Saturday, November 21, 2009

She refused the rose

I am privileged to be a part of a church that does something called Midnight Outreach where we bring long steamed red roses to girls who are in the strip clubs. There is a card attached that has our church info listed and says something like 'this is a little gift to brighten your day, no strings attached'. We do not preach and while some of the girls do not believe this, we do not judge. We just want them to know we think about them and Jesus loves them. No matter what they do in those clubs.

I went with the group to give out roses this week and saw many girls, but one who occupies my mind still.

As I pushed my way through the crowded club full of barely dressed girls, she spots me as I hand out roses and slurs "HEY. You know me!". Yes, I did.

As I took in her face and plastered a smile on mine, a million thoughts shot through my head all at once. We were best friends once. We had both buried a daughter, her after a long battle with something incurable. I remembered what her step dad had done to me and thought about what he must have done to her. I remembered the guy I liked that she slept with to prove a point and her mother's spaghetti. I remembered her mom having her at 15 and spending her money on pot instead of my friend and her little brother. I remember her dropping out of school at 16 because in all those years she had never learned to read.

As I focused on not looking anywhere but her eyes, my heart flooded with sorrow and began to spill over so much my smile started to crack. My lips twitched as I stood frozen knowing the rules say 'no conversations' (club rule, not church. They do not want us to have the opportunity to preach to a girl who could be making them money) and do not look anywhere but her face. Our rule, actually. We do not want to come across as better than them or judgemental. She went to slip her hand around my waist and I wanted to hug her so bad but instead I pulled back. She took offence but it was not because of her. It was not even because she was wearing less than a bra & panties, was drunk as shit and was straddling another girl dressed much the same. I wanted to hug her and drag her out and tell her I was so sorry for the life she was dealt and promise her it could be better! I wanted to, but I just stood there and smiled that big smile that was a cross between shock & crazy. I offered her a rose and she refused. She turned down the rose that to her maybe meant judgement and condemnation. She turned down a rose that showed the sharp contrast between my life and hers.

I was dressed for the weather in layers while she was hardly dressed. My husband of 11 years was at our nice home full of nice stuff sound asleep with 2 of our daughters to snuggle with and a hope for the future. She was 35 years old and drunk on a Thursday night that was moving fast into a Friday morning that looks a lot like hell if I had to guess.

She said to me, "God. You look so different". I KNOW, I wanted to scream! It was not my hair or the extra 15 pounds. My face looks exactly the same as it did when I was 10, actually. I knew what she meant. She saw the Hope. "His Name is Jesus!" I wanted to grab her and say. "You see Hope in me and you can have it too". Instead I said "Nice seeing you, Christian" and turned on my heels and walked out of the club into the cold night air.

I can not stop thinking about Christian and my heart & eyes continue to overflow with sorrow and sadness. The hardness of her heart was plain on her face but I pray she does not forget how different I look. I pray she experiences the Love of Christ even though she will have no idea how to comprehend it. I know my God will continue to pursue her and I pray she will not refuse Him again, like she did my rose. I pray she finds hope, before it is too late.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Redefined Beauty

I have daughters. Plus I am a girl. If you have ever talked to me about having girls or even being one, chances are I have brought up the books I have read by Vicki Courtney. She used to be a feminist then became a Christian and writes about how to raise Christian daughters in this filthy world.

I really like her perspective and got all kinds of fired up recently after re-reading some of her stuff. I get so frustrated at the sex saturated unrealistic media standards about beauty and some days I am convinced the problem is too vast to even address. Then other days, one of my girls will make a comment that lets me know she is not giving herself the value she deserves and my blood boils and I am convinced the same power that conquered the grave is in me and all the powers of hell can not stop me from wielding the Sword of Truth and exposing the lies the world has told about what beauty is.

As women, Christians or not, we are more than the sum of our parts. I am so mad we do not live this truth and instead allow for a porn-riddled culture to impose this narrow definition of beauty, which does not allow for the natural effects of childbearing or aging.

After spending a week people watching (woman watching specifically) in Disney, where many different cultures were represented, I had to admit I found myself defining beauty based on the typical Hollywood standards. In doing so, I devalued my own beauty and that of the females around me. After reading 'we are more than the sum of our parts' and thinking about what beauty truly is, my vision began to refocus and I saw the loveliness of motherhood and the aged. I saw the beauty in uniqueness and remembered that I do not want to be like or look like someone other than me. I also was saddened to see so many women trying to be beautiful by being provocative and exposed. Girls! We do not need to sell ourselves by showing off our parts! We are more than that!

The facts are that the garment industry assumes the hourglass shape is dominate and manufactures clothing to fit that shape when only 8% of the 6,318 US women in a 2007 study in fact have that shape. So we shop and have trouble finding clothes to fit us nicely, then put ourselves down and vie for the figures of Hollywood stars.

Beauty should come from within first, but there is nothing wrong with trying to beautify the temple we are given as long as it is in good taste and not the primary focus. There just must be a balance and a realistic standard we measure ourselves by. says only 2% of women would describe themselves as beautiful. Help me redefine beauty and find the beauty in yourself and the women in your world. Let's do our part to expose the unhealthy lies the world feeds us about what beauty really is. Do you think you are beautiful? I think I am.