AMSTERDAM RLD: BELOVED ONE

Hey, you, up there.

Yes, you.

I see you. I hear you knocking on the glass. I see your barely-dressed body. I feel your desire to be wanted, to be loved.

Oh, beloved one, why can’t I get you out of my mind?

There you are up there, knocking on the glass that separates us. Your desperate attempts to catch the attention of the men below are failing. And my attempts to lock eyes with you are failing, too, because you won’t look at me. None of you will. No matter where I go or what red light district I’m running through, it’s full of people. Men shopping, women seducing, but your eyes won’t meet mine.

Beloved one, please know I’m not looking into your eyes to judge. Rather, I’m looking into your eyes to love. I want you to know that I see you. I acknowledge you for the beautiful, created being you are. I know you’re full of potential and have the right to live a life of dignity, a life that’s built on respect.

You are loved by me. You are loved by the Creator. You’re worth loving and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

I want you to know that you matter to me. I want you to know you’re not a “prostitute.” Oh no, beloved one, that is not who you are. You have been beautifully created in the image of a faithful, loving God. You have intrinsic worth within you no matter what others say or do to you.

Oh yes, you, up there.

I don’t know what you did to get such an inconvenient spot, but you’ve captured my attention and my heart. I can see the smudges and hear the knocking now.

Run to Him, beloved one. Run and knock on His door. He will surely answer you and embrace you with loving arms. Arms that are safe and will not bring harm. Arms that protect and will not exploit. Arms that are unfailing and will never let you go. Arms that will hold you so tight you’ll forget what the loose embrace of the world feels like. He’s a safe place for you unlike the glass that’s shielding you from the street below.

Run to Him, beloved one, and knock on His door. You will not regret it - I can promise you that. You won’t regret it because you’ll experience life in its fullness the moment you run through His door and He embraces you in those loving arms of His.

Run, beloved one, run.

 

 

AMSTERDAM RLD

She was on the second floor, not one of the lucky ones on the street-level. I could see smudges on the window left behind from her attempts to capture the attention of men below. I could hear her knocking on the glass. I could see her dancing in the window. But I couldn’t see her eyes because she wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I stood and watched this particular woman for quite some time. I think there was something about the fact she wasn’t down with the others. She was a little more isolated and the men didn’t seem to respond to her attempts to lure them upstairs. She intrigued me because she had to work harder than the rest.

She was like hundreds of other women we saw. They were provocatively posed behind glass doors. Some looking more interested in this whole gig than others, but all working hard to get a client.

Thousands of men were carelessly “window shopping” for a woman to pleasure them. There were men of all ages, shapes, sizes, and races. You could tell the majority were nervous, slightly unsure, but ready to give it a whirl as soon as they found the perfect woman.

Live porn shows, sex shops, “coffee shops” (aka weed cafes), bars, and strip clubs - everything imaginable lined these streets. Everything one would need to fill a desire or to make he or she brave enough to act on it was in sight.

And then there were the churches.

Nestled in the heart of the red light district, closed. Now a tourist attraction or some sort of business, but the beautiful, old buildings were in sight and a reminder of what once was. These beautiful, old buildings are in the women’s direct line of sight. It’s what they see when they look out their glass doors – a closed church. A beautiful, old building representing what once was.

I want to know where the people went? Where did the church go? Why did they abandon an area like this?

As we walked through the narrow streets, I could only utter “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” for the longest time. These women looked like my friends and people I know, which was a little shocking. As we walked by and time passed, I began to find the words to speak to God. I also took my hand and ran it across their doors because even if they wouldn’t look at me, I wanted them to know I saw them.

They were so beautiful and I wanted nothing more than to cup their face in my hands and tell them how much they’re worth. I wanted to speak life and value over their hearts and their souls. I knew I couldn’t so I asked God to do that as we walked by. I don’t know their stories. I’m not sure if they are there by force or by choice, but I know one thing: they were created for more.  

These women of the night were created to be women of The Light.

I’d love to go back to this quaint little city where beauty abounds and the darkness overshadows. I know Jesus is there. He’s working. He’s moving. He’s redeeming. He’s restoring. I want to partner with Him in it all.  

I can’t get this city off my heart. I can’t get these beautiful women out of my mind - especially the one on the second floor who was working harder than the rest. So, I’m praying and waiting with a longing heart and curious mind, asking God to give me direction and open doors to be involved. 

They need to know how valuable they are. They have to know. 

DO YOU KNOW HOW PRIVILEGED YOU ARE?

 

Privilege: n., a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others- Merriam Webster Dictionary

I do not consider myself a privileged person. I’m a twenty two year old office manager living in Brooklyn. Most of my salary goes towards rent and paying down student loans. My apartment is modest and my spending carefully budgeted. I feel like I know what privilege is. Privilege is The Real Housewives of Wherever. Or the well dressed lady I see walking out of her Park Ave apartment into a waiting car. Privilege looks nothing like me. And yet….

I know how to read. Roughly one in ten women don’t.1 If knowledge is power, then the ability to read is the key to the engine. How is anyone supposed to lift themselves out of poverty if they can’t read their own name or keep their own business records?

