You might not be a FOX News or CNN junkie, but you’ve undoubtedly heard Election Day is just over the horizon on Nov. 6. My parents always taught us children the value of voting. To avoid the ballot box is to avoid a privilege many people around the world simply don’t have.
Yet like the philosopher-educator Chidi of TV’s “The Good Place,” we often wrestle with indecision to the point of being paralyzed with fear. We wonder whether participating in our representative democracy is even worth it.
Let me assure you: It is. The same can be said for any big decision, including those involving building your family or pursuing embryo adoption. In fact, there are plenty of parallels, as different as these major choices are.
In the spirit of this important national occasion, here are five of them.
Embryo adoption and elections both require you to care about people. If you couldn’t care less what happens to future generations of Americans, don’t adopt. Also, don’t vote. But if you believe God places people in the right time and right place for specific purposes, as I do, you might want to take action. Consider how to leave the world in better shape than you found it.
Embryo adoption and elections both require long-term vision. Most people who’ve adopted a baby (I’m generalizing on a strong hunch that this is correct) don’t wake up one day and jump headlong into their family building decision. They mull over their options for months if not years at a time, carefully consider the best path to tread and move forward purposefully yet gradually. I hope the same is true of your voting decisions. You make careful choices because you understand elected officials aren’t like the ever-changing Starbucks menu. You don’t get a redo for years at a time unless someone makes a major boo-boo. Which reminds me that federal law would read waaaaay differently if parents of toddlers were responsible for writing it.
Embryo adoption and elections aren’t entirely in your control. In fact, they are largely outside of your control. You’ll excuse the evangelist in me when I say that God in His providence has a tremendously important role to play. It’s popular today to mock politicians who offer their prayers after a tragedy. That, in itself, is tragic. If we’re laughing, it might as well be nervous laughter over our callousness and inability to quash our egos long enough to appeal to a higher power. No, you can’t measure providence or prayer in a laboratory or quantify it on a bathroom scale. But I beg you to show me another path that more clearly frees the mind of worry or more plainly offers strength in times of heartbreak. As I Peter 5:6-7 reminds us: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (ESV)
Embryo adoption and elections both bring pain and introspection. There is nothing comfortable about embryo adoption. Oh, it brings pure joy at times. But for families placing their babies for adoption, the weight of the decision is often exhausting and tearful. For adopting couples, there will be worry about whether an adopted child will understand his or her background and recognize the love that led them into their adoptive family. Elections, meanwhile, are a bloody sporting match with a handful of winners and many losers. Hurt feelings breed contempt, which leads to ugly social media commentary and fence-building. Pain is a part of the human experience, but we get to choose whether it lasts.
Embryo adoption and elections both point us toward a brighter future. Babies bring so many promises: early morning snuggles, sweet giggles, nighttime story sessions. No matter their race, gender, socioeconomic status or abilities, children infuse our world with hope. Elections do so to a lesser degree, bringing the guarantee of change, even if that change does not conform to our ideal vision of what the world should be.
Children and elections alike push us to act—in part out of self-interest, but in greater part out of the interest of those around us.
This Election Day, I will vote because it is my right and privilege. I will vote because my parents taught me to do so and because I understand how sacred it is in the halls of a world where authoritarians and dictators have too often crushed the hopes and dreams of my brothers and sisters by snuffing out the ballot box.
But before all of that, I will say a prayer for our children, embryo babies and all. If faith with love can move mountains, now is the time to show it.