I didn’t watch the Amy Coney Barrett hearings—and I’m a better Christian for it.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett speaks during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

This past week, I joined the vast, cranky ranks of the quarantined. I had some Covid-like boggy lung symptoms and spent four days holed up in my bedroom, waiting for my test results. Happily, they came back negative, and I was allowed to crawl out of my cave.

I felt like I passed another test, too: I resisted listening to the Amy Coney Barrett hearings. If you don’t know me, you don’t know how weird that is. I am an intensely political person (that was me at age 14, standing in the slush on a busy street corner, waving a homemade Jack Kemp sign). Even when I do not have a huge, open swath of quarantine time to devote to politics and the news, I love to gorge on current events.

If you knew me, you’d expect me to be all in with the hearings, in particular. How Amy Coney Barrett is received is especially relevant to me as a working, feminist, Catholic mother with a large family. Like Ms. Barrett, I have had “vagina clown car” insults thrown at me by people who profess to believe in reproductive choice. Strangers who know nothing about me have declared I must be either neglecting my kids or shorting my job because no one could possibly be both a good mother and a good worker. I have been informed that, because of my Catholic faith, I want all women to be the legal property of their husbands and the state. Like Ms. Barrett, I have been mercilessly dragged for my clothing choice, even when no sane person could find fault with it. The woman even gets dinged for her crazy eyes, and I, too, have crazy eyes.

How Amy Coney Barrett is received is especially relevant to me as a working, feminist, Catholic mother with a large family.

But I am not unreservedly on team Amy Coney Barrett. I was dismayed when she and her maskless family starred in what turned out to be a superspreader event. I am someone whose life has been transformed by the Affordable Care Act and who desperately needs it not to be deemed unconstitutional. And I have become increasingly alarmed at the spectacle of white adoptive families using their Black children as a shield against accusations of racism. Ms. Barrett herself has not done this, as far as I know, but she does seem to speak freely in public about her Black children’s trauma. And there is that photo where her white family is front and center, and her Black children are arranged as bookends.

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And there it is. There is one of the reasons I have not been following the hearings. If there is one lesson we all should have learned to our very cores by now, it is that the stories and images and memes that get highlighted on social media are almost never the full picture. This lesson surely applies to the personal life of the Barretts. As a Christian, I have no business forming any kind of opinion about some woman’s mothering skills based on a photo, a comment, an out-of-context quote. Maybe she is a great mother; maybe she is a monster; or maybe, like most mothers, she is something in between and does not always achieve the ideal with every decision she makes.

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She is a real person, not a symbol or a character, and to make judgments about something so complex and personal would be rash and unjust. Making these judgments are actual sins, and that means they hurt me, hurt my soul. And it is not popular to say so, but her competence as a mother is not relevant to her competence as a judge.

And this brings us to the second, more urgent reason I chose not to tune in to the confirmation hearings. If she is confirmed, which seems all but inevitable, she will probably make decisions that affect my life. This is a given. She may cast the decisive vote that takes away my health care; she may cast the decisive vote in any number of legal battles that will help or hurt people I care about. I know this. It matters who sits on the Supreme Court.

No matter how ardently I follow the hearings, it will not change any votes. If I lose track of trending hashtags for the day, it is not going to alter the course of events.

But I also know that I cannot affect what happens in any way. In this specific story in the news, I am quite literally powerless. No matter how ardently I follow the hearings, it will not change any votes. If I lose track of trending hashtags for the day, it is not going to alter the course of events. If I read a political joke and think to myself, “I don’t know what that means,” and then, rather than looking it up, I just set down my phone and make myself a little plate of hummus and carrots instead, that is not a loss. That is a victory. That is me acknowledging that the insane carousel of current events is going to keep on turning, and it is O.K. for me to step off from time to time. Make contact with solid ground. Look around me, see what’s going on in my actual life, with the actual people I live with, who actually depend on me and whose actual day-to-day existence never, ever makes it to the headlines.

That is something I can control. That is something, unlike the hearings, I am actually responsible for.

This is the course I am choosing, more and more often. I am stepping back and letting myself take a break from thinking about things I cannot change, especially when incessantly thinking about them is making me crazy.

I am not urging anyone to become less informed. Goodness knows the “low information voter” has served our country ill. But I am trying to consider how well I am serving myself and my family when I ceaselessly gorge on current events. When every speck of news gets catapulted into the headlines and I busily gather them up all day long, is it making me better informed, or is it just making it harder for me to tell what is actually important and what isn’t?

When I am always angry and distraught, it is harder to be a good wife, mother, writer, Christian. The full throttle news life makes me a worse person, and it’s voluntary.

When I am always angry and distraught, it is harder to be a good wife, mother, writer, Christian. The full throttle news life makes me a worse person, and it’s voluntary.

I spent most of my quarantine listening to music, drawing pictures, reading to my kids over FaceTime, framing photos, watching kung fu movies, organizing my belongings and getting caught up on some paperwork. I crept out the back door, wiped the door knob down and planted some bulbs for the spring. I ordered groceries. Nothing world-altering, but neither would it have altered the world if I had hung on every word from every bloviating senator all day long. I think I emerged calmer, more rational and more engaged with my family. You can do this, too. You do not have to be quarantined to make this choice to preserve some part of your private life from public noise. The nation will survive.

We don’t want to be lied to, and we don’t want our country to slip away from us entirely. Vigilance is one of the duties of citizenship. But so is discernment, and sometimes discernment means tuning out, logging off and letting the headlines follow themselves for a while.

[Read this next: I see my own pro-life feminism in Amy Coney Barrett]

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