She was standing in the corner, pressed against a locker, almost looking like she wished she would disappear. Dark, frizzy and unkempt hair, so thin, barely clothed and when she did walk away, purple and black bruises were scattered down her starving legs.
This weekend I had the privilege of joining up with some dear women and spending my Friday night in the locker rooms of two local “gentlemen’s” clubs. To be perfectly honest, it’s breaking my heart to even remember it, but at the same time, I was on cloud nine all evening that we were there. It was the same story for all of them. Their children were hungry. Their men were gone or unemployed. Their families were not available or not alive. I met two new friends at the first club. I didn’t know exactly what I would say or what would even happen but I know one thing: God’s favor was thick and tangible. When we arrived, we were ushered through the club to the back where the managers told us they were so excited that we were there and that they would send all the girls in to hang out with us. We had cupcakes, brownies, cucumber sandwiches, some soda, and the Holy Spirit. And in walk just the most beautiful women I had seen all day.
It didn’t matter what they were wearing, hair, make up, whatever. It wasn’t who they were and I just wanted to know about them. “Hi, what’s your name?” I asked with an extended hand. “Dream- I mean Chelsea. Haha, sorry sometimes I forget which name I’m using.” “We brought you cupcakes!” “Oh my gosh, I love cupcakes!” And this is how the night began. We talked and laughed and carried on, only interrupted when one had to go perform but she promised to be right back. We laughed about their kids, how they fell in the toilet while potty training and other silly things that kids say. She told me about how she did her make up and I tried on her enormous shoes. We must have been the darnest thing to behold; me dressed like a Stepford wife in training and her unbothered to be completely without any clothes at all. But it was amazing. I know this should be obvious, and maybe it is to you, but I just realized, that ultimately we were, down to our cores, just women. So when I wondered what to talk about, the answer was obvious. What did I talk to my girl friends about? Chocolate. Children. Boyfriends. Our dreams. They all had dreams. One wanted to be a nurse, one wanted to get her Master’s and work with people struggling with schizophrenia, one wanted to be a cosmetologist, one wanted to be a good mom.
As I talked with one woman and she began to confide in me, she started to tear up. “I began this three weeks ago and I hate it. Honestly, I’m a modest and classy woman,” (she looked at what she was wearing and then back and me and I could tell that she hoped I would actually believe her), “I used to be a travel agent and I loved it! But when my Dad passed away and both my children started having serious medical problems, I lost my job and I haven’t been able to get on my feet. I just want another job. I can’t deal with dancing like this. I hate it so much.” Something in my heart just broke. I wanted to just fix all her problems and make it all okay, but I can’t. I don’t have money or a job to offer her. But in that moment, I was glad to be without anything to offer at all because it reminded me of the one thing I did have to offer, which just happens to be the best thing I could possibly give: Christ. “Hey, I don’t know how you feel about this, but do you mind if I pray for your son and your job?” “Yes, please.” “Can I pray with you right now?” “Yes!” She scoots closer and extends her hands for me to hold. She didn’t care if anyone was watching, the woman was desperate, and so was I.
That night, I was full of joy and so ecstatic for the relationships I had made and the opportunity to able to hang out with these women. But my heart still breaks as well because there is this one question I have lingering in my mind for God: “God, why not me? Why was it her and not me? What did I do to deserve being born into a family who loved me and could take care of me? Why not me instead of her?” The honest answer is that I didn’t do anything, and I couldn’t do anything, to earn the grace that the Lord has extended me, and it brings me to my knees in gratitude but also with the burden of my new friends. Here is what I do know: I have a responsibility to pray and shake the heavens on my friend’s behalf and to show her the same love and grace that the Lord has shown me. I can do nothing to earn or deserve His love and I can do nothing to keep it. He freely gives and never leaves. The difference between us was not that I have nice things, or no kids, or that I have a supportive family. There is no difference from those women I spent the evening hanging out with and myself- except one thing: for no reason or thing that I could offer, Jesus redeemed me and has me in process, but now their time has come because the Lord is pursuing them just like He also pursues me. Those are my sisters and I believe He is the God who can solve impossible problems and bring healing to incredible brokenness. So if you think about these hurting women, pray for them. They had been though so much; been hurt by men, family, cops, customers. So go find the hurting in your town, whatever that looks like in your area, and bake them cupcakes. God loves them so much, so could we do any less? The Lord has great plans for them, just like He does for you, and can heal their hurts and provide for them. I believe that.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9