Love. Period.

This post has been six months coming. I have wanted to start a blog for some time now, but have had trouble deciding exactly what I want to say or even how to write my thoughts. First of all, let me say that this blog serves several purposes; desire to share my heart, relieve stress, and offer political commentary. I’ll try to keep the latter to a minimum, but my passion for political science (especially in light of the 2016 Presidential Election) is often hard to keep at bay.

As the second month of 2016 is already upon us, I can’t help but continue to reflect back on 2015 while also looking forward to the future. 2015 was a landmark year for me personally. I changed drastically last year. My relationship with Christ took on a new, more mature form. I developed a new political ideology that is solely based on my opinions, rather than my family’s or friend’s or anyone else’s. I rebuilt friendships with people I had pushed away at the beginning of high school. I honestly became the person that I have always wanted to be.

34 days have passed in 2016 thus far. In that time I have finished applying to college, started a new workout plan, purchased tickets to see two of my favorite artists in concert (Ben Rector and Halsey), and scored dates to the last two dances of my high school career. As I look ahead in 2016, I am even more excited. This is the year I choose a college, graduate from high school, road trip with one of my best friends, cast my first vote in a Presidential election, and achieve my dream of traveling to Africa for public service. I absolutely cannot wait for everything my future holds.

With all of that being said, I also await these coming months with a challenged spirit. Even though 2015 brought many new opportunities and helped me become the person I have always wanted to be, it was also one of the most difficult years of my life. Why? Love.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am all about sensationalism. I love romantic comedies, cheesy TV shows, and predictable teen novels. But 2015 challenged me with a different kind of love. An accepting love that loves everyone–yes, everyone–regardless of their political opinions, how they spend their free time, their passions, etc. As I was talking with one of my friends the other day, I summed up what I learned in 2015 in one sentence, and I think it describes my new outlook on life perfectly: “Love people. Period.”

When you think about it, there really is no need to add anything else to that sentence. Just love people. Far too often people want to add a “but” to that. “Love people, BUT only if they agree with your political ideology.” “Love people, BUT only if they align perfectly with your religious thought.” “Love people, BUT only if they aren’t different.” NO. This is wrong. Love people. Period.

My life changed drastically last year, and it’s about to change even more this year. As I try to prepare myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually for all of the goodbyes I’m going to have to say and the change I will endure, I’m thankful that I made the conscious effort last year to start loving people more. It doesn’t matter if people are different from you… In fact, if they are, that’s even better! You now have an opportunity to learn from them; to understand and experience their culture, ideology, and core beliefs. Take the opportunity to get to know those around you. Take the opportunity to love them.

There are only 332 days left in 2016. I challenge you to fill them up by loving others. Period.

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