If you know me, you likely know that my passions lie in helping others. I am an advocate for victims, a mentor for teen parents, and I speak out against abuse. In more recent years, human trafficking has taken up a huge place in my heart, and I was recently honored to be able to work with a friend and shoot some awareness photos for the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado. The photos were used in a slideshow during their 6th Annual Symposium.
When people think of human trafficking, images of India and Africa and Asia pop into their minds. Our local organization, The Exodus Road, recently put out a book of the same name by Laura Parker (senior vice president) with her husband, Matt Parker (president and founder), which details their own journey into the trenches of sex slavery. It is heartbreaking and inspiring, all at the same time.
If you’re in the area, you should visit them and take a tour of their offices. (Join their Facebook page.)
And you do NOT want to miss the rocks. Go in and ask about the rocks.
So, it’s true — this horrific crime against humanity IS happening over there, but it’s also happening here, in our own backyard. It’s an EVERYWHERE problem, thus the push for awareness. And I’m sharing here because we as artists can take part in the process of awareness by using our time and talents to speak out.
There is also a misconception that when U.S. children and teens (and adults) are trafficked, they are taken off to other countries. The truth is, many are kept right here on our own soil, sometimes in their own states, sometimes in their own cities (or the nearest big city). The prostitutes you look away from? They might be sex slaves, owned by pimps, doing what they are being made to do.
Isn’t that hard to wrap your brain around? What about your heart?
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.” -William Wilberforce
If you didn’t know before, you know now. So the next question is, what will you do to help? Whatever it is, begin now. Someone is waiting for you to take action.
In case you haven’t caught this bit of news anywhere else, my best friend is PREGNANT! Actually, she is due any minute now, so I have officially reached the point where I take my phone to bed with me, something I rarely ever do. I will have the honor (if all works out just right) to document her second daughter’s birth, in addition to just getting to be there to witness this miracle of life. I’m a tad bit excited about this.
Here she is in all her glorious beautifulness –
A quick trip into the grocery store for one item turns into over an hour of listening and advising two friends who want to help a third friend. My heart is already broken from news earlier in the day of a friend’s passing from this world – cancer again. What started out as a beautiful fall morning with a short but invigorating walk quickly turned dark and sad.
I went through the motions of my responsibilities. I slugged through the morning hours, hearing of yet another loss of life, and I felt the pain pierce my heart for a mother’s loss this time, a woman I didn’t know and yet her agony reached invisible lines to imbed itself with the rest. My shoulders felt the weight, and then the Internet went out and I wanted to cry.
And doesn’t that sound silly?
“I’m just so heavy with burdens right now,” I said to my husband. “The Internet is a ridiculous thing to be upset about, but I guess it’s that one thing I feel like I can control, perhaps. That I am allowed to get angry about, because if I’m angry about the Internet, I don’t have to feel all the rest of it.”
I thought the modem was fried, so that is what I went to the store for when I ran into the young ladies who needed advice. And there was such a huge part of me that wanted to run as soon as I realized we weren’t just exchanging pleasantries. “I’m busy! I have to go! Call me!” But there was that other part of me that was too tired already, to burdened to even make the effort to walk on. I resigned myself to listening, and I don’t mean that I was upset or annoyed, but rather I was literally afraid of taking on one more heartbreaking piece of news.
And, of course, it was a heartbreaking piece of news.
When I dragged myself in the door over an hour later, I just sighed at my husband.
And then, it wasn’t the modem after all. Which was good, because it was an expense I couldn’t really afford but would have to in order to work, but it also meant possibly a bigger problem. And so I made the call I didn’t want to make, and within five minutes, I was frustrated beyond belief when the “Unplug the phone cord” part of the procedure began.
“Look,” I said, “I’ve already cycled it through. I’ve done this. It’s not my modem. I’ve been online since 1999 and I know this is a line issue, so I am just asking you to check the status on the lines and send me a tech.”
Yes, I realize how ridiculous I sounded. And how rude. And yes, I’m not proud of myself. To the lady’s credit, she stayed calm and cheerful, which added to how badly I felt. Perhaps I wanted to pick a fight so I could work out my pain, I don’t know, but halfway through the hour-(and one minute!)-long call, I took a deep breath and apologized to her.
“I’m having a terrible day and the Internet isn’t what I’m upset about and I’m sorry I’m taking it out on you. You’ve been very kind and respectful, and I appreciate that. Thank you.”
And just like that, I felt a little better. Because pain doesn’t diminish when we lash out at others; love and kindness matter in all circumstances.
The next evening, I was called out on my first domestic violence scene (I’m a victim advocate). I had just talked with my daughter about my heavy heart, so naturally, I received a call out. It was more of the same – more pain, more sadness, more of something I can’t fix. But then I came home late in the night, watched a short comedy to relax my heart, talked with my husband, and then went to sleep. Today, the alarm didn’t go off so we were running late, and my body wasn’t up for a long walk or run, and all the same pains are still there. But as heavy as it is, life keeps going on, and I with it, and so instead today I am focusing on telling instead of carrying, smiling instead of crying, and loving instead of anger.
When the world is heavy, I hope you too can find your place in the sun.