Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What I learned

A year ago today was a special election in Virginia for the 45th District House seat. I was one of the candidates in that election.

Often the first question people ask about that experience is, "What did you learn from that?" It's an especially appropriate question during this, another back-to-school week. My answer has become consistent.

I learned how to weep for my city.

In that, I really had only begun. With more time in my first campaign, I knocked on many doors, attended many events, met many people, and heard their stories. No matter the neighborhood, there are a lot of people among us with a lot of needs and a lot of hurt.

I learned that in some cases the system is actively working against them. As we learned last week, for the poor this can be especially damaging. I saw this firsthand with the pages upon pages of detailed paperwork single moms were given for help with the children from public services. It wasn't helpful.

I learned that fear is real and is a formidable factor in politics. Sometimes this comes from uncertainty in the midst of people's own situations. Sometimes this came from hearing my positions, and that was especially humbling. With some I was able to overcome their concerns, and with others I was not. I am grateful for the conversations with both, and for all the support I received.

I become neither a senator nor a delegate, and I am not a candidate today. Most people I met along the way are still wrestling with the challenges they were then, a little further along than they were before.

I learned that candidate or not, elected or not, those who humbly weep for their city before God are the one's building the surest foundation for healing for their people. In whatever I do wherever I am, may God grant me the grace to be more like that.

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