On January 21, an estimated half a million pilgrims descended on Washington, DC for the Women’s March on Washington, and nearly 2.5 million more gathered in solidarity across the country and the world. I was one of the ones who went for a walk in Charlotte.

“We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.” (Women’s March Mission)

A quick #WhyIMarch search on any social media platform will fill your screen with more personal motivations. On the day of the marches my news feeds flooded with photos and determined words laced with hope, fear, anger, and everything in between. Since then I’ve read a lot of reactions. I think most people I talk to on a regular basis are supportive of this movement, but I’ve seen plenty of words that aren’t. Centering many of the critiques has been the sentiment that we who marched don’t even know why we were marching. That we’re sore losers or whining about inequalities that don’t exist. If you’re here reading my blog you likely already know that I feel differently. Here’s me using my little corner of the internet to tell you why.

I didn’t march to say #NotMyPresident. I marched because he is. And because young people are watching. Because words are important and every moment we stay silent is a moment we say his words are okay. Y’all we can do so much better than “locker room talk.” Even with the enormous privilege afforded to me by my race, religion, ability, sexual orientation and economic opportunities, I still know what it feels like to be overlooked or unsafe because of my gender. I marched because my body is mine and my identity is more than that.

I didn’t march presuming I was speaking for all women. I marched knowing there were plenty who disagreed with the action or with particular positions behind some marchers’ motivations. I marched to follow the tug of my own spirit.

I didn’t march with blind anger toward the “other” side, or to say that their opinions and their votes did not come from a place of real fear or pain. I marched for love of neighbor and myself. Because I follow a Middle Eastern refugee named Jesus and he didn’t say to only love the neighbors who think or look or love like you. I marched because diversity is the best thing we have going for us.

I didn’t march to yell at people (even if technically there was some coordinated yelling with people). I marched because all I want is for us — all of us — to really hear each other. I marched because I meant it when I painted and carried “build bridges not walls.”

I didn’t march as someone’s daughter or someone’s sister or someone’s significant other. I marched as someone. Swept along by the determined hope that washed over me every time cheers rumbled down the streets, I marched.

If, now that we’ve made some noise, you’re wanting to get to work and looking for a place to start, check out the Women’s March’s 10 Actions for the First 100 Days campaign.

This is a simultaneously exciting and very intimidating time to be almost-clergy. I deeply believe in authenticity, but at the same time know that I’m not called to minister only with people who are like me. How do I do both? I’m privileged in that my immediate personal well-being is not particularly threatened on a daily basis, so maybe my hope for common ground (or at least common decency) is naive. It’s hard being human. But even as I watch in disbelief as news rolls in from Washington, I’m not willing to give up on us just yet.