I Have Such Hope for Girls


Idelette McVicker -Such Hope for Girls3

I have deep Hope for Girls.

I know I stand on the shoulders of every woman who has gone before me and has made a way for me. I know I have not come to this moment in history—this freedom to move and vote and do business and write and lead and preach—on my own. Generations of women have brought us to this moment.

There are women who have made history. There are also women whose lives were not written in history books, but who walked the road, faithfully, making a Way for us to follow.

My mother is a woman who won’t be written up in big history books and yet she paved the way for me. Many years before I was born, she left her very small town, her family and the farming community she grew up in to go study at a teacher’s college about 10 hours away from home.

While she never talked about the barriers she broke, I understand, now, that she paved a way for me.

There are women who have sacrificed greatly. I know there are women who have laid down their own hearts’ desires and maybe even brought their disappointments, to kneel down and plead for a different future, praying us into freedom, empowerment and now. We are part of a web of relationships, intricately and steadily woven.

I am so grateful to have been born at this time in history. I am deeply saddened by the wave of racism and fear spreading across the globe. And yet, I now have a voice that can speak to injustices, call out privilege and prejudice and do my best to walk in Love. History is not against me. History shows that it bends towards justice and that’s the side where I want to be found. We get to shape the story as it unfolds from here.

I am grateful for the women—the sea of sisterhood that stretches behind me.

But today, I am particularly mindful of the future. I am imagining the women who will follow in our footsteps. I am dreaming of the girls who will run the world. I am praying for the girls who will walk hand in hand with humanity to weave a different world.

The women and girls who are following in our footsteps are watching us. I am also watching them. I am praying. I am begging for wisdom to be a faithful guide. I hope to pass down some of the lessons we have learned along the way.

I recently watched our eldest—my waymaking girl—rise up after some devastating news. Her hopes had been crushed and we sat with the tears. I was not expecting to have a Rising Strong conversation with her on that Tuesday night, but we all know that life is not all open doors and elevators. Life is filled with disappointments. Life is filled with doors that slam in our faces.

And yet … How we rise, is how we face the future.

I told Scott how two of the most devastating disappointments in my life, also made way for some of the biggest growth in my life. My disappointments opened up my world.

There was the time I didn’t get into the netball team in Grade 9. I was so deeply disappointed. The school had decided to create a new division for our age group and that whole year felt like one big timeout. But I remember one thing distinctly: how our coach sat us down and asked us what our goals were for netball. My dream was to play for the school’s first team. It was the first time I ever articulated it. I remember how audacious it felt saying it out loud, but also how determination grew within me. I was as far away from a position on the first team as I could imagine that year and yet, putting up my hand and stating my hope, my goal, my dream, taught me the power of intention. Two years later I did play on my school’s first team.

I learned about grit that year.

When I want to protect my kids from disappointments, I remember how the deepest disappointments forge resolve.

My other big disappointment was when I didn’t get into the journalism school at Stellenbosch University. My life had been geared towards getting into this program. But that door slammed shut in my face.

When that happened, I realized that my dream wasn’t connected to that particular program, but to journalism.

I asked myself: If I could do anything, go anywhere, what would I want to do? Where do I want to study?

Suddenly I realized I had an even bigger dream and a whole new world opened up. The dream I hadn’t even been audacious enough to articulate was to go to Rhodes University. It had one of the best journalism schools in South Africa and, until that moment, I couldn’t even imagine stepping through the doors.

Going there meant crossing a number of thresholds:

Moving far away from home: Stellenbosch University was a 20-minute drive from my home town. Rhodes University was an eight-hour drive.

Breaking with tradition: Both my dad and my brother went to Stellenbosch University. I would be the first to expand our family’s boundaries and go somewhere else.

Moving away from Afrikaans culture: Rhodes University was an English-medium school. I would be crossing some major cultural and language boundaries by moving away.

There were so many barriers. And yet … I knew this was the bigger dream.

I remember sitting my parents down and telling them my idea, my hope, my dream.

They said, “No way.”

I said, “I am going anyway.” Somehow, I just knew that this was what I was meant to do.

A few weeks later, they called and said, “We will support your decision.”

That move opened up my world and changed the trajectory of my life.

Even though I had a degree in English Literature, that was the year I became fluent in English.
That was the year I voted in the first democratic elections in South Africa.
That was the year I decided to move to Taiwan.

One closed door meant I lifted up my heart and found a much bigger dream.
One closed door opened up a gateway into the rest of my life.

When I watched my 13-year-old process through one of the biggest disappointments of her life, I remembered my own disappointments again and how they had opened up my world. When I watched my daughter connect with her friends during the pain, sharing the news, trying to make sense of it, I also understood that she had a very different toolbox to draw on.

She named her feelings. Every one of them. We grabbed the Kleenex and she cried and allowed the waves of emotion to move through her.

I watched her process through her feelings in healthy ways. I watched her rise and face a new day head on.

My mother heart would have wanted to protect her from the disappointment. But I watched her grow and become stronger.

I felt so proud of my daughter. Watching her, I couldn’t help but be filled with such hope for the future. How she rose through her disappointment spoke to me of the girls who are rising right now.

There is a generation of young girls rising into their destiny at the moment. They have so many tools available to them. They get to stand on our shoulders and on the shoulders of the women who have gone before us. There are many paths and doors open to them.

Yes, I also hear about a meanness that is shaking me in my boots. Our girls will face some of the biggest obstacles and disappointments and challenges.

And yet …

When I want to be filled with dread, I remember, there is so much Hope.

The questions of their time will compel this generation of girls to their greatness.
These challenges will dare our girls to rise.
There will be special Grace for their particular difficulties.

We have a responsibility to call the next generation to a generous and kind sisterhood.
We have a responsibility to walk with our young women to show them God’s heart for justice.
We can show them how one closed door may open up their world.

There is so much possibility. There is so much talent. There is so much opportunity.

The Malalas of our world are rising.
There are new Oprahs to come.
There are new Beyonces to write new songs.
There are more Melinda Gates to stand up.
New Brene Browns. New Aung San Suu Kyis. New Sarah Besseys.

May we love them, may we guide them and may we show them how to rise and love and serve their generation beautifully.