A couple dozen teenagers dropped their shoes by my front door, devoured five large pizzas, a pan of brownies and 3 dozen cookies in about three seconds before gathering around the TV to watch the presidential debate. For some of them, it’s their first opportunity to cast a vote and they’re trying to choose responsibly. I scanned the crowd, pondering each teenage boy seated around our family room. I’m convinced they are good men in the making but growing up is an art, not a science and each of these guys are on a serious learning curve.
My mind wandered back to the first teenage boy who shaped my story.
I met him at church camp. He was 14 and had a crush on more than one girl that week. That should have been my first clue. But when you’re on the cusp of turning 13, you might as well walk around with a sign reading “GULLIBLE” across your chest.
The last day of camp, we went for a walk. He asked to hold my hand– to pray.
“Lame-O,” my daughter interrupts at this point in the story.
I don’t remember what we talked to God about but the thrill of connecting our hands felt supernatural.
After camp, he came over to my house a few times. His mom drove him and we walked to Baskin Robbins together for ice cream cones.
He called on my 13th birthday, and told me he had a gift for me.
“I love you,” he spoke tenderly into the phone.
I laughed mockingly. “No, you don’t.” I replied.
I sounded strong, independent and discerning but it was a façade and if he could have seen my heart, he’d have known he melted it.
I’d actually believed him or at least wanted to.
Such is the drama of teenage romance.
My guy, he wanted something from me. Maybe he hoped to wear my affection like a charm for others to admire validating his own desirability. Perhaps he longed to hear his own words reciprocated, to feel something inside him melt too. And he probably imagined bigger, better thrills than just holding hands.
I doubt he analyzed his motivations and at 14, he couldn’t begin to see his self centeredness.
If we’re honest, we’re all pretty much out for ourselves at that stage of the game. And it’s not just in romantic explorations. Everybody wants to feel desired, admired and relationally connected and we do what it takes to get what we want.
3 weeks after his declaration of love, he moved on, found a new conquest and my phone never rang again, at least not with his voice on the other end.
The next 4 years were like the inter-testamental silence, until one day he showed up at my back door, with his fiancé, proudly wanting to introduce me.
“What a jerk!,” the same daughter interrupts again.
It’s one thing to be self absorbed, a manipulative player at 14.
While it’s not nice and people on the receiving end get hurt, it’s understandable because growing up is messy and who, if given the chance would really want to do a repeat performance of the hormonal hurricane of adolescence.
The good news is that 14 year old boys grow up. I’m betting my guy did. He’s probably a fantastic husband, dad and maybe grandfather today.
They muddle through the relational confusion of adolescence. They live and learn and eventually, many of them start thinking about what it actually means to be a man, to love the girl they’re waxing eloquent with. They learn to protect, provide, defer to and respect others instead of using them. Even better, some take God’s instructive prescription for healthy relationships to heart and lay down their own self interests for the sake of others as their modus operendi.
Not so with Republican party Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
At 70, he still reminds me of a boy time-warped in adolescence.
Having spent a lifetime using whatever and whoever strengthens his image and feeds his ego personally, professionally and politically, he’s committed entirely to his own interests.
And I think it’s time for him to GROW UP!
Lately, he’s crushing on Republicans telling us how much he loves us, assuring us of his loyalty to our platform and confirming his commitment to sharing our values.
From my vantage point, it’s purely manipulation.
He wants our affection in the form of our votes.
But when and if he gets what he wants, he’ll strip his voters of their innocence and dump them, pursuing new conquests that feed his gratification and insatiable ego.
He’ll be the Winner and we’ll be the Losers.
There are a whole host of substantive and thoughtful reasons I can’t vote for Donald Trump. Honestly, I can’t even imagine why I’d need to explain them. And that’s not the point of this rant.
The bottom line is that I’m not 13 anymore. The sign across my chest at 50 reads “SCHREWD”. These past 37 years, I’ve done some living and learning myself, and I think this country needs something more than an overgrown, unrestrained teenage boy functioning as Commander in Chief and living in our White House, or for that matter, a woman married to one.
But those are our options.
And as a woman, I’m offended. As an American, I’m embarrassed.
So, I’m not voting for either of the party candidates.
In good conscience, I can’t.
How could I face my daughters with integrity if I did?
I’m not taking responsibility for either of them being granted the esteemed privilege of shepherding this great country.
And I’m grateful I have that choice.
For the first time ever, I’m going to do a write in.
Mickey Mouse, Joe the Plumber and Santa Claus were popular choices in the last election but I’ve decided to make my vote more personal.
So, I’m casting my ballot for the guy who wasn’t flip when told me he loved me.
The one who respects rather than exploits my femininity.
He’s the man who gets up everyday and works to provide for me and the children we share.
He’s the fella who cuts his own losses if it means his family can win.
Some might call it a wasted vote.
I’m calling it a vote of confidence for somebody who’s Apprenticing Jesus and learning His model of servant leadership.
And on November 9, I’ll wake up to the news of a new president elect in the United States of America.
I’ll be sure to have plenty of chocolate on hand.
And I’ll need to remind myself that history records a copious list of bad leaders. The Bible introduces us to a host of unqualified, morally corrupt, evil people who had no business holding the distinctive and prestigious responsibility of leading a nation but did.
Utlimately, God’s will or plans aren’t constrained by political systems or authorities.
And there is no leader on any day or year that can interrupt His fresh, new mercies sufficient for the times.
And in that confidence alone, I have hope.