Celebrations – a different lens

There are many loses that one experiences as a victim/ survivor of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child ( Sex Trafficking). There are many long lasting traumatic effects that may take a long time to heal, recover, and in effect a community must come around a person to provide care and help she or he know that life is not like it was then. Many people do not have families to go back to, that would welcome them in or homes to welcome them into and in many ways feel like outsiders.  The question really is how can you respond in a real way.

As a girl- a child,  who was sexually exploited – denied some of the most basic dignity and rights. One of the many children who were Commercially Sexually Exploited as a Child, by a family member; there are certain things that come with this time of year that may not be present for everyone. There are days, seasons and times of year that honestly just are painful. The remembrances of what happened during times of the year that were supposed to be celebrations but turned into exploitation.

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I recently finished reading, again, by a well known author focusing on celebration and also, trying to create a habit or pattern of thankfulness all year and not just during November. It is good to be thankful, for the small things, for the big things it rewires our brains from all of the trauma, all of the pain, all of the suffering that happened day in and day out. We can create new neuropathways in our brains to help our thinking be rewired from the constant thinking of pain and evil.  I still will often anticipate people to leave, fail me, hurt me because honestly they often have, but learning these new neuropathways helps to create new thinking and ways of living.

In regard to the celebrations, the parties, the holidays, it is just hard and painful sometimes. So yes, some of us, especially those of us that may have been sold by our families; the holidays are not so fun, so joyful, so wonderful. I can’t imagine what it would be like to think back and remember that time when you were ten and …. ( include happy childhood memory here).

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So once again maybe, I would suggest that your holiday celebrations, from weeks before to weeks after, may include the person whose life was not the best. (from the exploited child, to the foster child, to those who are experiencing homelessness, etc). Maybe they do not have the decorations up or know all of the fun traditions. Maybe they do not have anywhere to go. Maybe if we really believed in the Kingdom of God more than just words, more than a place to go on Sunday or some nice songs to sing – it will change how we act towards those whose lives who have experienced pain, and suffering.

What if there really was an extra seat at the table for people who have been exploited, who had suffered, or who have no one. If we really believed that “{God} is a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families” Ps 67:5-6a. I wonder how will this happen if people like you and I do not rise up and welcome people into our communities, our homes, our lives. Maybe we can live for one another regardless of who we are and welcome each other. It would really be a reason to give thanks if we could instill the God’s image into one another and help people see themselves as God does this season.

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