For a while now I’ve been noticing a major uptick in the reporting of stories about child sex trafficking or child sex abuse and exploitation. At first, as I’d happen upon the, sometimes terribly graphic, stories of these victims, I'd get only a few sentences in...maybe as much as a couple paragraphs, and need to turn away.
The horror and trauma that these little kids suffered, and continue to suffer, overwhelmed me and drown me in sadness. The heinousness of it all...I felt sooo helpless. Lacking the access or an avenue for physically stepping in to alter the circumstances of these little souls; it made reading their stories unbearable for me and left me feeling heavily hopeless.
But something's changed! Sometime, over the last few weeks, I’ve gone from feeling that awful overwhelmed, hopeless, helpless feeling to extremely ANGRY!! And I'm not just a little mad either...I’m wildly enraged!
It feels like a fire's been ignited inside me and I can’t just read bits and pieces of heartbreaking, stomach churning stories anymore. I can't wade into the grizzly truth and then wade back out and try to shake off the clinging dark sludge so I can jump back into my role, as mother, to my 4 kids and back into my comfortable middle class, American life, where these sorts of atrocities don't exist. I just CAN'T anymore!
I have no doubt that my "awakening" is connected to the season of life that I'm in; raising my sweet kids and trying with all my might to keep them healthy (spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally) and safe; away from the sorts of evils that crave twisted things and would love to exploit my children...and your children. I imagine my children with each of the terribly tragic accounts I read and I feel even more sick and compelled to action.
There have been many, many moments through the years where I've wished I could reach through time and space to rescue hurting people. I imagine we all have those impulses towards the hurting and towards causes that tug at our hearts. But this one...this reaches notable heights. I've felt a similar level of craving for justice only a couple of times before. One specific time also paralleled a season of my life: pregnancy. I felt a sorrow and heavy burden for children while pregnant each time, but mostly heavily through my second pregnancy.
While I was pregnant with my daughter, Mia, we lived down the street from an abortion clinic and nearly every errand I needed to run required me to pass that building. Often picketers were there, standing on the sidewalk, in front of the clinic with graphic, gory signs depicting the dismemberment of tiny babies. I’d wait at the street light in tears, willing that red light to turn green while feeling my little life, my tiny baby, moving inside me. The light never turned fast enough!
Anger towards the people who'd bring and display those horrific signs, assaulting the general public; innocent bystanders (children included) with awful, heartbreaking photos, might feel like an appropriate response. And yes, the pictures ABSOLUTELY felt assaulting and they felt like too much to handle...too much to know and FAR TOO MUCH to see, but the absence of signs and pictures doesn't change reality. Shielding my eyes doesn’t alter the truth. It doesn't make it pleasant, it doesn’t make it pretty. It doesn't turn death into life or wrong to right, EVER!
Do I wish I could forget those grotesque images, YES!! Desperately, yes! But more than that...I feel an ache and a drive to fight for life; for the lives of the ones who can't fight for themselves: the babies. Do I sympathize with the mothers who have, and are, making complicated (VERY complicated) and difficult choices for what they imagine will better their own lives?? YES, God, yes!! I can’t even count the number of times I’ve thought to myself, "Thank God I didn't get pregnant before I got married!!" Truthfully, I would have rather dabbled with the idea of ending the life of my unborn baby than confess a pregnancy to my parents. I know this is only one, out of maybe a million, reasons a person might consider abortion, but how disturbingly easy would it have been for me to just make it all disappear and pretend none of it had ever happened??
As a mother, pregnant many times over, I’ve felt thousands upon thousands of tiny movements within me. EACH bulge was literally part of a tiny body: an arm, an elbow, a knee, a heel, a bum. Having felt all of this; having experienced the brilliance of life growing inside of me, the thought of bringing it to an intentional end now fills me with unimaginable sadness.
With each sensation of in utero baby hiccups, with each ultrasound and heartbeat check and eventual, PAINFUL but miraculous, delivery, beautiful LIFE was boldly on display. I know that not every pregnancy springs from a love story and regardless of the presence or absence of love, not every pregnancy is joyous...I’ve been there. But ending...killing a tiny human life, this can’t be our first or even last option. Acceptance of this option, or even mere pacifism, is eroding our humanity, mine included.
I know that through this post I’m wadding into some very turbulent and murky waters. These are HEAVY issues that carry deep emotions for people on both sides. There are many, many worthy causes world wide; causes that deserve crusaders with passion and vision and a battle cry; champions who can unify hearts for a common good and work to awaken and sharpen the collective conscience of a nation...of our world.
For me, these two issues, the issue of child sex slavery and abuse and abortion, call to me the loudest. They hold positions of prominence in my mind and in my heart. They're what I see as being two of the top social injustices of our day. A war rages against our littlest and most vulnerable members. One of these causes, we're pretty well in agreement over (as a society)...but as for the other, we're sadly, very divided. These are causes that as a culture, nation and world, we must fight for.
I’m so thankful that our nation is waking up to the evils of child sex trafficking. Yes, I wish desperately that we/I didn’t need this awakening, that these evils didn’t exist and that our world was a safe place for children, both born and unborn.
But the weight of these abuses aren’t burdening me anymore, they’re propelling me to action. I don’t know yet what this ‘need to act’ is going to end up looking like for me or my family. But I know that there’s something I need to do...there’s something I’m meant to be doing!!
I know I'm coming a little late to the fight. But I'm here now!
I need to confess that I was TERRIFIED about saying all this so boldly and about putting myself, my thoughts and my convictions on display. I feel VERY exposed. I imagine there will be some (maybe many) who won't be happy with my words.
I bought myself a ring the other day. The message inscribed on it says, "I am fearless". Quite truthfully, I struggle with fear and anxiety and a longing to be accepted and approved of...but this ring, it challenges me to be fearless and even though I feel fear often, I'm close to someone who never, EVER does. I'm reminded that "Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world" 1 John 4:4. I can be fearless because I AM is fearless!!
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.