16 December 2010
You Ain't Taking That from Me . . .
A friend told me that Natasha Bedingfield's new song "Strip Me" reminded her of me, so I decided to buy it on my cell phone immediately. I usually like Bedingfield's songs and the 30-second Amazon.com demo sounded great.
As soon as I listened to the full song, I knew I'd uncovered a new theme song for the rest of 2010: Take what you want, steal my pride. Build me up or cut me down to size. Shut me out, but I'll just scream. I'm only one voice in a million, but you ain't taking that from me.
The next time I listened to it at nearly full volume in my car, bobbing my head and throwing my free hand in the air, I was trying to simply jam out. But before I knew what was happening, I burst into tears. As I listened to the words and sang out, I thought of the 14-year-old girls I met in Moshi, Tanzania, through the Compassion International sponsorship program ministry. I thought of Judith, Siwabena, Gladness, Beatrice, the two Jasmines, Margaret and Witness--the girls who after just one afternoon of visiting with them seem to find their way into my thoughts often.
These young ladies live in a place and financial situation that we in the U.S.A. might pity. Because of their state in life, we sometimes talk about children like them and say that we need to be "their voice"--the "voice for the voiceless," we say, to inspire others to care about them and help make a difference (Read my sister Lanecia's blog that talks about this, as well).
But when I met these girls, I was so moved by how smart, strong, confident and compassionate they were. Judith dreams of traveling and visiting Italy one day. Beautiful Gladness sings with great joy and reads incessantly. She is smart and witty and waxes poetic on politics and Black Americans (and she called me a "spinster," but that's a story for another day, I suppose). Beatrice cares for her mother who is HIV+. Witness is HIV+, does well in all of her classes and loves writing her Compassion sponsor. And Margaret wants to be an evangelist. Actually, she is one already, and she preached for us the day we visited their ministry. When I asked about how people felt about women in pastoral leadership, Margaret and Gladness quickly informed me that girls can do anything they want to do if they are "confident in the Lord."
These girls face enormous challenges daily. Some of them have buried too many parents, siblings and friends. If it was not for sponsorship, they might have to go without meals or education or hope for the future. There are a lot of things they do not have. A voice, however, is not on that list. They have powerful voices, and I cannot wait to hear how their voices ring out when given the platform and opportunity to bring their thoughts and hopes and dreams to the world. I think of these girls whenever I hear this song now.
Take what you want, steal my pride. Build me up or cut me down to size . . .
I'm only one voice in a million, but you ain't taking that from me.