There are a few TED talks about what we tell our daughters, something I think about all the time these days. I am grateful to not be the only one asking these questions that I don’t have answers to.
In the year you born, I cried for so many things out of my control. I cried for Mosby court and Creighton, for John Marshall High School, and for the gun violence that has taken too many lives under 18 years old right in our backyard. And I wonder: how were we born here, and others there?
In the year you were born, I saw my president mock a disabled journalist. I heard him boast of sexual assault, call Mexicans rapists, and encourage violence among his followers. And I thought: how I can keep you from hearing the things the leader of our country says?
In the year you were born, I saw people take to the streets, waving Nazi flags, shouting of their white colored pride. They wore no hoods, for they didn’t need to hide. They were safe here in whatever this America was.
In the year you were born, I saw refugees denied sanctuary and the tombstones of our Jewish brothers and sisters vandalized. I witnessed truth eroding like a landslide. And I saw my God used like a payday loan— get your money quick, but sell your soul to the devil.
And you, my girl, were born in a flash. A minute so quick the doctor wasn’t even there to catch you. You couldn’t wait to get here. And I needed you. We needed you. And your friends too. Here you were, dust and fire, wrapped in skin, breathing against my chest. A tiny miracle of life that seemed so impossible in the face of so much darkness. How could it be? Your small breath made me breathe again too.
I did nothing to deserve this, I did nothing to earn this. But I’m not taking it lightly. These are dire times, my girl.
At a white pride rally last weekend, a young man drove his car into a crowded street of counter-protesters. Killing one woman, sending another twenty to the hospital. When they interviewed his mom, she claimed she knew he was going to a rally of some sort, but since it was about politics, they didn’t talk about it.
We’re talking about it, my girl. In the year you were born, we decided that choosing to discuss politics is no longer a privilege. Lives are at stake. Livelihoods are at stake. The right to the pursuit of happiness is at stake when you’re afraid to eat skittles, or play with a toy gun, or get stopped for a speeding ticket, or get bowed over by a car of an angry and radicalized white man.
We’re talking about it because I want you to be — alongside of Jesus— a defender of the fatherless and the widow. To come to the aid of the prisoner and the refugee. To side with the marginalized before you side with people who look like yourself. Because, my girl, you have been born to privilege. And you to need to use it.
Use it all, my girl. Use it for the sake of others. Use it so others can also climb the gently inclined hills instead of wading through the raging rivers.
God said that the seed of Eve would crush the head of the serpent under his heel. And as I hold you, I pray for what you will crush under your heel. I pray it is injustice. It is sexism and racism and violence. I pray you will carry out the long line of work that has gone before you. I pray that you will follow the humble, upside-down kingdom of Christ, where the first is last and the last is first. That you will see the Jesus I see, weeping with those who weep,comforting those who mourn, bringing justice to the afflicted, and refuge to the scared.
These are the things that I will tell you of the year you were born: you were born at the perfect moment. I sometimes regret it all, want to apologize to you and say we made a mistake; its all too terrible here. But the Lord knew. He shows himself to me through you everyday. He knew I needed your light and your life and your breath.
So keep breathing fire, my girl.