Monthly Archives: November 2012

Finding Redemption: Part 3

Exploit Thy Neighbor

In a world of deeply broken hearts we will find hurt and anger welling up against purity. In this, our fragile hearts respond with so many broken messages of identity and worth. In my research I find that men are exploited as well as women. However, the broken and dark heart in us seeks to destroy beauty and sees femininity and innocence of children as a main threat. So, we live in a world where women are paraded around as a meat market, destroying their feminine soul and reducing their spirit to an empty breath in the ear as they give their body again to the broken world from which they are enslaved. What will our role be in eradicating the injustice of the exploitation of humanity?

The truth is, sexual exploitation is at its most obvious when it is in the open as the buying and selling of people, or the stripped down version of the little girl who was raped at age 11 within the walls of a church. It is obvious when it is on stage or on a street corner, or even with the girl in the high school who sells $2 blow jobs under the desk in Biology class. These are facts, and realities, and stories of daughters & sons. This is your story, too (literally, at times), as the church, if you’ll own it. Along with this, it is also the daily messages of the feminine body being worthless and objectified that aids in the wicked deceit that we all belong to no one and also to everyone. That our bodies are to be used to get what we want and need and that our soul is worthless unless we tie it to another person.

With this said, I believe that at the core of my understanding of the sex industry and sexual exploitation as a whole, there is this idea that we as people are worthless. So, to bring real freedom it must be a reality to raise up generations that honor one another, that know and call out beauty because they recognize it in themselves again or for the first time. We need to raise up boys to be men who honor women and openly discuss what they are inevitably exposed to. The reality today is that even hamburger commercials are sexualized. It’s not easy to avoid the messages, but there is freedom in releasing truth over the lies that spill out of our society. Communicating the truth rather than hiding from it will aid in dispelling the lies that plague our sons & daughters. It could put an end to the generational cycles that seem to have no end. Our little girls and boys are pure, holy, and lovely. As are the women and men who strip and prostitute themselves. As are the women & men who seek darkest fantasy to fill a void left by deep wounds. We are all children, and we belong to a Father who loves wholly and exists to love us in full at every part of our story.

The simplest way to be change in this world is to simply love without condition and without self-seeking. To be a neighbor. To love because we are free and to free others with the love that God gives us because we already know that love, joy, and freedom and want to share it with the world.

I truly believe that this simplicity of love (and in this, considering all others as greater) is going to change everything.

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Finding Redemption: Part 2

 

 

Identity Issues

It was the picture of smitten first love. Boy & girl notice each other across campus. They find a chance meeting with a mutual friend. They become inseparable, going on walks, watching movies, sharing stories, and living them out. Boy takes girl to a college formal. They have their first kiss at the beach, which eventually leads to getting caught making out in cars. Typical. They were only 19, and little babies at loving well. What did they know? They both fell into love like an atom bomb, equal parts mesmerizing, beautiful, and destructive. As time went on, there were clear signs that it wasn’t working well, and there were words and actions ill-communicated that cut into hearts so deeply. Words from deep brokenness killed parts of the soul and seemed so true in their hearts because they trusted one another so profoundly and without caution. The risks were great and they would stop at nothing to go together through their wild love, at least for a time.

The killing words spoken into existence settled into the soul and we acted them out perfectly. A perfect poison, as if my beauty was made for destruction and our love was there to condemn and break apart. I learned then that my beauty was destructive, that I was shameful and could not give enough to satisfy what was already broken. Those bitter lies became my cornerstone.

 

Broken Hearts

“I would respect you more if you had denied my advances.” Brokenness, when spoken and acted upon, destroys the purity of the love God intended for us. The messages of our beauty being a stumbling block and our love a distraction bury dying seeds of deadened roots that block out the joy of a life of full-circle love without condition.

After years of trying, the break-up was inevitable. However, still blind-sided and shattered. “We never really loved one another.” Words cut into the soul like an irretrievable and silent whisp buried in a heart that shut down access to joy and full-life. I didn’t want God to even touch this. I didn’t trust a soul with my love and vowed without my full realization to never be vulnerable and to hide my beauty.

It was years before I would allow God access to heal it. It was a 4-year, slow walk into the dark soul before I fell flat on my back in the sludge of my undoing.

Why do I share this story? It’s only just a part of the unraveling of the feminine heart. It’s a story in the midst of lies already embedded. There were lies before this and after. Because sometimes we choose to open our hearts wide in wild abandon to the wrong things. It is not just my story, it is a story many know and it is at the root of oppression and exploitation. Not being known, not knowing who you are. Identity issues. Heart issues.

 

The Light of the Broken

Our resistance to truly knowing the broken people is a deep irony of life. It is in our arrogance that we assume the roles of hierarchy that separate us from receiving a deeper love and even greater presence of God. It is in those seemingly dark places, the places where the “unworthy” reside, that I have found Jesus more clearly than any church pew. It is there, in the strip bars and brothels, that I find myself brought down low at the feet of Jesus, not worthy to tie up these women’s shoes. Why? Because there in the obvious mess of a life not knowing the depth of God’s love for you, I recognize that in my knowledge of God I missed a whole lot of His heart. My brokenness and my mess, while appearing better but hidden and tidy, is worse because I claim things that I now must learn to live out in ways that are completely uncharted, broken, and messy. Places we avoid for fear of looking foolish, stupid, judgemental, and uptight. Let me tell you, you are probably those things, and that’s part of what will be refined. That’s the heart of meeting people where they are at in their story, to say, YOU are worthy of being truly known. Not everyone should go to strip bars to find this, and most of you shouldn’t. But think of the messiness of your own life, and those around you. Who can you sit with, smile at, share coffee with? Who can you call worthy of knowing today?

