Friends, I’ve been overwhelmed in the best way by the response to my original blog, Bunnies, Virgins and Real Men. You all are amazing!! I can’t tell you how many have asked how they can help. We’ve had suggestions of other ways of raising money to help Katherine Stone’s family. One pastor and his wife offered their own home for however long it takes. Others have committed to pray for both Katherine and Dennis. We actually sent the blog to them separately. We haven’t gotten any response, but we wanted to make sure we did everything we could to get it in front of them.
I’m not even sure what to say or how to begin. I’ve gone from shock, to anger and horror, to having an uncontrollable urge to vomit as I watch the depravity of the human soul on full display. I’ve seen some things in the last 2 years that I’ve been working with Stripped Free. Things I wish I could erase from my mind. I’ve seen the demoralization and degradation of human beings. I’ve seen souls shattered and beaten down over and over again. I’ve seen a twisted and horrifying version of a “savior complex” that has left me shaking my head in disbelief. I’ve seen the depths people will go to in order to try to erase past pain and humiliation only to experience deeper levels of shame than they ever anticipated. I’ve seen the worth of a soul reduced to a dollar in some of the darkest environments imaginable. But I’ve never seen anything quite like this………
I want to grow. It’s not possible to just stay at the same place, so I’m always moving whether I recognize it or not. It’s more a matter of what direction I’m moving and growing? Am I growing closer to my Heavenly Father or further away from Him? Do I desire Him more today than I did yesterday or less? Am I seeking His Face or settling just to seek His hand and what He can do for me?
Can a woman in ministry experience a year of stripping? Should she even say such a thing or talk about a subject so controversial? As I sit here at my computer during the month of March 2015, I can without a doubt say, Yes, 2014 was my year of stripping. I’m sure I’ll get a few choice comments about this like I do every blog I’ve written about the Stripped Free Ministry and going into the strip clubs in Indianapolis to minister to the women there, but I hope you’ll continue to read on to make a very important discovery with me. I had no idea when Stripped Free launched back in April of 2014 that God was not only going to do a work in the lives of the women in the clubs we were going to meet, but He was going to do the biggest work in my own heart and life along the way. You see, Stripped Free is not just about the women inside the clubs, it’s about all women and that has become very clear to me over the past few months.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
Do you have things in your past that you want to forget? I know I do. Poor choices, painful circumstances and tragic loss are just a few of the things we all experience that we would rather forget. But what about the pieces of our past that were joyful and brought great pleasure to our lives? The good old’ days as some like to call them. Do you want to forget those?
I find it interesting that Paul says there is one very important thing he does: he forgets. He forgets or neglects the things of the past and instead he pursues or chases the goal ahead. For many of us, it’s hard to let go of the past no matter how good or how tough it was. I know there are events that will always be lodged in our memoires, but I believe Paul is talking about dwelling in the past.
Where are we living? Are our eyes focused on the failures or successes of yesterday or on God and what He is doing today? God doesn’t want us living in the sorrows or the joys of yesterday. We each have a life that is worth living right now. He has something special for us in this current moment, but many of us are missing it because we are so focused on our past.
Both the triumphs and the tragedies of yesterday are done. There’s no going back. We must press on in this new year. There is too much life yet to live and I don’t want to miss any of it, so let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and what He is doing today in our lives. He is working and moving this very day and has a glorious plan for all of us!
Let’s Connect On Twitter: @KimTabor @StrippedFree
Periodically I will have different people guest blogging for me. God has allowed my path to cross with some amazing individuals and I want you to hear what He’s been doing in their lives. This is my friend and ministry partner, Stefanie Jeffers. Let’s Connect On Twitter: @KimTabor @StrippedFree @stefjeff1107
“I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night – but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” Psalm 139:11-12
To many, the dark is a frightening place. Darkness blinds our eyes to that which surrounds us and hides our path from us. But for some, the darkness becomes a solitary place of existence where neither good nor evil seem to permeate; instead it seems timeless, even as days and weeks and years go by.
I once attempted to live my life in the duality of both light and dark. In the light, I was with my daughter. I was myself a daughter, an aunt, and a sister. There were times of love and laughter. But just beyond the light were the shadows of the life I lived in the dark. I would remove the cross necklace from around my neck and turn away from the light. In this dark place I was whoever someone wanted me to be. I was a stripper, a prostitute, a fantasy; I was Carmen or I was Stefanie, and in the darkness the line between the two blurred.
Why, then, did I not run towards all that was lovely and full of light? Where in the darkness did I lose so much of myself that it became home? And once you are gone, lost in the dark, how can you ever find your way home? Please understand this about me and many other women who are in similar situations all over the world…there is often comfort in the darkness. In a world without light, there is relief in the belief that you cannot be seen. In dark places, there is no more expectation placed on shoulders that can barely bear the burdens of surviving the day. If there is no expectation, there is no failure. In the dark you can fool yourself into believing that you are courageous, though fear is the major force that drives you. It becomes what you know, and there is always comfort in that which is familiar. Hope is not an option because it is always followed by disappointment.
“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
There is, however, hope. There are moments in this ministry when this hope is received with the urgency of one who hasn’t had something to drink in years. It is so beautiful to see light begin to dawn in someone’s eyes when they realize they are loved by Jesus. There is laughter and tears, triumphs and disappointments, and love and forgiveness when we journey with a woman who chooses the Light. There are also times of great sadness when we see someone turn away from the gift of grace over and over again. Our hearts break when we see someone we love retreat back into the comfort of darkness, fearful of all that the light both promises and exposes.
And still, we will go. We have been called to be carriers of Light into dark places and we have faith in the God of the universe that nothing is impossible and no one is too far gone for His saving grace. We are learning to love like He loves; knowing that to truly love someone where they are at means sometimes watching them travel back into the darkness while still holding their hand, standing still with the ones who can’t believe, and continuing the slow journey towards Jesus with those who are ready.
“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” John 12:46