Over two years ago I attended my own wedding. In fact I was the bride, complete with a vintage yet slightly poufy wedding dress, 50 guests, and one handsome wubby (our term for my spouse who is legally a wife but acts way more like a hubby). The wedding took a few months to plan, and auspiciously everything came together at the last minute, in spite of one or two hiccups. We had a beautiful outdoor ceremony surrounded by family who flew or drove in to Portland, and friends who live in town. The reception was at a quiet and lovely coffee shop that we all walked to after the wedding.
To be able to legally marry my beloved was a gift. However the politics regarding the marriage issue was not in the spotlight that day. The day was about our getting married and not about the politics behind same-sex marriage A friend bought us a pretty “Mrs. & Mrs.” cake topper shortly after I invited her to the wedding. We used it and I made a wall banner that said the same thing. The idea to me had less to do with social commentary and more to do with simply acknowledging that yes…we both happen to be becoming legally Mrs. & Mrs. I know some of our guests that day looked at the affair as a reinforcement of their own open-mindedness but I had hoped they were there because they loved us as people and not as gay people (which let’s be clear, not all same-sex couples identify as gay).
To date the wedding guests were still in touch with are just our family members and 4 friends. How did this happen? 2 things: 1. Leaving 12 step recovery. 2. Not adhering to the liberal party line. We’re not social pariahs per se, but we learned that if you want to embrace your values, as a family or as individuals, that you may have to make peace with a little loneliness.
One by one former friends stopped calling after we decided we were not in need of 12 step dogma. It’s fine for other people (though I question it’s source, founders, medical validity, etc.) but for us the program was not useful or needed or wanted anymore. It was time to move on but we still felt fondly towards the many friends we thought we had that we knew from 12 steps groups. We didn’t take the growing exclusion from their lives as an insult or decide that these folks were bad. We figured that when you leave a group that means you no longer have the something that brought you together to keep you together. It wasn’t easy to learn friend after friend was gone, but we figured the true friends would remain.
We were not prepared for the level of hostility people we knew had inside them regarding politics. Ironically we had shared our discomfort over twisted media, politicians, and policies years ago. We shared our discomfort…not our rage. We kept political discussions funny, respectful, fact based, and were willing to hear other points of view, so long as the discussion remained respectful. Somehow we got along with people who were both quite liberal or quite conservative, noticing that the conservatives tended to actually be more affirming of our right to disagree.
Yet this weekend we lost another friend to politics. The goofy thing is my wife and I are for the most part moderate with some definite libertarian/conservative leanings. We don’t want to share a bathroom with a man in a dress nor do we want to tell a man he can’t wear a dress. Isn’t there room for both inclinations to be true for a thinker? Can’t someone support legal immigration and want to protect your home country’s borders? Can’t you like both country music and hip-hop? Ok that last one wasn’t about politics but I admit to heartily enjoying Trace Adkins song “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”.
As I watch the city I once loved become riddled with a kind of self-obsessed smug liberalism that preaches tolerance yet dismisses easily and coldly any concern for respectful disagreement and free thought, I feel a sense of woe. Sadness over not being able to take a walk, go to the gym, see a doctor, or enter a store without politics, especially anti-Trump politics being at the forefront. People need a break from politics so they can better contemplate their beliefs and ideas. Having to be constantly be confronted with an attitude that it is one’s duty to be political at all times, makes it harder to be social.
The blessing here is faith. No longer does my family adhere to any type of group-think or ideology to have friends. We don’t expect this world and the people in it to give us peace. In fact we are clear this world will not give us or anyone else respite. We have learned faith in Christ provides far more than anyone’s opinion ever could.
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 1 Peter 2 1-3 KJV
People in our lives come and go. I suspect many generations of peoples have lost friends for all kinds of crappy reasons like disagreements about stuff that ultimately need not get in the way of enjoyable social interaction. I know my wife and I aren’t the only people right now losing friends for not adhering to some type of ideology or idea among their peers. So if you’re out there feeling a little lonely over politics and/or being a free thinker, know you’re not alone (and no you don’t have to agree with my marriage either). The blessing of forgiveness and loving those who cannot love us may feel bittersweet at moments, but it certainly is better than simply being bitter.