of other people that they claim to love.

Most people agreed that there is a fundamental issue within the hearts and minds of the church.

We are no longer talking about healthcare, or the military, or the economy (which is actually in pretty great shape currently), or abortion, or the Supreme Court. We are talking about being decent, good human beings. We are discussing the gap between our words and actions. The church is supposed to be a place of love and support. I haven’t seen that in a long time. I see something that is fake, completely inauthentic. I don’t see Christ in Christians and that is an issue.

The rest of the nation looks to Christians. They look to see how Christians act. What I see is hypocrisy. It’s something that makes me dread coming home. It’s something that makes me not want to be around you, or not be anything like you.

You see, I have always strived to please people. When I was seven years old I overheard my parents talking in the kitchen. My mom was crying because she did not know how they were going to pay for mine and my brother’s college. I made a pact with my seven year old self then that I would do whatever it took to take that burden off of my parents. I worked, I studied, I got involved. I currently have my education at the University of Kentucky paid for.

But I have realized that this needs to stop. I must think for myself. I shouldn’t worry about what others think. I must stand up for what I believe in because that’s how we get the America that we want. That’s how I become the woman I want to be. By taking a stand with pride and participating fully.

This is the gap that we need to close:

While you’re fighting for your 2nd amendment right, I am scared to death to go to class because we don’t have common sense gun laws in this country and I go to school with 30,000 people who could end my life at any moment.

While you’re stressing about creating jobs, I’m stressing about getting home before dark so that I won’t become a victim of assault.

While you’re worried about healthcare premiums rising, I’m worried about my rent going up because my scholarships won’t cover it.

While you’re worried about your race or gender being on top, I’m worried about my friends who are being harassed for being who they are.

While you’re worried about a Supreme Court judge, I’m worried about climate change and whether or not my children will have a planet to live on.

While you’re worried about stopping abortion, I’m worried about my ability to get birth control, or cancer screenings, or any other aspect of women’s health.

While you’re worried about something, I’m worried about police overreach, I’m worried about immigration reform, I’m worried about criminal justice reform, I’m worried about education reform, I’m worried about things that may not directly affect me. But I don’t need to be affected in order to realize that others need me to stand with them.

We’re not all that different, we might worry about different things and that’s okay. We’re all different in some ways; we have different experiences and backgrounds. But we must all choose to come together, and work together.

You can’t assume that you’re correct. You can’t write someone off before you know them. You can’t decide to not budge on your opinion but expect someone else to. You have to listen and not just hear what you want. You have to be open and honest and actually understand why you believe certain things.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. You get to choose how you respond to them. My hope for the future is that we respond with authentic love and hope, and not with the hatred that we are currently seeing.




“Nothing will come of nothing.”

It’s the classic story that you’ve heard your entire life. It’s a question you are asked in small groups, and from the pulpit. It’s an issue that you swear is important to you.

The story I’m talking about, is why college students, millennials, are moving away from the church.

I was in church before I was a week old. I have gone every week, three times a week, since then. I have plaques and trophies from Awana. I read the Bible all the way through my junior year of high school. I’m a Deacon’s kid. My mom has played in the orchestra since she was 13. My dad is not only a Deacon, but also a Sunday School teacher.

And I can’t stand to go to my church now.

The catalyst for my feelings has been the 2016 election. I don’t pretend to hide my opinions. I don’t try to agree with everyone. It may be wrong that I’ve gotten so caught up in the election, but don’t pretend like you haven’t.

My biggest pet peeve is intentional ignorance. When people choose to follow those implicit biases that we all have. When they choose to only believe what certain people or groups tell them. When they refuse to learn, grow, and mature.

Being a business student, I have learned that a major part of success, in business and in our personal lives, is constant learning. It’s imperative to constantly be learning, because in order to survive we must be flexible. We must adapt. We must change. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Change is not an option. The world changes. People change. Perspectives shift. Life is about change. The only thing that you can choose, is how you react to those changes.

I try to see the world from the perspective of others. I really do. This is a way that I learn. Sometimes, however, I cannot understand the thought process of others. I don’t understand how someone could commit murder. I don’t understand how someone could cheat on their spouse. I don’t understand how people could mock others for no reason other than to just be mean. I don’t understand how a Christian could vote for Donald Trump.

I know that those of you who read my posts just to have something to complain about are probably rolling your eyes right now. I realize that my entire social media is dedicated to his opponent. But keep reading, part of maturing is learning to listen to someone else’s perspective, and then respecting that point of view. If you can’t do that, maybe you should go and experience a few new things.

I don’t understand how a Christian could vote for Donald Trump because this man goes against nearly every principle that the Bible teaches. You say that you’re voting for Supreme Court justices, or that you’re voting for the platform. But I hate to tell you, he is not going to be the champion of the American people.

He doesn’t have a religious background. Yes, he claims to be a Christian. Do we really see that in his actions? It is so abundantly clear that he believes that he’s better than everyone else. He has attacked numerous groups of people. He doesn’t understand how Congress works. He doesn’t have respect for others, or for our institutions of democracy. He wants to build a wall. Nearly every word that comes out of his mouth is a blatant lie. He has bragged about sexual assault. He has said that he never asks for God’s forgiveness, or even brings God into the equation. Is this what Christianity is all about now?

