In recent weeks I lifted my eyes and my heart from the task at hand – reaching out to women working in strip clubs – to explore a greater vision, a network of women reaching coast-to-coast and around the world, women joining hands, coming together, praying together, reaching for the best on our journeys, together.
We are all connected.
In recent weeks I found myself embraced in conversations, in a global convergence, an unfettered exploration of humanity – a passionate vision of a world without strip clubs, pornography, prostitution and human trafficking.
It is a tall order – a seemingly impossible dream – especially for a woman who values freedom of expression and abhors censorship; a woman who champions choice and passionately believes in God; a woman who is tentatively exploring the Creator who intelligently and divinely grants her the dignity of free will while laying out a plan for every breath of her life before she was a heartbeat in a living womb.
If my first 45 years here on earth were a pallet of primary colors and a time for learning the basic brush strokes of experience, the past 4 years matured in me a heart for blending colors, a budding understanding of the play between light and darkness, a depth of exploration that is only possible in Christ.
The blending of color and light comes in choosing to examine my own moments of darkness, uncovering the painful edges of emotional broken bones and cutting away life-draining infections within my soul.
I cannot comprehend how free will intersects with God’s chosen path for me. I simply listen in this moment, seek the next step on the path – then choose. Yes. No.
Yes, buts and Maybes are not an option. Simply and fully, Yes or No.
Today I am asked, What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?
The phrase that comes is parallel paths.
As I reach out and touch one human life, then another – move one relationship at a time, one step at a time on a path toward a world without strip clubs, pornography, prostitution and human trafficking – where are God’s parallel paths? Who are the people walking beside me, on paths I may not see?
I see poverty and hunger, lack of clean water and education. I see physical need. I see human need. I see spiritual hunger, a starvation of hope and dignity. I see the broken hearts of the women, children, and men prostituted and trafficked. I witness the shattered humanity of the men and women casting the net of evil, selling and buying, beating and raping.
I see the power to stop traffick: I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. *
I will never attain all I dream possible. My life here on earth is not long enough. Each day, as the sun rises, I will reach out and seek the eyes of another human being, and say yes. God has plans for us, God will never abandon us, God will give us hope and a future. We need only say yes.
* Jeremiah 29:10-11 MSG excerpt
Alternative Paths by Jonathan Fields
When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them. (Author: Jonathan Fields)