Friday, May 27, 2011

I Was A Prostitute: The Truth About Sex

Last night I went to a sex trafficking awareness event.

Black and white photographs - mug shots - of broken, bruised women arrested and brought in for prostitution flashed across the screen, over and over and over. Horrifically broken women. Women who, like horses, have had their spirits broken in order to serve another man's purpose and desire.

I listened to a 30 second clip of a young woman pleading and sobbing with a judge for mercy in his ruling on her 31 solicitation charges: "This isn't me. I'm not this woman. I don't want to be this. I don't want to do this anymore. This isn't me. Please, please help me. Please."

Don't punish me for what I did, because this isn't the woman I wanted to be.

But I feel like I have no other option.

I beg of you to be the man who stands in my defense.

Sitting on that cold, wooden bench, watching this girl beg for someone to understand that Prostitute wasn't her name, I was shocked to find that the ache swelling in my heart was an ache I'd felt before. The same pain I've felt many times. An ache I could see written on the faces of every single girl and woman in that room.

Why could every woman identify with the sobbing prostitute in the court room?

I have begged for someone to see me as the woman I want to be; not as the woman I've fallen into being.

I have been the woman condemned by the sex I've allowed, agreed to, and willingly sought out - but later, desperately cried out for someone, anyone who will understand that this isn't the woman I want to be. This isn't me.

But a small part of me feels like I had no other option. It was out of my control. I said yes, but did I really mean it?

Desperately wanting a man to stand in my defense. To fight for me, before he wants sex.

"I used to think prostitutes were the criminals. Not the victims. Everyone has a choice, right? She had the option of not agreeing to sex. But look at these women's faces. When you judge thousands of domestic violence cases, you learn what victims look like and what they don't. And every single woman brought in on a solicitation charge looks like a victim. I started studying statistics on women charged with selling their bodies. Every single woman has been the victim of another crime: domestic violence, abuse, incest, molestation, abandonment. But we prosecute them as the criminal."

So this judge made the decision to start viewing prostitutes not as criminals, but as victims. A second chance.

Sex taken from them. Not given. Even though they said yes. Even though they received something in return.

Every time I had sex I said yes to it. But I have always felt like something was taken from me. Even though every single time I thought I got what I wanted or needed that night.

Do you have a choice? And is that really the question? Is it really the word Yes or No that matters?

Did those women have the choice to say no to giving up their bodies in return for something else they desperately needed to make it through the day?

Do you? Do I? Out of the overflow of the heart, so the mouth speaks.

The ugly truth of prostitution is that those women don't really have a choice. The majority of them have been trafficked, and if you're familiar with trafficking, you know that it is kidnapping and slavery in it's most brutal, gruesome, despicable, evil form.

The ugly truth of prostitution is that those women exchanged sex for what they needed to get through that day alive, according to their past, their perspective, and the men who shaped their lives.

And the ugly truth of my sex life is that in the past, I have given every inch of my body in exchange for what I needed to get through that day alive, according to my past, my perspective, and the men who shaped my life and my culture.

That is why every woman in the room could relate to the desperation, pain, judgement, guilt, brokenness, and plea for mercy expressed by the prostitute.

Because I believe that as a woman who has had sex with men who did not commit their life and love to me, I am as that of a prostitute.

As are you, if you have also slept with a man before he married you.

I am not judging you. I am fighting heart and soul in your defense.

Because I know that you feel like you were the victim of another crime. A father who left. A man who broke your spirit. An emptiness that never ceases. Pain inflicted on you by another. A culture that tells you sex is all you're worth. Men who have degraded, devalued and destroyed women through pornography. A society that has lied to you about sex since the day you were born. The victim of men who refused to fight in your behalf; men who refused to fight for you. All of you.

Because I know that when you said yes, you thought he would stay. Because I know that when you said yes, you knew he wouldn't.

Because I know that you were in search of something other than sex, just as I was.

The truth is that when we want sex, we want passionate intimacy. We want a man to want us. We want him to actively, physically demonstrate his intense desire for us - over everything else he could be doing at this very moment.

We want closeness. We want to feel needed, wanted; to feel like we both fully satisfy and are satisfied by another.

