A year ago today, I bought a bottle of moscato d’asti to open in celebration of the election results. Instead, it was opened in sadness when it was clear that there would be no celebration, at least not in my home. I posted the above photo and the following words, not long after:

I have often cared too much about people putting me in the first category and that means I have missed opportunities to be in the second category. I have worried people would question my salvation or my love for Jesus because I think differently than them. No more. I’m not being silent about what is right and important anymore. Social justice matters. Kindness matters. Equality matters. Respect matters. There is so much work to be done.

I hate that it took this for me to really find my voice. Even when I was doing advocacy work for healthcare years ago, I operated from a place of fear that made me hold my tongue far more often than I should have. I hate that I spent so long being so worried about how other Christians would judge me, and that it kept me from being brave enough to follow Jesus and take a stand. Since that day, I think and hope that I really have been a brave woman who has spoken my mind when it mattered. It hasn’t been easy and there has been a cost. I’ve been unfriended, spoken badly of in a very public manner, and muted many times, I am sure. I’ve had too many conflict-induced stress-headaches to count. None of these things are small for me, and doing the right thing in spite of them takes considerable effort. There are times when some things matter more than our personal comfort and this year has been full of those times.

A year ago I was told repeatedly, “Don’t worry, he won’t really do X, Y, or Z.” but he has…or tried to the best of his ability. I’ve been a special needs mom for over a decade and I have NEVER fought for my kids’ lives like I have had to this year. I cannot describe to you what the stress has been like because unless you are in this trench, it cannot be readily understood. The worry has been crushing at times. The apathy of others has been even more painful. I have watched this administration come after those with disabilities, the poor, women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and others, over and over again. It has changed me. I have the contact information for my members of Congress saved in my phone now! I’ve called and emailed and mailed and ResistBotted and gone to the state Capitol and met my US Representative, and urged others to do some of the same things. I have tried my hardest to educate the people around me about issues that are too often poorly understood, but are so important; and I have been educated about issues that I didn’t fully understand or had ignored because they did not affect me directly. I hope that I have done all of this with respect and kindness and all of the things that Jesus calls me towards.

It has been a hard year, but it has not been a wasted year. I am better for this year; stronger, braver, truer, more compassionate, more informed, and more decisive. I have become part of a larger community of amazing women who support and challenge and work alongside me (a group of us are launching a blog, check it out: PoliticalMoms). I’ve learned that the cost of silence and apathy is often too great and that no matter how hard the work might be, it feels better to bravely face it than to look the other way. And so a year later, I say this again, I’m not being silent about what is right and important anymore. Social justice matters. Kindness matters. Equality matters. Respect matters. There is still so much work to be done.