Saturday, May 24, 2008

It's actually okay not to be okay...

For a few weeks now, I've felt like I have to apologize to people. I've felt so guilty that I'm scared about this trip. I've thought that by admitting that I was scared and that this wouldn't be my first choice for a mission trip, that I would seem to be ungrateful. As though I was moaning and groaning because 'poor Julie... she has to spend two weeks in Thailand witnessing some of the most horrific evils existing in this world.' I kept telling myself that I just needed to suck it up and push aside my fears because, yes, I'll spend two weeks witnessing some awful things, but what about those women and children who actually LIVE it everyday??? They aren't spectators- they are forced participators. Their bodies and minds are violated every day, if not numerous times a day. So, needless to say, I've felt like when I tell someone that I'm nervous or scared, in the same breath, I've been apologizing. I guess that I've been apologizing because I felt like I was being a bad witness to both Christians and non-Christians alike. To Christians, I figured that I probably seemed ungrateful (no one said this, this was my own thought) because here God was working in my life and giving me some direction and all that I could do was complain about it. Why wasn't I being more trusting in Him? Why wasn't I showing the faith that I'm supposed to have as a Christian? Then to non-Christians I figured that I was being a really poor example. Who's going to be interested in learning about the gospel if they see that this is what it does to you? You're paralyzed with fear and crying every other day... I didn't think that people's response would be, "that seems great! Sign me up for that!" All around I felt crappy about myself and then, the other day, I came across this scripture:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Now, I've heard and read this scripture numerous times before... but, this was one of those occassions, when I got something new out of it. "My power works best in weakness." has kind of been a mantra of mine for preparing for this trip. I keep telling myself, 'yes, I can't do this, but He can'. But, I never paid much attention to the next sentence, "So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." Paul boasted about his weaknesses. And, it was a GOOD thing, not a bad thing. If I put on a phoney front and acted like I had no concerns and that I was perfectly fine going on this trip, then people might mistakenly think that I was doing this on my own strength. When I let others see how I'm really feeling and what I'm really thinking, then they'll know that if I was depending on my own strength, well, I'd be toast. You'd see me sitting over in a corner or, better yet, running for the hills. I feel like this piece of scripture gave me the freedom to let others see how I really am feeling. Truthfully, I've experienced every emotion I can think of... joy, anticipation, anger, fear, inadequacy, grateful, etc. etc. etc. and I'm sure that I'll run through those feelings several other times.

Now, on another note, I went to a Human Trafficking meeting this past Wednesday. They had several speakers. One was a woman who had been a victim of trafficking right here in Orange County. Another speaker was a gentleman who works on a taskforce to help curb the trafficking epidemic and he shared the story of a young 12 year old Egyptian girl who was brought over and forced to work for this couple 16-18 hours/day for 2 1/2 years. She was saved because someone in the community called the authorities to tell them that there was a young girl who wasn't going to school, so they went to investigate and the whole story unravelled. This was in Irvine... the cookie-cutter, almost stepford wife-ish city. I think that it's important to hear these stories because I think that the majority of us have fooled ourselves into thinking that human trafficking happens 'over there' and to 'those people'. Not here in America and not to us. But, worldwide, San Francisco, CA is #12 in terms of volume of human trafficking. They also had this young girl who was a student at USF. David Batstone who wrote 'Not for Sale' is a professor at USF and he teaches a Social Justice course. The purpose of the entire course is to have the students go out and conduct investigative research into potential areas of modern-day slavery. The research the newspapers and review the weekly ads, especially the ads for 'massage parlors'. They pay attention to ads that change over time. i.e. the phone number stays the same, but the look of the ad changes or the address changes. They also look for certain wording such as "new girls every week" or "worldly girls". Then they actually go out and survey the suspicious locations. They watch them, from a distance, from opening to closing. This one particular place they surveyed, they noticed that the same woman opened and closed the shop- you never saw any of the other workers leaving. They appeared to live there and they were locked in couldn't get out- there were bars on the windows and door and there were surveilance cameras on the place. They ended up turning in the evidence to the authorities and it's still in the process of being reviewed. That's something that is so frustrating to me. There's so much red tape that has to be gone through. Do you think that if it was the daughter of one of those 'powers that be' that they'd be sitting around, content, waiting for all of the 'proper procedures' to be gone through??? No, of course not. They would be busting down the door and doing whatever it takes to save their child. But, what do we do to change things? That's always the big question. If anyone else has the answer, clue me in.


Dana said...

Your transformation continues to astound me. Wow. You are an inspiration on many levels. Thanks for sharing this peek into your heart, mind and soul. I'm reading them backwards but it's great.