Second, I can practice whatever religion I want, or practice no religion at all, which is more than can be said for millions of people around the world. If I had been born in Iran, Sudan, or Afghanistan I could be killed by the government for expressing my religious beliefs, or any religious beliefs at all.Even many countries that by law allow freedom of religion do not adequately protect their citizens from religion-related hate crimes. A government that gives its citizens the right to practice the religion of their choosing but does not prosecute offenders who attack others based on their religious beliefs, is no safer than a government killing its citizens themselves.

These are just two examples, but the list of privileges I have seems to grow every time I think about it. I make over $40,000 per year while a quarter of the world lives on less than $2 per day.3 I trust my local law enforcement to protect, not exploit me. I have access to the medication I need to survive. I’ve never wondered where my next meal would come from.

Although I’ve worked hard to get where I am, I have to recognize that so much of the life I lead is due to pure circumstance. I am no better, no smarter, no more deserving of privilege than a woman of the same age who lives in India or Bangladesh or Afghanistan. I feel what can perhaps be best described as survivors guilt. This guilt coupled with a love for my fellow human beings motivates me to seek change in the world. But what can one girl do to effect change in a world so full of brokenness?

I do my best to use my privilege to help others and I would encourage anyone who is reading this to do the same. It can take many forms. Perhaps you set up a recurring donation to a cause you feel passionate about. Or maybe you volunteer your time to help an organization that works to give others the basic rights you take for granted. Or even use your talents to work for a non-profit. It’s your call, but a call that should not be ignored. As Voltaire wrote, “All people are equal, it is not birth, it is virtue alone that makes the difference.”


So I challenge you to make a difference by using the privilege that you never asked for, to privilege those who never had a chance to ask.

 

Written by: Tahlia Prindle 

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(1) http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/jun/17/literacy-women-illiteracy-development

(2) http://iheu.org/you-can-be-put-death-atheism-13-countries-around-world/

(3) http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/resources/fastfacts_e.htm

 

THE LOVE WITHIN

I used to be a people pleaser (and it can still be a struggle!). It’s a downside of my personality. Because of this, I also used to try to please God. I did all the “right things.” I read my Bible, went to church, prayed, and was involved in many small groups and mission trips, but it seemed like I was constantly dealing with the ups and downs of life. One day, I finally hit rock bottom. I became angry and bitter towards God and basically gave him an ultimatum: prove to me you exist or I’ll walk away. And I did. I walked away for several months. During that time, my life fell apart. I became even more angry and believed I had nothing left to live for. My life was at an all time low and God had forsaken me. He was nowhere to be found. 

But then, on the day I ended my marriage, God came to my rescue. I had pretty much destroyed myself and many relationships at this point. My life consisted of nothing but brokenness. On one of the most lonely, painful nights etched in my memory - for whatever reason (GOD!) - I picked up the book, Crazy Love. My soon-to-be ex-husband had dropped it off earlier with some of my belongings. I read it in a matter of hours and I was wrecked… in the best way possible. The way it talked about God’s love for me cut me to the core. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was worthy to be loved. 

I knew that if I was loved with an unconditional love, I should love others in the same way. If I could be found worthy of love - even after all the terrible things I had done - anyone else certainly could be to. I knew the first person that deserved to be loved by me, the person who was worth fighting for, was my husband. I picked up the phone and texted him. The next morning, we met for brunch and while it was still very rocky, it was my first step towards healing. 

Over time, with lots of counseling and healing delivered to me by the grace of Jesus, I recovered. We both did. Through this process, Jesus showed me His unconditional love and made it known that I was worthy to receive it. He showed me that I was in bondage, being held in captivity by lies. He pointed out my chains and helped me to break them. He showed me that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. He showed me that He has always walked with me and has never once forsaken me like I believed he had. He showed me that He is perfect and His timing is perfect. He showed me that He is trustworthy. 

He deserves my love and devotion. He deserves my life. 

And so, 3 ½  years later, I look nothing like that old person. A new life was given to me that night and a new person has been born. The funny thing is that He answered my “ultimatum.” He proved He existed, but it looked nothing like I wanted it to. He allowed me to be broken to the point of having nothing left. He allowed me to come to the end of myself so I could see who He is and who I am not. 

He is the Lord, master, ruler of my life. He is Adonai. 
I am His child. His daughter. 

Now, I joyfully surrender my life to Him. I want to fulfill my purpose and calling here on earth. My calling is to help others discover their true identity in Christ. As a result, my passion is ending human trafficking because no other injustice affects identity the way human trafficking does. It is this injustice that allows one person to own another. It’s this injustice that strips away a person’s name and replaces it with a number, wiping out who they are as a human being. 

That leaves me here, starting this blog and advocating on behalf of others. It’s been a process full of twists, turns, and unexpected bumps in the road to get here, but He has been the constant. As best I have known how, I’ve tried to be obedient to Him and His Word. I’m trying to glorify Him with my life because I’ve discovered life lived without Him isn’t really a life at all. He is the giver of life and fulfiller of our desires.

By walking closely with Jesus and trusting Him with all I’ve got, He has revealed a beautiful truth in my life: 

When passion and calling collide, life happens. 

Life is beautiful when Jesus is in the middle of it. Your identity is found in Christ alone so claim it for yourself and live in freedom. Walk confidently in who you are. You are His beloved.

If my story can tell you anything, I hope it's that the Love within is where life begins.