“Thumbprints, a defining biometric, prove that every person is as human as the next. They speak to the irreplaceable and unrepeatable nature of a single human life.” –One Million Thumbprints
I’m writing this as I snuggle one of my girls into bed. The puppy is in her crate next to us. We have full tummies. We’re warm. All four of my daughters will go to school tomorrow. No one will question whether they should be there. Or whether I should travel freely to take them.
My life is filled with so much privilege; I can’t wrap my mind around it. From my education to the contents of my refrigerator, I am overwhelmed with what I have been given. And with how quickly I forget the gifts and take them all for granted.
There is a call from my sisters, it echoes in my heart, sometimes louder, that reminds me this is not everyone’s life.
My husband works here in our very community with women who seek refuge from men who claim to love them and yet beat them with their fists and their words. Women who decide they must flee, run away, because they need to shield their children from violence. They seek, AND FIND, refuge at Providence Network. This running from violence is part of my life because “Prov”, as we call it at our house, is part of our self-declared family.
But there are sisters who live in other parts of the world that have nowhere to run when the men hit and rape. Because it is part of the culture of war. They cannot go to the police. There are no safe houses. They cannot protect themselves. And they cannot protect their daughters from sexual violence.
Wartime violence against women is a tool wielded to damage a nation’s soul. And so it happens over and over. Women are the caretakers, the heartbeat. So when they are hurt, violated, torn apart physically and emotionally, the nation is also.
I urge you to read Lynne Hybels’ article “It’s Cheaper to Rape a Woman than Waste a Bullet”. It is the individual stories that that make that heart echo clang again. They turn up the volume and remind me no matter our economic status, race, education level, or religion, our lives are better than some.
Which brings me to the question of ‘What if this was my daughter?’ or What if this was me? What would I want someone else to do? Over and over here in my own circle through Providence Network I hear mothers thank those who make it possible for a safe haven. “Thank you for helping me. Thank you for helping my babies.” And I consider the mother who can’t say those words. Because no one has stepped forward to help her. That echo clangs again, reverberates. But what could I possibly do that would make a difference? Truly?
And I ask God, How does this fit into your master plan? This devastation. And you know what I’m reminded of? Who he says I am.
What?! This isn’t about me. This is about my sisters who have no power, no voice. And he gently brings it back to me.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10
We. Together, are God’s plan. We are his plan to do good things. He has showered us with mercy beyond our understanding, put us in this position of comfort, power really, to carry out his plan. We ladies, are meant to be his chorus of angels, of voices lifted up to the heavens and to our neighbors, saying “We can do better.” Yes, indeed we can.
As I lie in this comfy bed with my girl in Denver, Colorado, my friend Krista is likely standing in her kitchen in Idaho talking to one of her teenagers as she makes tomorrow night’s dinner ahead of time. Krista also knows she lives a life of privilege. She is a homemaker in the purest sense of the word. She makes home for others.
She got a call recently to join this effort to do something on behalf of women in war torn nations. She is climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro. Yes in Africa. With 15 other women and one man. They are doing the climb of a lifetime in order to get the word out, to be our choir leaders in a sense. This is their aim:
“1MT seeks to aid women who’ve been affected by sexual violence in war zones in two specific ways: 1) Advocating the UN and other governing bodies to follow through on resolutions and laws passed to protect women in conflict zones, and 2) Partnering with and building the capacity of proven organizations already on the ground. These programs meet practical needs (food, clothing, shelter, rape kits, and trauma assistance), help stabilize communities (through training in negotiation and peacemaking), and provide sustainable long-term solutions (such as educational development, micro-savings and micro-finance, and refugee resettlement).”
And here is where we come in. We can get the word out and we can donate money to make the work possible and we can pray without ceasing for our sisters who feel they have nowhere to turn for protection. Each climber, as she physically trains for the grueling trek, also has a fundraising goal because work, public policy work, relief work, requires money to make it happen.
So this is what I’ve decided to do. Because I must do something.
I will add my own thumbprint, the signature many use around the world when they cannot write their own name, to the One Million Thumbprints list to tell those who make decisions on the global level that conflict violence against women is not acceptable. Because a thumbprint, regardless of education level or circumstance declares God’s design of each of us. I will use my voice this way.
I will give $10 for every female member of my household. Between me and my girls, that’s $50. I’ll take it a step further, I’ll give $10 for my own mom, a brave single mother who worked to get me raised, her sister also a single mother, and her sister’s daughter, my cousin, also a single mother. That gets me up to $90. And I’ll give one more gift on behalf of my mother-in-law who raised a man who loves me with strength but absent of violence.
I will share this post and tag 10 friends. That costs me nothing, but increases the chance that they too will consider how they can join God in the good works he planned for them. How they can make an offering on behalf of their own mother/daughter/sister.
We can all do something. What might you consider? Join me in giving $10 for every female member of your household to the #1MT climb? To let our sisters know they are not alone? Share this post with 10 friends? To invite other women into the choir? Sign your thumbprint to add to the one million?
Because if not us than who?
I am supporting my friend Krista as she stands up for these women. You can join me and contribute your $10 here. Because our ten dollar donations will add up. We are a choir not a group of solo artists. You can learn more about One Million Thumbprints here and add your virtual ‘thumbprint’ here.