Pearls & Vodka

Be a Prayer

“I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.”[1]

Fixer Upper is a popular show on HGTV featuring husband and wife team, Chip and Joanna Gaines. They team up with individuals/couples/families in the Waco, Texas area and renovate homes that have been run down. They take these homes that are in incredibly rough shape and turn them into the dream homes of their clients. The Gaines have done a lot for the city of Waco through their home renovations, their real estate company and their “silos” which is a shopping/bakery experience for visitors. The premise of the show is to take what has been broken down and restore it. And the Gaines are really good at it.

More often than not, our nation feels like we need a show like Fixer Upper to come in and work the HGTV magic in our country. And if I’m being honest, it might just take a Chip Gaines-inspired, “demo day!”

A lot of Americans would like to blame our angst in our country on President Trump. They’d like to say, “if Hillary had won…” and again, that is the beauty of this nation, freedom of speech. But I would contend that our issues started long before the 2016 election, and many players have had a role in developing our current situation, not just Donald Trump. Though I can agree he has not done a lot to help out. People so quickly forget the details of incidents that do not fit their narrative. Not to start a spiral of hate mail but, Colin Kaepernick has never knelt at a football game while Donald Trump has been President, that entire movement began under the Obama Administration. And before some of you get your panties in a wad, I’m not saying this is Barack Obama’s fault.

Simmer down now…

My point here is this, America is a nation full of humans (though some are questionable) and with humanity comes sin, and with sin comes a whole slew of troubles.

For the past few months, members of the United States Senate who belong to the Republican Party have been discussing healthcare. I differentiate what party they belong to because unfortunately, the GOP leadership did not see fit to involve their colleagues from across the aisle. I told you we had a whole slew of troubles around here.

In 2016, after the Affordable Care Act was in place, there were still 28.2 million Americans who were uninsured. Around 45% of those adults who were uninsured said they remained that way because they could not afford the cost of coverage even under the ACA. The majority of those who are uninsured are considered low-income families, or only have one person in their home who works. [2]

And here we are today, after an entire campaign season full of Republican promises to “repeal and replace Obamacare” with no consensus, no plan, no action. And as of Saturday, the 30th, the “budget reconciliation” period ends and the Senate will again be required to have 60 votes to pass any legislation and not just a “simple majority.” What is crazy to those of us who are right-leaning voters is that for the entire duration of the Obama Administration all we heard about was “repeal and replace” and yet here we are with all the opportunity in the world with a Republican-controlled House, Senate and White House and nothing.

Republicans are often called heartless because of things like opposition to the ACA, or “being against welfare.” Which I honestly take offense with that accusation.

I am a Republican.

At least I think I still am.

I know for certain I lean more right than left when it comes to fiscal issues and more left than right when it comes to social issues. So as I have said before on this blog, I’m “Mandy from the Middle.”

I am not in any way against welfare.

And I am not in any way against helping those who are struggling financially to afford healthcare.

But I am against free rides. I am against those who take advantage of the system and ruin the entire thing for those who really need it.

I am for things like drug tests to receive welfare, after all, I have to take drug tests to stay employed at my job, it only seems logical and fair.

And that doesn’t make me a bad person.

We have this epidemic in our country of trying to control everything under the disguise of “helping people” or “fixing things.” And really the fixes we want in place are generally things that push our own agendas further. And our ideas for “fixing things” are the only way that is correct, of course.

And that makes as little sense as reworking our healthcare system with only one side of the aisle being involved.

I am proud of Senators like John McCain who voted no and said they would continue to do so without working with both sides. I do not see what Senator McCain did as breaking his campaign promises. He does want to repeal and replace Obamacare, but the options he was given were not in the best interest of his constituents in Arizona, or the rest of the American people.

And just as a side note, I am thoroughly disgusted with the continual mocking and discrediting our President has done to Senator McCain. I had the privilege of working on Senator McCain’s campaign staff in 2008 and think very highly of him and his family. And previous work history aside, he is a great American, a POW, a soldier who willingly went to war for our nation. That’s a lot more than I can say of Donald Trump.

