I've had this stirring for a while. A stirring that I tried to ignore and push to the side. It didn't matter how far I ran--it found me. It found me at dinner conversations with a girl friend and in random Facebook videos that popped up on my newsfeed. It found me in hustle and bustle of crowded spaces and in the silence before I drifted off to sleep. I'm pretty sure the launch date of this project changed half a dozen times. I do not fully have the words to describe what 'this' is or where it is going, but I can no longer ignore it. This stirring has turned into a hurricane, and I'm afraid it might consume me.
Almost a year ago I was sitting in a Chapel service at Candler School of Theology listening to this adorable 3rd grade choir joyfully sing a number of arrangements. We were probably about 15 minutes into the service when I noticed this beautiful young girl seated on the front row of the choir. She was squirmy, clearly uncomfortable. For the next 45 minutes, my eyes were fixed on this little girl. She was probably about 3 feet tall, and she had short brown hair cut into a bob that puffed out a bit. As I watched, I noticed that this little girl was constantly patting down her hair. It became clear that she wanted her hair to lay flat--that somehow this 3rd grade girl had become unsatisfied the way her hair looked. I'm not sure if someone said something to her about it. Maybe it was a new haircut that she wasn't quite use to yet. Either way, my heart broke. This little girl was already feeling the pressure to look a certain way.
I wanted to stop the service--to interrupt the choir. I wanted to walk down to that little girl and take her by the hand and tell her that she is beautiful and smart and special. I wanted to make sure that she knew and understood that she has something to offer the world and that it didn't matter if her hair laid flat or stood up in 101 directions. But instead I sat in my seat and silently listened.
I will never know this little girl's name. I will never know what her family is like or what kinds of things she finds fascinating. I will never know where she ends up in life, but I am so grateful for her. Because she gave me the courage to say to myself all the things I wanted to say to her.
--Amber Lea Gray