She showed me her scars. The physical ones you could see on the surface anyway. Others became apparent as we talked. I could see them, even if she couldn’t.
The evidence showed this was no made-up story she’d told me about a terrible accident, being patched back together and having to learn to walk again.
It wasn’t the first story I’d heard like that, and it wouldn’t be the last.
Her pain was her vulnerability. Traffickers prey on vulnerabilities.
She’d been prescribed opioids to manage the pain, to help her heal. Her will and tenacity helped her stand again, and the drugs knocked her back down.
Instead of healing, too much of this medicine did harm. Grave harm. Maybe even wrecked her life more than the accident.
She became addicted to the pain meds. The street version was cheaper. Trying to stop caused more pain. She’d get so sick from withdrawal, when she tried to quit, she thought she was going to die.
A friend “helped” her, she said. Helped her to acquire drugs, so she could get them “safely.” Helped her earn money for a place to stay—with him. He just marked the drugs up a little. He just took a little money for rent. He just took some of her earnings to pay for gas when he drove her to appointments.
This was her choice, she’d say. Society said so too. He was her helper, her friend, she said. Her protector. Certainly not her pimp she’d say.
I asked what her life was like before the accident. “I was just a wife and a mom,” she said.
Not just. How many little girls grow up dreaming of their wedding and of having a family?
How many dream of their bodies becoming a commodity, sold for survival, to line a “friend’s” pockets, and to help them get the next hit to relieve the feeling that they are dying?
Before pain made her vulnerable, before the drugs knocked her down. Before she became dependent on a friend for her next hit, to earn the next dollar, to have shelter, she was “just” a mom.
I wonder what she and all the others with stories like hers would give to be “just a mom” again?
What must it be like to have been “just a mom” and now to believe the lie she repeats? The lie that she is “just a prostitute.”
No one is “just a prostitute.”
She is a woman whose body was literally broken. She is a woman who can have hope because Truth and Love came down in the flesh—in a body that was broken too, so that the broken could be whole again.
And now as a community it is time to respond.
No one is “just a prostitute.” Don’t ever say that.
Everyone has known brokenness in some way. Everyone can know healing. What if instead of labeling her or even ourselves as “just” anything, what if we spoke the Truth of one another’s value? What if we lived Love to our friend and even to our enemy and to those society says are “less than?”
I don’t know what happened to her in the years since we met—the woman I picture—or to so many others like her. I wish I could have brought her and each of them to RAHAB.
I wish she’d encountered the hope, the unconditional love without judgment, that are so freely offered here. Healing is found through hope.
I’m privileged to spend my days in a place where Love raises the Truth back to life. That is the power of Love. You cannot encounter this place and remain the same.
The scars—of the One broken for us and our own—serve as a reminder of strength and redemption. Scars remind that evil tried to kill and destroy, but Truth and Love triumphed.
Wherever you are today, live Love and speak the Truth of their value to someone who might otherwise feel invisible. That might be all they need to stay standing, to get back up, or to find the strength to take another step toward their calling and destiny.
Those seemingly small things, living Love and speaking Truth for even a few moments, with all of us doing them together, are the giant thing that will change the world.