She steps out of the dressing room, deep-blue denim shrink-wrapped to every curve of her bottom.
I wrinkle my nose in disapproval, "Too tight."
"But Mommy! They're the only ones that fit me up here...all the others gap out at the top!"
"No way." I shake my head decisively, "They're painted on your hiney, and your backside is way too curvy to be flaunting it that way. You look like a hooker."
I said it lightly, with a laugh; teasing my too-gorgeous-for-her-own-good 16 year-old.
Not a second later, my heart felt pinched.
Soul-stricken, suddenly thinking of so many little girls,
other mother's daughters,
driven or forced into the very thing I so easily made fun of.
I think of beautiful Reenah, with her engagingly-dimpled smile, and glossy raven hair. She stole our hearts, from the moment we met her at the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. Abandoned so many times, neglected, abused - she is finally safe & secure. But her tender teenage years are marked by a sensuality far beyond her age. Sexually abused as a child, then tossed away and rejected by everyone who should love & protect her, Reenah wears the only identity that earns her the attention she craves.
Then there's innocent Nancy, just 8 years-old, in Tanzania; our Compassion sponsored child. She draws us pictures of elephants and birds, and her childish scrawl writes of feasting on rice & beans at her Auntie's house. What's to keep Nancy from being devoured by poverty-oppressed humanity, from the enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to snatch her innocence and girlhood away?
And I think of Annie in southeast Asia - coerced into sexual slavery. She's only fifteen, dancing erotically to the beat of J.Lo., trapped by the desperate need to pay off the impossibly-growing loan she owes the brothel owner. Investigators with The Exodus Road covertly reach out to her - is she open to rescue? "Help me!" she writes back, horrified with the pain of hoping for release from the grotesque prison of her life.
My soul aches for these little girls, for women. And why not? I can't help but view the world thru the lens of my gender. As a woman, even in this enlightened Western society, without the indwelling strength of Jesus Christ, I will be objectified, minimalized, squashed into the margins of my potential glory. Or perhaps conversely, I'll be dominating, angry, condescending...staunchly wearing the false-identity pants of feminism.
My very genetic make-up, Eve-cursed and grasping for control, fights to keep me imprisoned by fear, performance, insecurity. Only as I learn to breath the inhale and exhale of His name - "Jesus...Jesus..." - can I begin to walk worthy of my calling as a woman.
Only in the presence of Jesus can I find the courage to be who He made me to be.
My little girl huffs dejectedly behind the dressing room door, pulling on another pair of jeans. I press fingertips to my eyes, willing the tears to stay put. How do I explain this heartwrenching grief, amidst the Burlington clearance racks?
I can trade vacations for trips to the Children's Home, pulling Reenah into a hug like the little girl she still is underneath all that mascara and charcoal eyeliner. I can spend days laughing & talking with her, gingerly inching closer, till we can begin the tentative work of discipleship. I can help her navigate the terrifying waters of transition, when she graduates from high school, leaves the cocooning safety of the Children's Home behind, and steps into womanhood.
I can make sure Nancy gets our monthly financial support; only $38 to help provide food & education & the empowering truth of Jesus Christ, thru her weekly visits to the Compassion center near her African home. I can send her letters, brimming with the hope of my heart; "God has great things for you, Nancy! You are filled with the glory of Jesus Himself!"
And I can support the work of The Exodus Road, doing my small part to help free little girls like Annie. Perhaps my words will reach the ears of another who is called to rescue; with monthly financial support for investigative work, or travel to southeast Asia where the battle rages, or spreading the word of such desperate need.
We finally find the perfect pair; trim at the top, curvy to fit her adorable figure, and with an under-$20 price tag that fits my budget. Despite my penny-pinching, I know how opulently wealthy we are in wide-world terms. I'm fully aware of how pampered and protected my little girls are, and I hold them close with trembling and gratitude.
The implanted Word lodges in my heart -
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this; to care for widows and orphans in their time of trouble..."
And I think of innocent Nancy,
enslaved Annie -
other mother's daughters, and each one also -
My little girl.