So you say that you’re voting for supreme court justices, and Donald seems to be pro-life. However, he did not take that stance until the middle of this Presidential campaign. He took this stance to manipulate people into thinking that he’s the better choice. He adapted in order to be successful. This tactic is so transparent, and yet, it’s still working.

You attack Hillary because she believes in a woman’s right to choose. I can’t say that I agree personally, but who am I to tell a rape survivor that she must give birth to her attacker’s child. Who am I to tell anyone else, what they should and shouldn’t do. That is why the Founding Fathers created the separation of church and state. They understood that many people, with different faiths, would be coming into this country and making decisions. Their genius saw into the future in a way that we can’t even imagine. They understood that there would be differing perspectives and that the United States would not be a place where one religion is seen as more important than another. It’s why they gave us the freedom of religion in the first amendment. However, it seems that us Christians pick and choose which amendments, which issues, and which institutions of government we support. But just like we can’t pick and choose with the Bible, we can’t pick and choose with our government. The Bible actually tells us to respect our authority, to respect our government and to follow the law.

While I am all for standing up for what you think is right, I see so many Christians doing this in a condescending way. It’s an attitude that is not going to bring anyone to God or to church. You are attacking people, and making others feel as if they are less intelligent, and less important than you. But the Christianity that I learned from taught that we are no better than anyone else. That we are all the same in God’s eyes.

This election parallels the election of 1800 so much that it is shocking. In 1800 the race ended up being between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. You see, the problem with Burr was that he was too malleable, like Trump. His beliefs changed depending on who he was talking to. He was never consistent. Jefferson was more like Hillary. You may disagree with her, many disagreed with Jefferson, but they could never doubt that he had beliefs.

I would rather have a President who has had 30 years of experience in public service, than one who has spent his recent years in entertainment and creating businesses that help no one, but himself. I would rather have a President who has changed her opinion on some issues because life has taught her that sometimes we need to change our perspectives, than a man who has no foundation of beliefs.

So why are millennials leaving the church? I can’t speak for all of us. But I know for this millennial, there is a gap between what the Bible teaches, and how Christians act. You say that you love everyone, and that we are all equal, but that doesn’t translate to your daily lives. You pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe in. You truly believe that you are better than everyone else because you are involved with a church.

I hope this makes you stop and think, because these words and feelings aren’t coming from a strong Atheist. They’re coming from one of you. Someone who has looked up to you for almost twenty years. However, even if you’re still reading, this won’t be important enough to you. Because just like what happens with the victims of gun violence; you think that your second amendment right is more important than a life. You will think that your pride, and your reputation are more important than my life and my relationship with the church. I see it every day. I will continue to see it. Because no matter how biting my words are, they will be forgotten because you have been told, by the church, that you are “the choir”, that you’re the most faithful, and you will not change no matter how obvious it is that you must.

“Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.”

People often ask me why I have become so vocal on my opinions during this Presidential Election. If I’m being completely honest, I rarely ever have a good answer. I have yet to be able to put my feelings into words.

Until this morning.

I share my opinions because it matters. I speak out against what I perceive as injustice because it matters. I stand up for what I believe in because it matters.

As Alexander Hamilton said, “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.”

I was raised to be tenacious and independent. My parents taught me to stand up and to speak out for what I believed in, no matter who disagreed. (I’m convinced every day that they regret this, as I am always the most persistent and opinionated person in the room.)

I was raised in a Baptist church that taught love, grace, and mercy to ALL people. These were the principles that became the foundations of my life. We strive to love people the way that Jesus does.

I was raised around people who were all my heroes. I looked up to these people because they embodied everything that I wanted to be as an adult. These people were successful, and respected. They were compassionate and strong.

This morning I woke up to a video, as is the daily procedure these days, concerning the election. I watched the video, and teared up. I got a lump in my throat, a lump that I still have while writing this. Yes, it was a clip of Donald Trump.

I am a 19 year old college student, not a 70 year old “businessman”. I haven’t met as many people, or traveled to as many places as Donald Trump. However, I truly believe that I have managed to gain more insight, and more of the crucial life experiences that are necessary in order to be a knowledgable, all-in citizen of this world.

When I was in high school I went to GSP. This is a program that teaches high school juniors about themselves and others. While there, we participated in activities that forced you to determine your opinion on serious social issues, such as the death penalty, gay marriage, and abortion. When you stated your opinion, you had to have your own reasoning. “That’s what your parents believed”, or “that’s what you’ve always known”, wasn’t good enough. While there, I was also verbally and mentally attacked for being a Christian. Take a guess as to who came to my rescue when I felt that I could no longer defend myself? My muslim friend Sami. We chose to be supportive, and to defend one another because we had enough respect for each other to allow a friendship to grow. He taught me, and I taught him. Our perspectives changed, and so did we.

