“What Happened to Her?”

I was recently made aware that some have been asking “what happened to Lesa?” in regard to my “drastic” move to nonpartisanship, listening to understand, etc. and I have been pondering this question ever since. I’m choosing to interpret the tone of the question as respectful and wanting to understand the changes because they are encouraged by them, even though I assume the tone was one of indignation and disbelief that Lesa could ever leave the Republican party (the audacity) and question things.

I have been very open about this journey here on my blog, and it wasn’t an overnight shift. It happened over the course of years and I have never been more at peace. I desperately want others to join me on this side of things because I know that it’s the best, most gracious – most Jesus-like – way to approach life, politics, and relationships.

Instead of being angry and yelling at people to get them to see my way, I have tried to be gentle, provide thought-provoking conversations, and share articles that will help others see a different perspective because I see my former self in so many around me. I have shared my journey openly with my Newborn Screening adventure in Pennsylvania and how partisan politics delayed the process by four years, sharing the insights I gleaned along the way.

But there’s always a time when the awakened man or woman—no matter the righteous idea they’re awake to—faces a defining choice. We’ll call it the choice between the open hand or the closed fist. Do you verbally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically punch your way into the public square, or do you approach with compassion, grace, and humility—often knowing that you are speaking to people who were just like you days, weeks, or years ago?

David French, “How Fundamentalism Fails”

I have continued to do these things for more than two years and have lost friends (and even had family members block me on Facebook) in the process. It’s truly baffling to me.

We always teach our children to be good sports, to compromise, and to resolve disagreements, but then we, as adults, do the opposite, especially when it comes to political beliefs. Why do we do this? Why do we perpetuate the very characteristics we seek to train out of our children? Even worse, we justify it with questionable arguments.

Because fundamentalism is very good at capturing institutions, it’s then easy to feel both wounded and homeless at the same time. And while you’re reeling in pain, other people are sneering in contempt. You were never a Christian. You were never one of us. You are weak, they say—even when the hardest and most dangerous thing you’ve ever done in your life might be to say no to your own community when you know they’ve gone awry. 

David French, “How Fundamentalism Fails”

Deconstructing both my politics and the way I live out my faith has not been easy and it’s not something I sought to do – it happened to me. Being brave enough to speak out against the wrongs I see being committed in the name of Jesus doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s a result of growth and has led to me becoming such a better person.

I have been criticized, judged, and mocked. Assumptions have been made and people have talked about me behind my back instead of asking me about my journey directly. I’ve had to draw boundary lines with people I love because they are unwilling to engage in meaningful conversations and refuse to believe that “my way” of listening to understand and finding the good in both platforms can work.

But it does.

2003 Lesa – interning for Newt Gingrich in Washington, D.C. – would have laughed at the idea of nonpartisanship, but 2003 Lesa had no idea what was ahead and what would be learned by actual experience.

In order to get to this place of certainty about the best way to move forward in our country, I had to admit that I had been terribly wrong. I’ve never been happier to be wrong. In fact, I enjoy learning that I’m wrong about things now because that means I’ve discovered the truth and I’ve become more humble along the way.

One of those truths I’ve discovered is that partisanship is destroying our culture and our country and we must find a better way.

So the answer to the question of “what happened to Lesa?” is that I have become more open-minded, humble, educated, and peaceful. I’ve embraced the idea that politics CAN and MUST be done differently if we are going to last as a country. After all, we teach our children to compromise, find common ground, and do the hard work it takes to solve problems. It’s time we model that in how we approach those who see things differently.

The other party is NOT evil, though there are imperfect people in each. Both parties essentially want the same things, they simply have different ideas about how to get there and unless we work together and LISTEN, we won’t get there. Their perspectives and ideas are valid, and it’s only by listening to understand that we can truly make the necessary changes we need to see in our states and our country. It starts with each of us.

This isn’t the entertaining way – it’s far more fun to be outraged and feel like you have an enemy, which is what happens when you view this as a competitive sport and allow your “coach” (party) to tell you what to think and feel. But I promise you that this way is the better, more peaceful, more productive way. And I’m here to help you find it.

If you’ve read this post (and other posts about this) and still feel like this doesn’t apply to you or that partisanship (and Christian Nationalism) are justified and righteous, I will be a little more bold:

If you claim to follow Jesus, listening to understand is one of the most biblical things you can learn to do. Why?

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

To listen to understand requires:

  • Loving your neighbor as yourself (and treating the other side as humans with value)
  • Humility (willing to admit that you could be wrong about something and make changes if you are)
  • Grace (to realize that people can make mistakes – even you – and they are deserving of grace and love)
  • All the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control)

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Galatians 5:22-26

It is NOT our job to control the lives of those around us in the name of Jesus. It is NOT our job to convict others. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit. Much of the American Evangelical Church is consumed with Christian Nationalism and forcing biblical beliefs upon others, and that’s not our job. In fact, that’s the opposite of our job. We are to introduce people to Jesus and demonstrate what it means to fully follow Him. Let’s do our job and let Him do the rest.

Now, more than any other time, people view your political viewpoints through the lens of morality. And if you are on the wrong side, then you are an immoral person, and you might as well be friends with somebody who, like, kills puppies...If we want a country that is less divisive, we need to be less divisive ourselves.”

Shame is not a good changer of behavior.” Her theory is that American politics would work better if more people extended more empathy to others. Many people “fundamentally misunderstand the motivations of the other side,” she said, but when you let go of your assumptions, you can see the humanity in the other person. “It’s hard,” she added, “to hate people up close.”

Sharon McMahon, The Atlantic

4 thoughts on ““What Happened to Her?”

  1. Lesa, I think what you are doing is great, the world needs more people who are willing to step and and follow their hearts. Thank you for all you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lesa,

    I’m so sorry some folks have been so terrible! I’m so appreciative of you! Thank you for sharing your journey…you are such a blessing!! We love you!

    The Grimwoods

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s