I'm not eliminating our desire for physical pleasure, or to put it bluntly, saying that "women just want to be wanted, we don't care about getting off."

No. What I'm pointing out is that when we crave sex, we are craving things that can't be delivered by getting ourselves off. Otherwise we would be forever content with that.

And this is how we identify how powerful sex is.

I am not jaded when it comes to sex. I am not pandering abstinence because traditional Christianity labels all self-indulgence as "sin."

I want it. I enjoy it. It frustrates me when I cannot have it. But I have learned that "sex will satisfy me" is a lie, and comes at great cost.

Beloved woman, would you still be turned on if the man in your bed said:

"You're sexy, but I might decide another woman is sexier later."

"You are beautiful, but not enough to make me yours forever."

"I love you, but I can't promise I'll protect you, in fact - I'll probably hurt you instead."

"I love getting you off, but if you get pregnant, I might not be the dad."

"I love your body, but only because you're hot. And I'm watching porn when I'm not with you."

"I want you more than anything, but just tonight. It will be different next week."

"I came over because you're easy sex and I don't have to really love you to get anything."

"I want your beauty and your warmth and your body, but nothing else."

Whether or not the man you are sleeping with is saying these things out loud, these statements are being branded into your mind, body & heart every single time you have sex outside of marriage.

Because they are all true, when sex is had without a diamond on your finger. There is no guarantee that a man is staying, that he loves you and is committed to you - and so these statements are inherently true. And there is nothing that the best intentions can do to alter their truth.

Even if you are content with going through with sex, and sacrificing what you know you want or deserve in order for temporary companionship, comfort, "love," or physical pleasure, you WILL start to believe certain things about yourself, other men, and other women.

You will start to believe that you are no better. That men are no better.

It will alter your view of sex, love, relationships, and men. But most importantly, it will alter your view of yourself.

It will name you Prostitute when your precious, broken heart begs a man to see you as the woman you always wanted to be.

We are a generation of women who have been convinced by the men in our lives that sex is what we have to give in order to attain what we need to get through life.

I crave Something, and men have convinced me that sex will fill it.

Be honest with me. When you tell yourself that you want sex, did you come to this conclusion by yourself? Or is it the product of the men in your life and the culture you live in? I challenge you to sit down and wrestle through this.

Are you the criminal, or are you the victim of a broken world, in dire need of Love in it's true form?

Women, we have sold ourselves.

And it is breaking us.

The human body is not built to withstand regrettable sex. We are not built to give everything before he has stepped up and committed to give us everything back. This is why you feel like something has been taken, even though you said yes.

Women, you are not built to have sex with a man who has not committed his heart, mind and body to you for the rest of your life.

I beg of you to join me in saying No.

Saying No to the lie that sex alone will satisfy what you crave.

Saying No to men until one of them loves you enough to promise to give, not to take. For the rest of his life.

I beg of you to sit at the foot of Jesus with me as Prostitute. As he gives us new names, and fights in our behalf.

Men: This was written for women. It is my great hope that you will be a man who stands up and defends the value of women, and resolves to protect a woman's identity as well as her body, spirit and heart. A loved and respected woman is of infinite value to you. My man writes on sex & pornography. Read more here. And yes, we are waiting.

Men & Women: I run Good Women Project, and we are doing a giveaway of the book Love & War by John & Staci Eldredge. Go leave a comment here if you would like to enter to win.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Most Important Thing

"It’s 12:33am on a Sunday, and I haven’t slept in my own bed or shaved my legs in my own shower in about two months.

I haven’t been alone for more than 30 waking minutes since March 24th.

I went to a new church today. Two of them, actually.

I have holes in my boots and a blister from flip-flops given to me by a woman who knew I needed them.

I just missed an important credit card payment on accident, and they don’t take apology letters.

I can’t decide if I’m more upset that I decided to wait for marriage, or that I’m not already married.

I just want to sleep next to him right now.

I’ve been sitting at this damn table for two hours now, looking at this little list of things, wondering whose idea it was to give me a platform of any sort. "

Read the rest of my post on today >>>

Monday, May 16, 2011

Injecting Purpose Into Your Life Before It's Too Late

"Life" overwhelms me. Not every morning I wake up - - just the word itself.

