She isn’t one I wanted to stop for.
It wasn’t her pain……it was mine.
After locking my heart and my story in a dungeon for 10 years, I took a chance and asked a few friends who are involved in the trafficking movement for help in the drowning of last year. I remember so clearly now why the dungeon is safer.
Completely rejected, my heart could not have been hurt more, and this pain is still so fresh.*
I want to keep walking but her words stop me. “Don’t I know you? Weren’t we in that thing together last fall?”
My heart – bleeding now from fresh wounds, erecting walls that should never have been breached, is in hiding. I just want to disappear – too much pain to engage even an acquaintance.
I contemplate pretending to be someone else and just walking away. But I give in. “Sure. Yes, I remember you. How are you?”
She’s kind – like most people you don’t really know. Our conversation winds around this and that. And then it’s over.
I walk to my car with the familiar weight, and I am just done.
And then I hear it. It whispers, quiet. That still, small voice. I strain to hear above Rejection’s roar.
And then it’s there again, quiet, but more audible. “Gold,” He whispers.
I ponder and then forget. Move on with my day, my heart heavy with Rejection’s chains.
Hours later, the same voice beckons, “Beauty.”
He has my attention. Wasn’t I just praying this morning the words of Psalm 31?
And here it is. The beauty of unfailing love calling to my broken heart, the veil of rejection lifted for a moment. And suddenly there is revelation. A new knowing in my heart.
Can one truly know the gift that is light without first knowing darkness?
Isn’t beauty more beautiful when it was traded for ashes?
Doesn’t joy radiate more abundantly from grief?
Shouldn’t one know true weakness to ever really know true strength?
These things I know to be true. But how do darkness, grief, and ashes bear gold?
In this place of rejection and worse-than-ever isolation heaped on top of all the other pain, where is He and what is He doing in me?
Job said it like this:
“But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:8-10 NIV)
And I see it – the gold.
These chains around my heart dull me. In this place of utter rejection and wounds so fresh, I cannot find Him. But He knows the way that I take.. He knows how to find me.
And in the end, there will be gold…….
Because light shines the brightest in the heart that has known the deepest darkness.
And joy radiates most abundantly from the deepest grief.
Unfailing love is best understood by a heart who knows well the deepest kinds of rejection.
And the exchange for these ashes, my life? Beauty.
In the end……gold.
And today, that one little word will inspire me to keep pretending, keep hoping…..keep breathing.
*I continue to experience rejection for the depth of trauma I experienced in being trafficked, in spite of the recent explosion of awareness and the fact that many people now seem eager to do something about this global issue. It seems that people love the idea of rescuing trafficking victims, but are absolutely terrified of encountering the actual pain that is experienced in the aftermath. Maybe their God is too small. Maybe they are busy being heroes and fighting the fight, with nothing left to give to the actual people represented in this evil. Maybe in general they love the idea of fighting something so evil, but aren’t ready to actually sit long in those dark, hard places to really walk out healing with someone long term. This rejection touches the deep, fatherless place of pain inside of me that tells me that it is the same reason my father sold me to start with, the same reason my traffickers could laugh at my pain – that my life is just not worth much.
Please, please do not get involved with restoration of trafficking survivors – personally or organizationally – unless you KNOW that God has equipped you to do so and you are willing to make a long-term commitment to walking – with unconditional love – through healing with them. I’ve said it before, but if you harbor desire for personal or professional gain in your work with survivors, then it is imperative that you NOT be directly involved with survivors, because those motivations will never yield the kind of love or commitment it takes to do this work. Abandonment and rejection are the bedrock in nearly all trafficking survivors stories. To experience these two things again in pursuit of healing is traumatizing beyond words.