I remember the first time I voted in a presidential election.
I had turned eighteen a month before and was sharing this voting experience with my older brother Jonathan. We sat across from each other on the pink vinyl couches in the front of our bus. My sister Sharon ceremoniously pulled the absentee “butterfly” ballots from their envelope, along with the little metal tool used to punch the holes, indicating our choices. She then began videotaping the whole event as we read our ballots.
“Here’s the new voters casting their first vote for this election,” she said–or something to that effect. “Jonathan and Jessica. Here they are, folks.” The camera view swung toward Jonathan.
“Dole, Keeemp!” he exclaimed, pumping his fist victoriously. “Dole, Keeemp!” he repeated in his best southern drawl.
The camera swung toward me, but I was not as witty or humorous as my brother. I do not remember what I said, but I still remember the thrill that I experienced, knowing that this was my first time to cast my vote to elect a president of the United States. I gripped the ballot in one hand, the hole puncher in the other–a bit of terror rising. What if I punched the wrong holes?
Yesterday I once again exercised my right to vote as an American citizen, a privilege I have enjoyed since 1996. The process was a bit simpler than my absentee voting in the old days. I simply filled in little squares with black ink, then slid my ballot into a machine. The results were tallied within two minutes. Like many others, I took a “voting selfie” and then headed to work.
Did I think that I may have been choosing “between the lesser of two evils”? I would definitely have preferred Cruz. Did I fully grasp the serious nature of this election? To my own shame, I had only started to fully understand how serious this election was, although I realized both candidates had completely different platforms. I knew that this election was important, and I never questioned whether I would cast a vote.
However, I began to see that the importance of this election was not simply based on Trump or Clinton winning, but ultimately on who appointed the next judge to the Supreme Court, and whether the Senate and the House would be predominately conservative.
Refusing to vote meant that certain beliefs that I held dear might be targeted in future years–perhaps my right to witness, pass out a Gospel tract, attend a church service, or express my beliefs on abortion or the Second Amendment.
I was challenged a few days ago to think of how this election could expand or hamper our ability as Christians to continue getting the Gospel out. More than anything else during this election, that thought convicted me.
No matter what road America takes in the future, I know that my ultimate responsibility is to share the love of Christ with others. To help bring peace through the Prince of peace. Although I am thankful for any politician who tries to turn our nation back to its foundation, Christ alone can heal wounds, calm fears, and soothe anger and hatred. He alone has the power to bring our nation back to Himself.