I have nothing in common with a prostitute.
If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve had this thought many times in your life. Or maybe you’ve never even thought about it all. Which is ok because It’s likely not a common comparison. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that you, yes you, have many things in common with the ladies of the night.
And I just couldn’t believe that I was so wrong about this. Because I tend to be right about many things in life. Which is also a lie.
But let me tell you a story of how I came face to face with my inaccurate thought processes:
There I was. With all my holy haughtiness. Sitting in the back of a van with a few other ladies and one gentleman. Riding around an area in Atlanta known for its high rate of trafficking and prostitution. I was excited, scared, anxious, and relaxed all at the same time.
I was sure that I was going to venture out into the darkness to bring the light. That I would touch the souls of men and women who felt trapped in lives where their bodies encompassed their worth.
And that’s exactly what was going through my mind as we approached the first lady to give her a rose and extend a hand out of that way of life. But as soon as I stepped out of the van to dramatically save her soul, I was smacked by a sudden realization.
Yes, Jesus slaps people. Right in the face. And it’s not a gentle nudge. It involves all five fingers and has the weight of the Holy Spirit behind it. And also behind that slap was an epiphany that this girl, these women, were all me.
I am broken. I am a mother trying to make ends meet to raise my daughter in the best way I know how. I feel overwhelmed by circumstances. I struggle with keeping my worth in line with my God-given value. I believe the lie that one decision won’t change my destiny. I have allowed tiny decisions to add up until the damage was evident to myself and others. And that damage led me to surrender in the arms of my Creator.
But one more decision could have brought me to those same corners where I came offering roses and hope. One more decision could have landed me on dark stages stripping off pieces of myself to gain hurt in return. One more decision could have seen me depending on the cheap approval of men to feel loved.
But that’s the funny thing about doing things for the Kingdom. You walk in all high and mighty ready to change lives, only to realize that you were the one who needed changing.
And trust me, you’d much rather learn humility through service and putting on the suffering of others than have God knock you down to size. I mean, have you read the Bible? He’s been known to rain fire, instant death, and turn folks into a pillar of salt. No thanks. I don’t want to be the seasoning on anyone’s meal.
So next time you step out to share life, remember to see yourself in every single person that crosses your path and leave your piety at home. Vulnerability is more powerful than holiness. And service is much more effective when others can see where you’ve been compared to where you are. That is dealing hope that their lives can be better, can be different, rather than sending them the message that they could never be you.
PS – If after reading this, you are still of the mind that you couldn’t possibly be that person you’re serving, just remember three things. One, Jesus slaps people. Two, God can rain fire. FIRE. And three, you are not that important (Galatians 6:3).