This world is wild. You’ve got nearly 16 weeks in the womb now. You’re already quickly becoming a little human! Sometimes I fear bringing you into this wild world. But then I remember that what I see on the television and social media is just a small glimpse of what this world is really like. And while it is really wild, it’s also really beautiful. Please remember that. Someday you will be older and you’ll look around you and you will wonder, “what in the world is this life? What is going on?” You will have to work on finding the beauty that I mention. It isn’t always easy. But I promise it is worth it. And I promise it is always there.
Two years ago this week I visited Africa for the first time. I spent 10 days on a medical mission trip – visiting villages and delivering health care to Africans who don’t have as much, materially, as Americans. They also don’t have the access to healthcare that Americans have. They don’t have food and water at their disposal. The truth is, they needed us while we were there, but I needed that trip so badly, too. Because while they don’t have what Americans have, in many aspects, they have so. much. more. You will never understand what I mean until you go yourself. And I hope you do. I will do everything in my power to take you there so you can experience first-hand the joy that is so prominent that it brings you to tears. The simple joy that comes from having so little that you find beauty and thankfulness and hope all around you in the things that really matter.
Two years ago I was starting to get jaded. Do you know what that means? To me, it means you start to view the world around you in a negative light. I felt hopeless sometimes, and helpless. I was frustrated with Christians (people, like me, who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus) but I was also frustrated with non-Christians (people, different from me, who claim to follow another God, or none at all). I found myself arguing about silly things. I felt myself getting anxious, stressed, angry. I felt myself getting further away from my relationship with God.
And then I went to Africa. And life changed for me. I look at the world differently now. I am calmer. I am better about separating emotion from fact. Feelings I should have from feelings I shouldn’t. I try to think things through thoroughly. I try to let others talk first. I try to listen. I truly try to…. Listen to the people and the world around me. And I watch. I don’t always do it well. But I sure try. Above all else, after that trip to Africa, I am thankful for this life. It is precious. And there is joy all around, you have just got to find it. And then focus on it. You have to take the bad sometimes, tune it out the other times. Don’t let it consume you. There will always be bad in this world. But there will always be good, too.
It is the year 2020. 2020 is a very negative year for so many. It’s really, really hard to escape the negativity this year. Even with all of the trying I do to not let it creep into my life – it is like 2020 has a dark grey cloud over it. I worry about you. I worry about life will be like when you’re growing up. I know this is natural- many moms-to-be likely worry. You will someday read in your history book about the pandemic of 2020. Your teachers may talk about it because they, too, lived through it. Not only are we facing a global health crisis because of a new to the world flu-like respiratory illness that has taken lives (hence why we call it the “pandemic”), but we face an unprecedented election year here in America. Election years in America are absolutely wild. They are likely wild all over the world. But this election year is like no other year I have lived through.
To me, 2020 is mostly negative because of all of the hate that is going around. It. Is. Everywhere. People are turning against people. Women against women. Men against men. Families against families. If you are currently a person voting for one of our presidential nominees, Joe Biden, some people may call you stupid, a sheep, blind, an idiot. These are names I have heard some people being called. I’ve heard that you cannot be smart if you are voting for Joe Biden. Yet, scientists and doctors and nurses and military generals and some of the most educated people in this world support a Joe Biden presidency. How can someone call you stupid, because of your presidential choice? How can you be called stupid by someone who doesn’t even know you? I don’t know the answers baby, but I feel sorry for the hearts of those people. If you are voting for Donald Trump, some people will call you worse. They will call you a racist. They will call you homophobic. They will call you hateful. They will say you are evil. How can someone call you a racist, because of your presidential choice? How can you be called racist, homophobic, evil by someone who doesn’t even know you? I don’t know the answers baby, but I feel sorry for the hearts of those people. I know really great people on a personal level who are voting for Joe Biden. And I know really great people on a personal level who are voting for Donald Trump. A beauty I find in this life is that we were all made differently. We all come to beliefs and ideas and conclusions based on our own lives and how we see, feel, interact with the world. I hope you never judge someone based on who they vote for. I hope you try, even when it seems impossible, to see where that person is coming from. You don’t have to agree with that person! Ever. Respect him or her anyway.
What I want you to remember, and what I remember this year is that generalizations are hardly ever accurate. Generalizations take away from the heart of an individual. I don’t know what the world will be like by the time you are old enough to read and understand this. But I can imagine there will still be people who make pointless generalizations. There are still people who choose (or cannot?) think outside of themselves to see where another person is coming from. I urge those people to spend a lot of time with people different from themselves to acquire the ability to do so. And I urge you to do that. It’s worth it. Some of my favorite conversations in this life have been with people who are so different from me. If you only surround yourself with people who think and believe and act exactly like you do, then you’re doing yourself, and this world, a huge disservice.
2020 will pass. The election year will pass. America will move on. There will always be hate. And there will always be beauty. Choose which one you want to focus on, and which one you will radiate.