The Ruby Project Revelation

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Sometimes it is too hard to try and write a polished, pretty blog entry.

So I’ll just wing it. Tonight I went to a showcase put on by a non-profit organization called The Ruby Project. In short, they help young women who have been through abuse, trauma, or other painful things in life get back on their feet. They help these young women realize that they have worth and that they can rise above their circumstances. This showcase ended their weekend retreat and let me just say this: The things The Ruby Project ladies are doing for these girls are amazing.

Tonight I sat in the audience with tears in my eyes as these young girls shared their stories through poetry, dance, and storytelling. Girls who have been through so much for people so young got up and shared stories of being sold into sex trafficking (yup, that happens in the United States boys and girls), of getting into drugs, of being abused by family members or people related to the family. These girls were brave, beautiful, and in love with Jesus. I admire them for their courage and for their willingness to fight against all odds to live a better life.

The thing that really stuck out to me, however, was this: This is what the church is.

My friends, the Church isn’t supposed to be a building you go to on Sunday morning and don’t think about the rest of the week. Church isn’t just a weekly thing. Church isn’t just a place where you learn about the Bible. The Church isn’t supposed to be static and unmoving. The Church is a living thing. It is dynamic. It should penetrate every part of our lives. Why? Because it is the only thing worth living for.

To be the Church is to be a part of the body of Christ. It isn’t to be a member of a ton of people who make an agreement to meet every Sunday. It is to be a living, breathing, dynamic, loving force in the world. The Church is supposed to love each other and love others. We’re supposed to be out doing things and living out the Word.

Yet I find myself sitting, fretting about the future, fretting about grad school or what I’m going to do once I graduate. I get so caught up in what I have to do to get to a place where I can be someone significant, where I can be good enough to really do some good work for the Lord…that I miss out on a beautiful truth:

I have already been called and equipped to do what I need to do. I just need to do it.

Instead of thinking, “once I get a graduate degree I can really start helping people,” or “once I get to a place where I know enough of the Bible and can earn my place in God’s church I can do great things,” I need to accept the fact that I have been called even in my brokenness. Did those girls at the Ruby Project Showcase have it all together? Were they perfect? No. Yet they put their hearts out there, they put their pride on the line, and they let the love of God shine through them.

Where I am deficient, God is sufficient. The more I’m willing to own up to the fact that I have got nothing, the more God gives me. The more I give up and surrender to Him, the more I’m able to love because it isn’t my love coming out…it is God’s.

 

If you would like you support The Ruby Project, please check out their donation page. Your donation will help them with future projects, including next year’s showcase. 

Confessing a Struggle

1st John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

A friend of mine published an amazing book called Struggle Central. In it, he chronicles the various struggles he’s faced in his life so far. He does so boldly and through a series of “confessions” in which he explains his story and the work God has done in his life. God has redeemed my friend, and God has redeemed me. So I have a confession of my own to make:

My name is Katie, and I have struggled with an addiction to pornography for a very long time.

I say “have struggled” because even though I’ve found victory in it, it never ceases to be a struggle. People talking about it, spam links show up in my inbox, sites like tumblr where I can be browsing innocently and suddenly something appears and I have to scroll away as quickly as possible, and the general nature of today’s culture make it a difficult thing to stay away from.

There is no white-knuckling through a pornography addiction in the 21st century when thousands of hours of smut are just a click away.

This post makes me laugh because I was just telling a friend of mine yesterday that I felt like I was going to be called to write a blog post that I was not going to like writing…and I was sure right (as I sit here feeling convicted at 1am to write this). This confession makes me deeply uncomfortable, no matter how many times I’ve confessed it. I have even confessed it to a room full of my peers and professors during chapel, and writing it in this blog still makes me nervous. There is a dark part of me that winces whenever light is shone upon this particular issue, but I bring it up because I think it is important to start a dialogue about it.

For too long I have gone to churches where the pastor stands on a stage, tells the congregation that pornography is bad, and tells them they have to repent or else they are hurting themselves and everyone around them. The intent behind the meessage is good, but I think it is the method that scares people even more. As the church (to generalize, of course there are always exceptions) we have induced shame instead of creating an environment for healing. We’ve boxed up the issue and have put a big “just don’t do it” sticker on the front without actually addressing the contents of the box.

The church often fails to address the loneliness, the pain, the emptiness, the lust, and ultimately the hole that people are trying to fill when they view pornography.

It took me six years to confess it to someone because the shame I felt, magnified by the messages I was getting from the church, crippled me and kept me from speaking out. As an 18 year old I was scared out of my mind to confess that I struggled with pornography because all my life it had been made into the big bag wolf and I sure wasn’t going to admit to associating with a villain.

I felt scared instead of safe, alienated instead of welcome. Even to this day when I struggle, the old doubts pop into my head and the shame comes roaring out and I find myself pulling away and nursing the wound because admitting the struggle means admitting that I’ve somehow failed and that brings me shame.

I have a feeling I will write more on the topic as time goes on, because it is a topic I have long felt called to discuss. As a woman, as a Christian, and as a struggler I have a lot of personal experience with this particular vice and if my personal experience can bring someone healing, then I am all for sharing. It still scares me, it makes me nervous to wonder what my family will think, or what the friends I have never told will think, but I also think it is important to be open and honest so that others can feel comfortable being open and honest.

After all, it was my friend Tom’s honesty through his book that inspired me to write this post in the first place.

Feel free to post any thoughts you have in the comments below. I want to facilitate a discussion, not just preach at people. 

If you are interested in more from Thomas Mark Zuniga, author of Struggle Central, feel free to check out his blog.