For M

We’ve come such a long way from that first phone call nearly 2 years ago. The call when your words were polite and full of gratitude but your tone screamed of distrust. I didn’t know that you had experienced the pain of having a baby taken from your grasp and that having to willingly let go for a little while scared you just as much. When we dropped the girls back off at the shelter a few days later I wanted to hug you and pray over you and tell you what an amazing job you were doing with them. But you just wanted them back in your arms. And I couldn’t blame you.When we pulled away that afternoon I was certain I would never see you again.

But God….it had to be Him. Forging a friendship out of thin air and crisis. You, who I have nothing in common with besides the title of Mom, I have grown to care so deeply for you. And although your entire life has centered around building walls higher and higher for safety and survival, you have inexplicably left a window cracked. And you let us peak in from time to time. Don’t think for one moment that I don’t know how much that means. We laugh at our differences and how unlikely it was that a bridge would form between our very different worlds.

Yesterday we picked the girls up and I handed you the Safe Families paperwork to sign. It felt so formal. Here is what I wanted to say:

You are not a charity case to us. You are our friend and our sister.

We don’t feel bad for you. We think you are strong and beautiful and brave. You are doing an incredible job with the limited resources you have. It amazes me all the time.

We don’t judge you. We won’t pretend to have any idea what it’s like to walk in your shoes. To have to make the choices that you have made.

We admire you. Over and over again we watch you make something out of nothing for your girls. We admire how sweet and kind and loving they are. We know that’s a reflection of who you are. I know you are always feeling insufficient…how I wish you could view yourself through our eyes!

We love you. Not because you have needed us. Not because we feel obligated to. But because you are family.

This is what the kingdom of heaven is supposed to look like….me with the safety net and support system and all of my privilege, but still so broken. Still in need of a Savior. And you…whose life obstacles crash like waves with no breaks in between, so loved by the same Rescuer who has rescued me. The ground between you and between me sits level because of the cross. And the cross is enough, M. For both of us.

Sex Trafficking, Abuse…and 50 Shades of Grey?

There is something that has been heavy on my heart for quite a while. The last couple of years actually. And when something weighs on me, that is usually when I come over to my little corner of cyberspace and let it all out. But this time has been different because I dislike writing things that cause people to become defensive. I have dear friends who I know outright disagree with my stance on this subject and I don’t wish to come off as unloving or judgmental.  Hear my heart when I say our choices are our own and I respect that. I simply long to offer another perspective.

I need to talk to you about sex, ya’ll. I know…it’s a little awkward. My Mom reads this blog. Haha! But will you bear with me anyway? Let’s just get through it together.

I think we can all look back on America’s history with slavery and acknowledge how wrong it was. But what many don’t know is that even more slavery exists today than it did back then. It is no longer out in the open for everyone to see, but the slavery “industry” is huge. It is estimated that there are 27 million men, women and children who are being exploited for manual and sexual labor in our world today. 27 million. 12 being the average age of a child sold into sex slavery. There is much to learn about the second largest criminal industry in the world. A great starting point is the A21 Campaign.

We collectively cringe and say that this is unacceptable. We cry tears over little girls kidnapped and raped for someone else’s profit. And we should. But let’s take a deeper look and consider that the criminals who are trafficking little girls are simply following the concept of supply and demand.

There is a demand. And we have inadvertently supported that demand. We have bought into allowing sex to be sold as a commodity. It’s a big business. This is why a book that glamorizes sexual and emotional manipulation and abuse like 50 Shades of Grey can get turned into a movie and open on Valentine’s Day…you know…because it’s so romantic and everything. In actuality girls like “Anastasia” don’t end up with a man who magically gives up his compulsion for control because she changed him. They end up in domestic violence shelters. They end up dead. And I’m not buying into the lie that books and movies like that are simply a form of escapism and that the world recognizes it’s not real. An adult store in New York noticed a 30% spike in BDSM related items after the book gained popularity.  A British man was cleared of assault charges after allegedly beating his lover badly as the couple tried to recreate scenes from the book. She screamed and cried but never once told him to stop as he beat her repeatedly because she knew she agreed to her submissive role in the beginning…and apparently, initial consent is total consent. A 31 year-old man accidentally killed his 28 year-old “sex slave” girlfriend after hitting her 123 times.

I’m not saying that books such as these are about human trafficking. But books such as these glamorize a manipulative form of abuse that women are experiencing behind closed doors all over the world. Admit it or not, what we consume we will eventually reflect. When we consume these types of books and movie, we buy sex. We become consumers of this genre and enforce the idea that sex can be sold like a product. And then we are surprised when people sell sex in more sinister ways.

I urge you to put aside the “it’s all in good fun” and “it’s harmless” mindset and consider the connection.

Some great starting points for your own research include: www.a21.org and http://endsexualexploitation.org/fiftyshadesgrey/

NCSE_Graphic_Violence

Until the next blog…be blessed!