Because I Am Loved
Even on my worst days I am more blessed than most people. This was the epiphany I had driving back from the beach the other day. This didn’t come as a guilt filled realization but rather it came with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I grew up in Northern California with to two parents who loved me and loved God. My childhood was filled with imagination, exploration, and adventure with my six siblings. Growing up, I never knew what it felt like to go hungry or feel unsafe or abused. Not saying that my life has been easy in any way, shape, or form but just that I grew up in the security of a loving family. However, though I am beyond thankful for my childhood it has often come with a deep sense of guilt. Why did I get the life I did? Why was I so blessed? Did I earn it? If so, do I have to keep earning it?
This winter I came back from leading my first outreach to Thailand and the Philippines. When I finally had time to rest and reflect over my experiences I realized that there was a lot I still needed to process. Doing human trafficking ministry in Asia is no joke. It's all well and good to talk about going to the darkest places of the earth when you’re sitting in the comfort of your own home, but it's another story when you’re actually standing in a Thai bar talking to countless men and women who have only been accustom to the most horrific things. The stories I heard and the things I saw left me with more emotions than I knew how to deal with in the present moment. Subconsciously I tucked my emotions away thinking I had dealt with everything I was seeing each day. As I figured out later on, I deeply needed God to show up and speak into the overwhelming pain, sorrow, and burden I had for those trapped in slavery. Because of the way my mind works, I am always looking for solutions to fix problems. If I see something I feel isn’t right I try my hardest to make it right. So you can imagine that the issue of human trafficking as a whole became quite overwhelming to me. Each country has its own individual reasons why trafficking is a problem and how it continues everyday. So there is no single solution or list of steps to follow in order to end human trafficking for good. This made me incredibly frustrated and discouraged to know that so many of the girls and boys we’d met would never get to know true freedom. I was overwhelmed with guilt to think that I was only there for two months and then got to go home to a place where I fully exist in freedom (God, country, family, ect).
When I first began to process with God it became very apparent that I was not allowing myself to feel the pain of it all. It seemed that, if I allowed the emotions to come out, I would just drown in a sorrow that I would not recover from. The thing is, though, that if we bring our sorrow and heartache to God, He is faithful to not let it crush us but rather He uses it for something beautiful. As I processed, God’s voice came in so loving and gentle. He told me that the world is too heavy to carry on my own shoulders. He asked if I would give Him back the burden to save all the people that I met and the millions who are still trapped. He told me that I did not need to feel guilty for all He’s given me. I didn’t need to pay back the gifts I’ve been given because He has already payed for it all through His son. His gifts are freely given because He loves me and that is all. When we look at the injustices of the world it is easy to become discouraged, heartbroken, and jaded; for there is so much pain all around us. But the truth is that God does not ask us to go into all the world and save every person. No, He asks that we go into all the world and share with people the transformative story of God’s greatest gift to mankind. He never asked me to take on the burden to save people because I literally can’t save a single person. I can offer all the resources in the world but in order for them to be truly free they need to experience the powerful love of God; for that heals so much more than therapy ever could. We as followers of Christ only need to be obedient to what He has asked of us - no more, no less.
The beauty of God humbling us is in the gracious act of claiming back control of the world and our own lives, for a burden that size will surely crush everything beautiful inside. We weren’t meant to carry the world and we weren’t meant to even carry ourselves. We were made to rely and live from the never-ending, unmeasurable love of God. Even on my worst days I have more than most people because I know through and through that I have a Father that loves me more than I could ever possibly love Him back and He gives the greatest gifts of all just because He loves me. That is the light I carry into every Red Light district I enter and that is what will save the exploited.