Dear Sweet Girl, For You, Justice Looks Like Healing


Dear Sweet Girl,

Hear me. As I hold your freckled face between the palms of my hands, I believe you. You are wearing the navy blue shoes your dad bought for you last year. Before. Before everything changed. Before your wrists were pressed into the cold white sheets that December afternoon. Before you looked outside the window to your right and watched the snow fall as your innocence left between your thighs.

Here you are now with your patent leather navy blue shoes. Your only good shoes. Your church shoes. You had a choir concert at the large theater downtown. You needed new shoes, so that is what he bought for you. You had tried out for a solo, but we all knew your anxiety would get the best of you. But you tried. You put yourself out there. You tasted brave. That past summer your parents let you choose whether you wanted to stay at your school or move to the new public school you’d just moved close to. A new house. A new neighborhood. A new school. Away from everyone and everything you’d ever known. Perhaps harder for a 14-year-old than the adults around you realized.

Now it’s just you and me. Holding your face, so our eyes can meet on the third floor of this county courtroom. You have never felt more alone or exposed and wanting to disappear. I hear you. I see you. You told the truth. He touched you. He took what was not his. He bragged to the boys at the new school. He taunted and pointed and called you names you wrapped around yourself and carried for years to come. You sat on that stand and were torn apart by strangers his daddy could afford as you watched your parents hang their heads. Telling the truth had brought shame. A division that perhaps will never be repaired. Healed.

Sweet Girl, this is all too much for you to carry alone. Look me in the eyes. I know today feels like your forever. You are going to walk through these next years grasping to feel the touch of love you lost that day. The approval. For someone to believe you are enough. You will do what you have to do to survive. But hear me, it is YOUR RISING. The ugly. The emptiness. The broken. The numbing. The searching. Because of you, generations will change.

You will love. You will be loved. You will birth the most amazing children. Your body will carry these souls into the world and you will scream their existence with each push. You will choose life for yourself, time and time again. Others will want to remind you of this day. They need you to carry this shame around your neck to feel better about staying silent.

I want you to know how strong you are, and will be.

You will walk away from men who beat you. Men who used you. Men who silenced you. You will turn away from women who talk about you. Women who shame you. Women who make fun of you. You will rise. You will become the person you needed all along.

You will make sure your daughters know how strong and smart they are. You will bring a son into the world who is kind and gentle and adores you. You will travel thousands of miles to bring another child home who understands the pain you hold already. You will finish college after you are asked to leave for carrying a child to full term. You will finish your schooling all while taking care of 12 children you were never asked to carry. You will love them fiercely.

Loyalty is who you are. You know what it is like to not have a voice. To not be heard. To not be seen. You, Sweet Girl, will spend your life making sure those around you and all over the world are valued and seen. You will see the face of God in every person you meet. You will know grief so unbearable that all you can do is cry for the womanhood of God to hold you. You will learn that your words are your gift to the world. Your story did not end that cold December day, but was just beginning.

You will become the advocate you needed. You will become the strength you are aching for. The most liberating thing you will ever do, is understand that justice looks like healing. This my sweet girl is who you will become. So, just hold on.