 

Who can you KNOW? Because ultimately, this issue (of trafficking, of lonely, of homeless, of fear), I believe, is of others not being known or of having a misplaced identity. I promise, this will change your life and you will never be ready for the transformation that will eventually come. It’s all the more reason to jump into the mess of the lonely, broken, and hurting and together fight for freedom! What you think is dark harbors light, what you think is light is often mirrors deflecting the light of the broken to shield the fearful from the life of freedom that comes with admitting and breaking free from the brokenness we hold onto like a savior.

 

Pimp Child

Brokenness tends to find a loophole where our sudden and seeming joy can dissipate in the shock of emptiness that follows the instant gratification of our lonely hearts. There are many reasons that we, as people, exploit beauty and empty our souls into things that don’t fulfill but in the end, it’s our choices that define what the future of freedom will be. Do we choose to open our hearts again, but to something holy that cleanses? Are we calling that out in one another? We often grasp onto things that are not ours to hold and empty our souls into darkness and lose ourselves in the process. We are the lost. When is the last time you walked into a church and knew we had it all together? Why are you still looking for God in a church building?

The light in the eyes of the women and men that are called names: pimp, evil, whore, slut, exploiter. In the process toward becoming like a child I see it, because children understand children best. The light in their eyes is still there, as a glimmer I often see of the child inside of them called names: worthless, stupid, alone, dirty, unwanted. Broken hearts cry out, and God is near to them. NEW, NEW, NEW! Clean, worthy, joyful, hope-filled! God spends His time there with them. With us, in our brokenness, too, God fights for us. If you go there, to the broken and messy places and people, you will feel God. You go to church to feel His presence, but feel nothing? Go be a neighbor to other broken people, as your messy self, and experience God more fully than you have. Often you see, you’re not actually the one bringing the light, you’re the one more fully experiencing stepping into God’s presence in a seemingly dark place. Because God resides with His children, providing light when theirs has gone out. If you’re looking for God, find Him there.

 

Coming soon: Part 3; To be continued…

Finding Redemption: Part 1

You would have thought I was committing a crime the way I wandered into the store late last night. Of all the hours to be awake and all the places to go grocery shopping. I wandered the aisles in my winter coat and sweatpants, as if to raise a middle finger to the superstore I always avoid and to the brokenness I’ve seen through the exploitation of souls so pure and feminine. This place is a far cry from the dusty roads and painful stories of sweet cherub faces I’ve greeted over the last two weeks. My mind boggled and spun as the stories relapsed in my mind.

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A Revelation of Beauty & Exploit

The last month of research has been a reminder of the brokenness in the world but mostly of a God who loves and longs to fully redeem. It pricked at my own heart in a personal way as God pulled out wounds I thought were long healed. Because of this, I feel connected to the stories I’ve heard in a way that only my God can bring about. He has not had a lack of imagination when revealing His stunning beauty to me as He pursues with the fullness of His love, so evident in every whisper to my heart.

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It is heavy to carry any of this knowledge of a broken world that exploits purity, honor, and beauty in exchange for self-indulgence at the expense of life. I would think, that the knowledge of it would shut the heart down for good.; that the knowledge of the oppression of the feminine and the innocent would cut my heart off for good. However, it’s been a process of getting closer to the opposite. Getting closer to victory in the relentless pursuit of the restoration of the innocent heart, and seeing that hope too in the horrors that are reality today across the globe.

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It is difficult, I have found, to not respond to the sexual exploitation of people a number of common ways: anger and hopelessness, overwhelm leading to apathy, shutting down completely. However, as I study the work others are doing in the fight against the death of innocence, I find myself more alive in the knowledge of true hope and victory.

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Her Story – My Story – Ours

The thoughts pound around in my heart. The things I’ve avoided for so many years because I’m afraid to release. My own tale of relational oppression, the one that I let run rampant in my heart for far too many years after its release, the words that come out of my bloody heart in the midst of my darker days. The part of my past that bleeds into the stories I heart of the exploited heart. Why does this come up when surrounded by horrors beyond fathoming. Yet, today, the “not enough” spoken over me in the past (while seemingly ages away from the horrors I hear from the hearts of dear innocents) is revealed as a root of so many pains scrubbed into the existence of men who buy and women who sell. This message of unworthiness & deep wounded brokenness now keep me moving toward freedom for people whose stories of horror and survival run so much deeper in the veins and bloodstream than mine ever has.

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Cracked Marble Hearts

It seems so recent, that darkest time two years ago now, realizing my heart was worn down and marble cold and unbreakable, I’d made sure of that. I had decided years before that I would hide certain things from God and that I would go it alone. The letter I wrote to God in my desperation that day was the tip of an iceberg that could melt for no one but eventually Him. One of the main things I vowed in my heart to withhold was relationship, of any kind. I was shut down and stone cold, reeking of hardened independence from wounds I dared not speak of for fear that they would become real again.

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On the outside, it seemed like I had it together, and I thought I was fine on my own. The marble shell I’d placed around my heart was keeping out most of the pain, and also everything else good that can come with fully grieved hurts. However, I was still wounded at the core and that pain still bled out every so often.

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The Invitation

“I cannot possibly be dealing with this still.” I would think as I shoved the wounded thoughts back down. I can’t possibly be hurting from something lost nearly 6 full years ago. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction and didn’t want to give God what He had been asking for so long. “Until you can accept only my love you won’t be able to fully receive love from others…” It wasn’t a threat, it was simply an invitation to wholeness. I didn’t know what to do with it, because intimacy seemed too vulnerable. God would lead me there and then leave me.

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I didn’t want to admit it, but I was so lost. Here I was, a child of God, holy and set apart, and I was undone.

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To be continued…