A Time of Mourning
Life is a strange and complex thing, isn’t it?
It is a confusing thing to joyfully celebrate the achievement of graduating from college with a degree specializing in Human Services in May, and then to — just one month later — be filled with grief visiting a dying friend, alumni from Created , in the hospital to say my goodbyes to her in this world.
I must confess, I spent most of last night in tears of mourning and despair, overwhelmed by the hopelessness I sense all around me. I mourn over how unfair life is.
I find myself mourning over another woman, who I recently befriended in jail and now have the privilege of mentoring once a week. She's recovering from the effects of both drugs and the sex industry, and I found her in a state of despair and fear.
She was close to relapsing and going back to what she knew was familiar, because the memories of trauma that she had suppressed for her entire life were beginning to bubble to the surface. She told me her body was betraying her desire to process and heal, and that she was so possessed by these memories she was ill, throwing up every day. As we talked, I encouraged her to read to me an assignment I had her do, where I asked her to write down what her life could like in the next 10 years if she stuck with the healing process and did not give up. With sobs she began to describe that in 10 years she could envision herself for the first time not disconnected from her smile. For the first time free from her shame. For the first time in close relationship with God, and given a new chance at life — one that brought her to rescue other women out of the lifestyle she was in. In 10 years, she envisioned herself surrounded by children and grandchildren that loved her, leaving a legacy of love and honor.
As she read these dreams to me I mourned, because I know too many people who have these same dreams (myself included) who were handed this life so easily we became — though perhaps well intentioned — entitled. Entitled to these dreams, knowing that the likelihood of achieving these dreams was incredibly high. When we talked of marriage, graduating, careers, traveling, children, we talked of it as “when" not “if”.
Most of the women I work with talk of these dreams as "if”, and this feels so unfair.
In the words of a rather harsh statement written by an author Andrea Dworkin, “If you have been in prostitution, you do not have tomorrow in your mind, because tomorrow is a very long time away. You cannot assume that you will live from minute to minute. You cannot and you do not. If you do, then you are stupid, and to be stupid in the world of prostitution is to be hurt, is to be dead. No woman who is prostituted can afford to be that stupid, such that she would actually believe that tomorrow will come.”
This thought alone causes everything within my heart to grieve, lament, and cry out to God for justice! We must weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn. I know that Jesus is the answer, and I know that we can rest in Him alone — but today I grieve with those who know no rest and no love.
Our Created staff willingly stand in solidarity with the women we serve by allowing ourselves to encounter second-hand trauma, knowing that we cannot give all we have to the traumitized if we don’t open ourselves to their trauma. While this is hard, we count ourselves blessed and honored to live life with these strong beautiful women.
While attending a training for Created in Atlanta I had the opportunity to visit the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr. once pastored, and it was breathtaking. It was a deeply moving and spiritual experience for me to sit in the pews of this church of a community of radicals that prophetically fought for equality and peace. The timing with the tragedy and injustice happening in the Dominican to countless Haitians made this experience even more overwhelming, and then this experience was compounded again hearing about the 9 Christians worshiping in church, only to have their lives stolen in a brutal attack, dying because of the color of their skin.
This experience was paired with attending an educational training on complex trauma, meeting face-to-face with the scars and wounds that childhood abuse and the sex-industry leave on women.
In the midst of so much evil, despair, and hopelessness, where can we turn?
In a world consumed with the evil of racism that causes never-ending pain in the deepest of places to the ones God loves, created, and formed, where can we turn?
In a planet where our children are tortured, raped, and sold every moment of the day to fulfill the fantasies of broken men and women, where can we turn?
In a culture (both secular and Christian) that worships celebrity and wealth and forgets the poor — the ones whom God came for — where can we turn?
Our hearts cry out in despair to the one true God, to the Holy one, to our King whose name is above all names. Whose thoughts are above our thoughts, and whose ways are above our ways. I don't know why it is that monsters exploit the most vulnerable of humanity. I don't know why nameless beloved children of God die unknown, unseen, and unloved — but today I find hope in the words of a leader who died for the cause of the kingdom and his love for humanity.
I echo this prayer with you, Dr. King:
MLK: “Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right. I think I am right. I think the cause that we represent is right. But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now. I’m faltering. I’m losing my courage.”
God: “Martin Luther King, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you, even until the end of the world.”