Poetry

Idols in Your Eyes

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You forget I lived a full life before you met me.
Just because you didn’t see that life doesn’t mean I was just born.
Since you didn’t see me grow up or what I grew up learning
You see me as naïve and young and unknowing.
You think I grew up in the wilderness where no evil could reach
Not surrounded by all this “American” evil.
But little girls still get raped where I come from
And 14 year olds are married off by their mothers to 25 year old men
And 90% of the eighth grade school girls graduate pregnant by their teacher.
African girls are still girls and think sex means love and a secure home.
African boys are still boys with raging hormones and charming words.
Women die in childbirth and children die from drowning.
Men still get drunk and beat their women and violate the weaker ones.
You think I lived a sheltered life because I didn’t live in your society
And go to your schools and attend your churches and shop in your malls.
You think I don’t know how the world works because I didn’t have internet.
Just because I don’t see the world your way doesn’t mean I haven’t seen the world.
Just because I don’t use the words you use doesn’t mean I don’t know their meaning.
Just because I am foreign to you doesn’t mean I am foreign to life.
Just because I didn’t live in America does not mean I don’t know how to live.

You see me as the innocent missionary girl who grew up in the Bible
And who can’t possibly know how bad and sinful people can be.
Since you glorify the missionary, you put me on a righteous pedestal
Praising me for not being like “other girls”
And believing me to be uncontaminated by the world.
But you don’t know the dirty hands that have touched me
Or the roaming eyes that have ravaged me.
You didn’t hear the threats I heard
Or the fearful footprints I left behind.
You see me as the girl who knows the Bible and knows nothing else.
Don’t you know the Bible is full of evil too?

On this pedestal you set up, you expected me to do everything right.
You said humans make mistakes but you didn’t see me as human.
And why would you? You crafted me into your golden image
And you expected me to be perfectly flawless.
The exemplary role model your children could admire and look up to.
Up on that pedestal.
You had expectations for me and advice for me to live by.
And I strived to live up to the idol you envisioned.
I wore the right clothes, smiled politely, stayed quiet and submissive
And knew all the right answers.
I was the perfect person you could manipulate because I was too afraid of letting you down.
I had to be the perfect example.
You needed hope
And you looked up to the obedient statue to give it to you.
So I served and I curtseyed and I pleased.
I said the words you put in my mouth to say
And lost my voice to yours.
Every idea you had of me I fulfilled,
Every thought you told me to think
I did.

Your words were sweet.
Telling me to be who I am and that it was okay to make mistakes.
You told me you have to make mistakes to learn
And to not be afraid.
You told me I could make decisions for myself because that’s what adults do
And I couldn’t remain a child forever.
I had to grow.
But when I chose, when I made decisions, when I spoke my mind
You didn’t like it.
You believed I was falling away from God
Because I was falling away from all the expectations you held for me.
You believed I was a deceived little girl because I didn’t take the path you planned.
I stepped off your pedestal
And you were bewildered without your idol.
I fell away from you because I chose to fall into God.
I stopped listening to your words and I could finally hear His.
I refused to please you and live up to your expectations
Because I was finally pleasing to God and fully accepted by Him.
Something you never gave me but I always strived for.
But I stopped striving.
And I found peace.
Or rather, He gave me peace.
Now you can’t stand to look at me.
Your eyes avert and your words no longer praise.
Maybe you’re jealous of the freedom I’ve found
Because to you love must always be conditional.
You wish me to be as sad as you because to you happiness is a sin.
You can only be happy when you’re miserable.
And you hate that I can be happy without your misery.

You forget I lived a full life before we truly met.
Even though you may have been present
You didn’t see the life that I lived.
Or the life that was pressed upon me.
You don’t see the paths that left their traces in my veins
And you can’t see the scars on my feet.
But more than this
You didn’t see the glorious calming light I saw
Or the clear blue sky singing grace.
You didn’t see the open field full of flowers
with freedom breathing from every petal.
You didn’t see his wide open door inviting me into love
You didn’t hear His truth filling words whispered in that quiet place
And you didn’t feel His assurance and joy in the light flooded air.
This is why I dance to Him and quit marching to you.
Your opinion used to matter to me.
But now
I’m free.

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