But I digress…

Americans want to “fix” things. And both sides of the aisle have completely different ideas on how to do so. Liberals are more inclined to provide federal funding to subsidize American citizens, while Republicans want to legislate at the state level what can and cannot be done to assist the citizens of each state.

Here’s a newsflash, neither side is wholly right. But neither side is wholly wrong. Gotta love those kinds of quandaries.

The truth is there are great lessons to take from each side to help the general population of this nation. This is a “first world” nation, and it is deplorable that anyone who is a citizen of this great nation is forced to live as if it is a “third world” country.

And we must do more to help our brothers and sisters.

I think my issue with both sides is, why does that have to be the responsibility of the government?

 Where are the churches? Where are the communities that use to ban together to protect and provide for their own?

How on earth do we have 428,000 children in foster care today, and we have roughly 51% of Americans attending churches weekly? [3] That seems so lopsided to me.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that there are almost 40,000 veterans who are homeless in the United States. [4] In 2016, there were a record, 10.8 million millionaires nationwide. [5]

How on earth is this possible?

To me that is not the fault of the US government, that is the fault of the American citizens who fall into those categories of being churched and not helping the fatherless as Scripture says, or the millionaires who cannot help those who fought for their freedom to earn and gain in their personal lives.

I know these topics are uncomfortable, trust me, I feel a sense of guilt myself. But you can fight reality all day, and at the end of the day, reality still wins. ”

Our reality seems to be wrapped up in our need to control, and we make ourselves feel better by calling it “helping.”

As believers, we learn pretty early on in our faith that the more we try to control things the more we screw them up. We believe, as Christians, that God has a plan for our lives.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Y’all, here is a crazy idea, isn’t that what we as feeble-minded humans are saying to our neighbors?

Are we not saying, “hey neighbor without insurance, I have a plan for you. My plan will make you prosper, it will not be to your detriment, and you can have hope in my plan because you will have a better future with it!”

I’ve said millions of times in my own life, “I wish I had known God’s plan for my own life.” Life sure would have been easier at 16 and 17 if I had known the amazing man I would meet and marry one day. No disrespect to previous suitors, of course. The point is, we don’t even know how our own lives are going to go, we have no idea what path the Lord will take us down.

How can we say then to someone else, “I have a plan for you” and promise that it will not harm them, and promise them hope and a future.

We can’t. Or should I say, we shouldn’t?

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to help pass legislation that is in the best interest of our country. We absolutely should. We should absolutely be involved in the legislation process. We should absolutely vote for leaders who will fight for things we believe in.

But at the end of the day, the saying is true, “it takes a village.”

We are only as good as we are united. No one man has the perfect plan. No human at least. That’s God’s job, and trust and believe God is a not member of the United States Senate.

So what do we do? How do we help those around us?

Sister Joan Chittister has a blog that the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company produces called, “From Where I Stand.” [6] Recently she implored readers to become a prayer. Not say a prayer, but to become a prayer.

So what does that look like for us?

I won’t speak for Sister Joan, but I believe a lot of what she meant is that we need to become the hands and feet of Christ to the world around us. We need to become the helping hand that our neighbors are looking for in us. For believers, we need to BE the church, not just attend the church. For Americans, we need to BE Americans and not just fellow citizens. We need to stop sitting around hoping Congress will pass some legislation to help those in need and we need to become the help those folks need.

I have no idea where the fights in the Senate will go on healthcare. I know we haven’t heard the end of it. And honestly, the current policy has a long ways to go, just like the proposals were not the perfect answer, it is not either.

But Americans, maybe we are the answer. Maybe we start helping our neighbors when they can’t help themselves.

The old saying goes, “if you teach a man to fish, he can eat for a lifetime.” Let’s stop just giving handouts as a band-aid to an internal wound. Let’s really find ways, outside of Washington D.C. to heal this country.

Like the poem from the beginning of this blog says, let’s stop trying to fix everything and let’s get in the thick of things with our neighbors and help them find solutions that can better their future and not try to change their future.

[1] https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-invitation-by-oriah-mountain-dreamer

[2] http://www.kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/

[3] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/religious-participation-survey/496940/

[4] http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/

[5] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/24/a-record-number-of-americans-are-now-millionaires-new-study-shows.html

[6] https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/where-i-stand

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