The other day, my eldest daughter asked if I could print off a picture of Malala Youzafzai for her to take to school. She wanted to do her grade two class presentation about the sixteen-year-old Pakistani educational activist who was shot by the Taliban. We had had a few conversations about Malala last week. I was watching an interview online and she kept asking me questions so finally I pulled up a chair, started the video over again and said, “see for yourself.”
I had no idea she was paying much attention: sometimes, you just talk, you know? We did spelling homework, she rolled her eyes when I told her to clean up her room before bed, same old night. But she was listening and a few days later, she marched into her little classroom and told them all about Malala for her presentation, instead of Justin Bieber, and my heart nearly burst with pride. She got it.
Last night after supper, I was madly running out the door to go to Sweating for Sisterhood when I made the spur of the moment decision to invite her along. It was a school night, she’d have to stay up an hour later than usual, but what the hell? Get your runners, kid, we’re going out.
My friends, Megan and Chervelle, planned the fundraiser circuit workout at a local church, complete with prizes to benefit the amazing program Keep a Girl in School in Gulu, Uganda. Basically, girls in Gulu drop out of school because they don’t have sanitary napkins (seriously. Pads. They need pads to stay in school. Unreal. It kind of makes me angry). So then they fall prey to teenage pregnancy, early marriage, poverty, and worse. Megan and Chervelle joined up with the women in our community to support one school of girls in Uganda.
On our way there, my daughter and I began to talk about the night ahead.
That was the moment when I realised I should have thought this through a bit better: we had to discuss what having your period actually means before I could explain why Keep a Girl in School matters.
So THAT was fun. And not at all awkward or unplanned. (We both survived.)
We had so much fun. She’s just the best little kid. A lot of the SheLoves and Mercy Canada community showed up so it was nice to see everyone and catch up for a moment. My sweet girl completely dominated the circuits: she lunged, she squatted, she punched the air, skipped, did push-ups, with tremendous enthusiasm (while I heaved and sweated my way through all of it.) She’s an athlete, man. She ate a cake pop while she was doing her stretches, bites between reps.
Anne loved being with “The Ladies” at church and earnestly paid attention to the info video. She proclaimed herself one of the SheLovelies. She came home with a little key necklace and proudly informed her father that it meant she was “the key to someone’s freedom.” Well, then.
Annie is at that age when she simply longs to be with us: it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, as long as we’re together. Like most kids, her little love language is absolutely “quality time” and she doesn’t care if that means talking about menstruation and social justice with her mum while driving on the Fraser Highway to a little workout night at a Pentecostal church for a schoolroom of African girls that she likely won’t ever meet in her lifetime.
I want to raise tinies who rest in their God-breathed worth, who walk in the fullness and wholeness that comes from living loved. I don’t care much about the Romans Road or star charts or behaviour modification techniques. I want to raise tinies who walk humbly and do justly. I want to raise them to know and understand the importance of family and community. I want them to see, know, and honour the men and women who have walked ahead of us on The Way.
And so that translates into a lot of “come along and see for yourself.”
Come along, sweetheart, come along and see for yourself.
Come along while I pray, while I write, while I read, while I visit friends, while I minister, while I cook, while I do laundry, while I learn, while I worship, while I go to church, while I preach, while I advocate, while I clean this house, while I rest, even while I do an undignified circuit work out in the multi-purpose room at Church for girls in Uganda.
Come along and see for yourself what I think it looks like to be a disciple of our Jesus. I’m figuring it out as I go along, come figure it out with me. It will look different for you, of course, but a little child shall lead them.
I believe that the Gospel is usually caught, not just taught. For every earnest conversation, there are a hundred more unscripted moments: the rides in the van, the talks at the supper table, the nights at church, the invitation to come along and see for yourself. Maybe this isn’t the most important moment but all those small moments have a habit of adding up and creating a small outpost for the kingdom of God.
However imperfect, however incomplete, come along, dear one, and see for yourself.
P.S. You can still donate to the Keep a Girl in School project right here….
photos courtesy of SheLoves.