Probably because whenever I hear a word, I have some sort of visual image of it in my head. But the word "life?" I can't see anything. I can barely grasp it.

What IS it?

It's something that's so broad it can't be defined. And when we try, we do a pretty bad job of it - probably because the majority of us live in nice little organized bubbles filled with people that are either in the same grade, the same field, the same stage of life, or the same lifestyle. Just lots of You's, and all right now. Too few differences, and we only see what we know.

When was the last time you saw someone die? Do you know what the inside of a 62 year old's mind looks like, suddenly widowed and estranged from her grown children? I can't possibly know what her life was, is, or will be - what was important to her, how she made defining life choices, what she clung to, or what she regretted most.

And not once has Death dealt its blow in the same room I was in, forcing me to grasp the brevity of my body's ability to keep functioning.

After 23 probably-a-bit-stranger-than-yours years, and the past 47 days sleeping in strangers' houses, my mental projection of future-Life is fuzzier than the antique radio you just picked up at Goodwill.

The primary lesson I've learned is that there is no normal. Every single person (and family) is a wildly unique, intricate mess - and there are no two alike. When you start crossing state lines, belief systems, extreme family histories, and life stages, most of them are so different you experience a mild level of culture shock. (47 consecutive days and nights of baby culture shocks translates to permanent jet-lag, in case you were wondering.)

I'm not faced with the widow's regret. I haven't experienced 50 years of working a "good" job, waking up to realize that my priorities were all out of line. I can't chase Corporate America for 40 years to see if I can break six figures, and then go back to try chasing radical relationships and spur of the moment adventure for 40 more to see if I feel more fulfilled that way.

It has been these things, these experiences, that make me realize how much I covet wisdom.

We don't get do-overs in life. We get to choose one way of living, and that's all we've got.

So what is at our core, that we can truly cling to and live by?

Do you have a life mission? A goal? Something bigger than you that you're working for? Something worth making sacrifices over?

If someone gave you an index card and asked you to write down the purpose of your life, could you?

I'm not bringing anything new to the table today. We've been told our whole lives that money can't buy happiness, that love makes the world go round, and now in this generation that quitting your 9-5 job is going to catapult you into a kickass life worth blogging about.

But catchphrases aren't enough. Quitting your job doesn't guarantee you a purpose if you didn't have one already. It just guarantees less money, and a schedule so flexible it's almost panic-attack inducing. Quitting your job is only worth it if it's a sacrifice you're making for a very specific life God has called you to.

Because it's not what you're doing, it's how you're doing it.

When my road splits, I have to have some sort of foundation to make decisions by. I need to have pre-determined truths and priorities that I know I will fight to keep present in my daily life.

I know that 4 years ago I wrote on an index card, "that she would show love, grace and compassion to everyone she met, regardless of what was shown to her." That's what I want people to say of me when I die. Because I don't know if I'll die at the hands of a crazy tribe warrior, or silently in my own million dollar home. But I've decided that either way, I'll die happy if people know me by that.

I know what I'll make sacrifices for: love, grace and compassion.

I want to keep those three things alive in everything I do. For the rest of my life. Whatever it looks like.

I challenge you to chase wisdom. To sit down and talk with someone twice your age. Save yourself a lifetime of regret. Save yourself wasted time, energy spent on things that won't be worth it. Determine what you want to be known for. Write it down. Flesh out your understanding of life and a life worth living.

Be one of those few people that doesn't know exactly what they're doing, but knows exactly how they're doing it.

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"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble." I Peter 3:7-9

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:12

"Do you now believe? You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things that you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:31-33

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Note: This post was triggered by an incredibly awesome late-night table discussion with some good people I've been hanging out with this week in Savannah, GA. Josh Lind runs The Fusionist, and we ended up all making a list of 10 things that make our life worth really living. You know, the things that you remember experiencing, and you know in your heart of hearts that life is truly good? My list is over at The Fusionist. Please take a moment to read my guest post there, and leave your 10 things!

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