A Love Affair...

"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death."
                                                                                         --Leonardo da Vinci

I am often asked two questions: "Why am I so opinionated?" --AND-- "Why do I love politics so much?" To the question of being opinionated, I have no good answer. Call it DNA, call it obnoxiousness, call it what you like; I'm not always proud of my inability to remain neutral but it is simply a part of who I am. And trust me, I have worked hard over the last few years to reign it in!! The person you read now is the new and improved, more diplomatic me!! As to the question of my love and perhaps even unhealthy obsession with the political happenings of our country, the answer is complex and ever-changing. And in some ways, you need the whole story to fully understand this conservative country girl. 
I grew up in small town Texas. I am the daughter of dairy farmers turned professionals. I learned very early about the importance of acreage, spring-fed ponds and hard work. I knew my parents struggled financially and at the age of ten, I realized that my daddy made ends meet by simply 'robbing Peter to pay Paul'. My parents didn't live extravagantly but my brother, sister and I had everything we needed and most of what we wanted. My dad worked two jobs, my mom stayed at home with us, she didn't get her hair done at a salon, and we all wore clothes from Walmart. My dad owned a gun and my mom loved to shoot it. We went to church occasionally and didn't watch much television. My parents weren't perfect but they were completely committed to our family and worked each day to better our lives and teach us the difference between right and wrong.

As a child, my family didn't sit around the dinner table and carry on political conversations. In fact, I don't ever remember my parents or grandparents discussing voting, defense spending, the second amendment, entitlements, or abortion. However, I knew what an FHA loan was and I understood the correlation between our family income and the price of milk and corn. I vaguely remember the end of Reagan's presidency but clearly remember the national saga of President Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, an infamous navy blue dress and the cigar. I knew my daddy was a democrat because he still liked Bill Clinton after all of that.  
In the mid-nineties I entered the dreaded years of adolescence. When I became a teenager I, like so many teens, knew everything. Literally, EVERYTHING! I was completely psychotic, rebellious for no good reason, confused and self-destructive. Those were long, miserable years for my parents, my siblings, and myself. Those "dark years" taught me some really hard life lessons (and gave my parents loads of gray hair) but they also gave me an insight into the unfairness of life, the weakness of humanity and the fallen world around me. My eyes had been opened. 
At the age of twenty I regained my sanity for a few months and enrolled at a university in Richardson, Texas. When I went to register for my college classes, my plan was simple: I selected the degree track that required the least amount of math and science. In the state of Texas, at that time, that major was Government. And there, in a small classroom at a growing university, a love affair began. 
POLITICS! The entire realm excited me! I fell in love with our national history. I love the David and Goliath-like revolutionary battles that took place between our Founding Fathers and the British crown. I love our Judeo-Christian foundation and the way that God is, contrary to modern belief, woven into the essence of America. I love the 'democratic experiment' that produced a nation like no other. I love the perfection of the Declaration of Independence and marvel at the unimaginable bravery of our fore fathers, their wives, and their children. I love the passion of the Revolutionary ministers and the sacrifice of so many unnamed heroes. I love the eloquence and the never-ending relevance of the Constitution. I love the resilience of our nation in times of darkness and transition. I swell with pride when I consider the promise of hope and a future that she has and continues to represent to people all around the world. I am so thankful and eternally grateful that a loving and almighty Father gifted me with freedoms and liberties that I didn't deserve when He made me American. Truly, in my early twenties, I fell in love with America.

And then, against many odds and only because of God's unending grace, I fell in love with and had the honor of marrying an American soldier. Incredible, huh?!? Looking back, there was a strange perfection to the months of my life prior to me meeting and marrying Jonathan. The LORD was preparing me intellectually to take on and learn a new sort of life: a life of service. I became enthralled with the aftermath of 9/11 and spent hours reading about terrorism and foreign policy. I read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and a biography on Thomas Jefferson. By the time I became Mrs. Jonathan A. Newsom, I could carry on a fairly intelligent conversation about the modern military and conservative fiscal policy. 

In the Army, they called the first few months of my military life a 'baptism by fire'. I called it traumatic. Jonathan and I were married for 4 short months before he was sent to Iraq the first time. They told us (wives) that the war would be quick and that the boys would probably be home within 4 to 6 months. I, like so many others, was young, naive, and far away from home and family. I was required to attend and expected to host military briefings and family readiness meetings. We sent soooo many care packages. We organized meals for new mommies and provided childcare for friends who needed it. We watched women go through pregnancy, miscarriage, birth and chemotherapy without the support of their spouse. We carried our phones around with us like life lines and wrote letters to our soldiers telling them about our daily lives. We read newspapers, watched the news; anything to catch a glimpse or find out a bit of information about our soldiers and their mission. We stayed busy and 'lived life' together. We laughed and cried and watched each other's wedding videos and laughed and cried some more. Some days were good; lonely, but good. Then, suddenly, a phone would ring, the news would be given and we would know that in the next week we would be attending a memorial service for another fallen hero. The widows were young and beautiful; some with children, some without. The mother's were bleary eyed and broken. The children were confused and crying: some of the older sons stood stoically beside their mother's side; their young lips quivering but chins held high, proud of their parent's sacrifice and willing to receive the folded American flag.

I can't describe what it is like to attend the memorial service of a young man or young woman that has been sent to war for the sake of this nation and her people. I can't describe the guilt that surfaces when your soldier comes home alive, not wounded; and others don't. Your heart breaks in a way that words can't convey. Your mind races, your stomach hurts, you don't sleep and doubts about life, goodness, evil and purpose emerge from the depths of your soul. But in those moments, if you're able, you see something amazing: You realize what it means to be a part of something greater than yourself. You understand that your soldier fights not only for himself, or for you, or for your children, but for the millions of Americans he has sworn an oath to defend. You realize that his or hers life's success is measured not by monetary riches or any material possession but measured by whether or not they leave this world better, safer and more free than they found it. You realize that your soldier loves foreigners dwelling in a distant land with the same Christ-like love that he or she shows their brother or best friend. 

I have seen the very best of a generation that so many write off as "worthless and entitled". I have seen true honor through the brave acts of young heroes and the willing sacrifices of their families. I still marvel at the incredible resilience I witnessed and the life lessons I learned during our time in the service. And because of what I saw and because of what I learned, I love this country in a fierce, passionate way. I choose to see America's goodness and accept her imperfection because I have seen, through the eyes of a deployed soldier, what the lack of freedom looks like. I don't want my country "fundamentally transformed", I want her renewed!! I don't want America redefined, I want her reclaimed. And although I know that the LORD is in control and that He is victorious in the end, I still desire to do my part. I have seen the sacrifice involved with obtaining liberty and securing freedoms and absolutely refuse to sit silently while attempts are made to sabotage mine and my children's.  In the book of Esther, chapter 4 verse 14, it says, "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” I am not royal but I have been given great gifts. And like Esther, I am sometimes frightened and feel as though I can do very little. But she rose to the challenge of her time and helped secure her people and in doing so, established a strong Biblical legacy. This is our here and this is our now. This is the time in history that the LORD has afforded us and I don't know about y'all, but I intend to seek His will and be invested and engaged in this imperfect, but miraculous nation He saw fit to create. I am committed to loving this land and her people in a way that reflects Christ's love for me. But I will not compromise on truth. I will not compromise on life. I will not lower my standards to meet the masses. I am committed to fighting a good fight while keeping my eye on the prize. I am committed to preserving the goodness and greatness that first drew me into this amazing national love affair.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post!!! Glad you got the whole blog thing figure out.