Five things required in the swamp

Melissa Hart

I feel like I’ve released my oldest son into a pack of wolves. While he went on his own accord and is seemingly fully aware of what he is getting into, I am apprehensive about his new career at the Kirby Center for Hillsdale College in Washington D.C.Let’s face it, “the Swamp” is not an appealing place for anyone who grew up in the rural heartland of America. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for visiting our national monuments and soaking up the rich history of our country, but to live there is a completely different story.While I’ve contemplated his new career, I came up with five requirements to survive the swamp.ResiliencyResiliency to continue to fight for the constitution. To fight for what’s right and declare what is evil. To see that this document, written by simple men of faith, was not just for that time, it’s for now more than ever. To stand up for what it provides for a life worth living in a country whose cornerstone is freedom, you must have resilience at your core. And when you’ve been raised on a farm, resilience is what you know, live and breathe. Otherwise, you don’t survive.DiscernmentDiscernment to knowing what is right and true. To see through the veil of a sweet smile or the spinelessness of the go along to get along crowd. Being able to discern the character of those you meet without judgement or slander is the difference between critical evaluation and unfair stereotyping. Just because people are different doesn’t make them wrong but being able to discern between right and wrong makes all the difference.EmpathyEmpathy is the ability to identify with or understand another's situation or feelings. While this may be a struggle for those who have a discerning spirit, it’s essential for effective communication with those who may not understand your point of view. In a nation filled with people who continue to meander down a dangerous road to socialism or worse, empathy will attract those who have lost a vision for themselves and for our country. And it can open their minds to the God given freedom their soul craves.DisciplineDiscipline to do the right thing, even when you go against the status quo. This is a practice so many have lost along the way of following the crowd. It takes discipline to think about things critically. It takes discipline to put down the screens and devices and allow your mind to wander and develop ideas. And discipline shows up every time we put on the armor of God to protect our mind and hearts from the enemy of our soul.Tough HandsIn a place where slime and dirt are plentiful, you need tough hands to survive. When you meet someone, they know they’ve shaken the hand of someone who has done push-ups in gravel, sifted through manure for gutter chain links or wore calluses into the creases from handling bales of hay on countless hot summer days. When you shake a hand, they should be able to withstand your grip and feel the texture of your skin. Then you will be remembered by your strength and the straightforward eye contact that is essential for those who are trustworthy and mean business.The swamp can change you or you can be the conduit for positive change. I pray my son will be the latter for freedom and justice for all.Melissa is a farmwife, mom and freelance writer residing on a dairy farm in southern Michigan. She is available for speaking engagements by contacting her at Visit her weblog at