Once I got to college I was selected to participate in the Leadership Development Program. This program was built around workshops, similar to the ones at GSP. They forced us to isolate our differences, and discuss them in an open environment. We shattered stereotypes among ourselves. This allowed our entire worldview to shift.

These experiences that I have under my belt, have taught me the most important lesson in our world today. The lesson is that all people will have different experiences than you. No one is exactly the same. This will cause your perspectives to be different. This will cause you to not see the world exactly the same as they do. We must have empathy. We must be open-minded. We must show respect to others. We must be willing to openly and deeply discuss our views without changing the subject, or arguing.

This election has shown me what the people in my life are truly like, whether that’s good or bad. I now know what the people in my life value, and are truly passionate about.

When it comes to Donald Trump, I wish that weren’t the case. I have seen people from my church support a man solely because he’s a Republican and we’re from Kentucky. They have thrown those foundations of love and grace out the window. There is not love, nor grace, nor mercy for ALL people. Only the people who look, think, and act like they do. It’s unfortunate that I feel as if I can no longer even attend a service, or look up to these people, because I now know what these “Christians” believe and stand for. It’s not love. Donald Trump loves no one but himself. He has attacked countless groups of people, physically and verbally. He has said that he does NOT ever bring God into the picture of his life. I know some say to “vote for the platform”. But there is a major issue when the leader of the Republican party does not agree with almost anything on that party platform.

Did you know that Donald Trump has changed political parties six times since 1987? This shows me that he has no foundation of beliefs for his life. He changes to get what he wants. After all, that’s “good business”. Did you know that he has donated more money to Democratic candidates than Republican candidates? Did you know that he said that he won Nevada because of the “uneducated”? Did you know that he said his favorite modern President was Bill Clinton? Did you know that his first wife accused him of rape and he settled? Did you know that four of his businesses have filed for bankruptcy? This is just scratching the surface. He is dirty. He is a liar. He does not care about working people, or anyone but himself and those just like him. Do not let him fool you.

He says that his attacks are just verbal, but words lead to actions, and he has already acted on some fronts. But even if words did not lead to actions, are we going to validate the words that he’s said. Are we going to show our children, and future generations that this is the kind of America, the kind of people, the kind of Christians that we want to be?

I know Hillary has some scandals, and some mistakes under her belt as well. But once she makes them, she apologizes and moves on. She never makes the same mistake twice. Donald Trump never sincerely apologizes, he attacks people to distract from his own inability to be a leader. That is what children do. I know, because I did it with my brother when we were in trouble in order to distract my parents from what I did. However, true, effective, good leadership is about strengthening people. It’s about lifting people up to the point where they can achieve great things.

There are people in my life who are blindly supporting Donald. I say blindly because they refuse to participate in the political process. They refuse to watch debates, or fact check, or educate themselves on the issues. They vote Republican because that’s what they’ve always done. The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over, and expecting a different result. Change is not an option. How we react to change is the only thing that is optional. Everyone around me is adamant that they “want change”. However, when that change starts to occur, they realize that their lives will never be the same. They retreat to their comfort zones, where they’re safe, and where they’re correct.

Change will not happen unless we are willing to step out of our comfort zones. It will not happen unless we speak out on what we believe in. Last year I learned to never settle, we must never settle for less than what we want. If we want change, we must make it happen, if not for ourselves, then for the future.

Ten years from now I will be married, and will hopefully have a baby or two. I will teach them to be passionate, and independent. I will teach them to always question the majority. They will love others the way that Jesus does. They will accept people no matter their background, gender, or any other defining factor. They will hate no one. They will show love in their actions, not just their words. They will be educated, and will be encouraged to ask why because their opinions matter. Their voices matter. Their feelings matter. I will not validate cruel words in front of them by supporting people like the Republican nominee. I will not allow them to use people to achieve what they want. They will be honest. They will be hard-working. They will be compassionate to everyone they meet. They will learn from other people, places, and cultures. They will have integrity. My sons will not grow up to be like Donald Trump. My daughters will not grow up thinking that they need to marry a man like Donald Trump. My children will not believe that it is normal, or good, or decent to act the way that Donald acts.

This is a pivotal point in my life, and in our country. The world is watching. History has its eyes on us. In order to form a more perfect union, we must do what we’ve never done. We must be willing to embrace empathy. If we want to live in a Christian nation, we must embrace the principles that The Bible teaches. We must come to the realization that everyone needs Jesus, and to some people, we are the only Jesus they will ever see. We must realize that we are no better than anyone else in this world. We are all equal. We will always be equal.

I hope this offends you. I hope this post forces you to look at your words, thoughts, and actions and to determine whether or not you’re being the kind of person, and role model that you want to be. I promise that someone is watching you. Even if you don’t agree with me politically, we can all agree that being a good person is more important that being correct. We can agree that all people have feelings and that those feelings are valid. Understand that life is not about being right, it’s about doing good. I hope this encourages you, or pushes you, to evaluate your beliefs, and to educate yourselves deeply. I hope that you interact with someone or something that shifts your perspective. The world needs more well-rounded people.

The world needs people who will stand up for what they believe in, and people who will never settle for less than what they feel is right.