What God Taught Me Through Dressember
Freedom. If you're an American, how often do you think about that word? What does it mean to you?
Here in the States, we place a high value on freedom, choice, and independence. We like to choose everything -- from where we live, where we receive an education, what we eat, when we eat, right on down to the clothing we wear. But what if all your choices suddenly vanished? What if you could choose nothing for yourself, especially what you wore or how you presented yourself?
There are millions of women all over the world who have no choice over their lives.
They are not allowed to choose their line of work, where they live, what they eat, or what they wear. They have no control over their schedules, their limited possessions, or even over their own bodies. They are trapped in slavery, trafficked away from their homes, families, and any hope of personal freedom. They work long days and nights, giving up their bodies, freedom, and dignity for the fleeting pleasure of others, with no hope of rescue.
Sex trafficking. It’s an ugly, horrific industry taking over the world, including our own country. It’s an unpleasant topic of discussion. We don’t want to face it. We would rather stay in our cozy bubbles of personal freedom, choice, and comfort than face the reality that there are others just like us who endure each day stripped of control over their lives. I don’t know about you, but coming face to face with this global issue has ignited a desire to do something.
One small thing I did recently was participate in an event called Dressember. This month-long event is promoted by the International Justice Mission every December. The premise of the event is those who choose to participate wear nothing but dresses for the entire month, in order to raise awareness and funds for anti-trafficking efforts. As a lover of all things comfy, it was a stretch for me to give up my jeans and sweatshirts for an entire month in favor of dresses and tights. Most mornings I stood in front of my closet, staring longingly at the cozy sweaters and jeans that tempted me.
[pullquote width="300" float="left"]As a lover of all things comfy, it was a stretch for me to give up my jeans and sweatshirts for an entire month in favor of dresses and tights.[/pullquote]
But then God would bring to mind the faces I had seen in Thailand and Cambodia through my missions work. Those sweet faces of the girls standing outside karaoke bars and restaurants, dressed in skimpy clothing and waiting for customers to come and pick them. The young girls who simultaneously look provocative and terrified as they wait for men to buy them for an hour, knowing that they can either perform or receive a beating. The Lord would bring to mind the women I haven’t yet met from Guatemala, the Philippines, and Thailand who are still trapped in this lifestyle. The women that He has called me to go and bring the healing and freedom He offers to on a six-month journey of women’s ministry.
With their faces fresh in my mind, I would resolutely reach for my dress and choose discomfort for the sake of those who have no choices.
One of the biggest lessons I learned during Dressember was how ridiculously blessed I am with freedom of choice. I have the freedom to choose my wardrobe, food, living situation, and more. And most importantly, I have freedom to choose Christ. But I don't want to just abide contentedly in my freedom; I want to share my freedom, and the resources that come with it, with women around the world. Every time I put on a dress during Dressember, I was reminded of how much Jesus longs for freedom for all of His daughters. I was reminded of why God called me to go back out on the mission field for another six months, to proclaim freedom over the captives around the world who are caught in trafficking, abusive situations, sin, and shame.
Whenever I put on a dress, I was reminded to pray for all the women around the world who have no choice or freedom in their lives, much less in their clothing options.
I know you likely haven’t come face to face with the brokenness and ugliness of sex trafficking. But that doesn’t mean God can’t break your heart for the women trapped in it. His desire is to raise up sons and daughters willing “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty for the captives, and the opening of prison to those who are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1b)
Could you be one of those daughters whose heart breaks for what breaks His?
Consider getting involved with awareness events like Dressember or the End It movement. Or volunteer with a local ministry like Out of Darkness in Atlanta, GA or Hookers for Jesus in Las Vegas, NV or one of the ministries near you. I guarantee there is likely at least one close to where you live. You can also donate to organizations like International Justice Mission, who are working to stop trafficking and rescue and restore the women trapped in it. There are a plethora of opportunities to get involved in the fight to end slavery once and for all. At the very least, you can always pray!
Our Jesus has a heart that breaks for these women, because He has created us with the freedom of choice. We are meant to live in spiritual, emotional, and physical freedom, and to glorify God in our freedom.
You have been blessed with that freedom. You have been blessed with choice. So what are you going to choose to do with your freedom?
// main photo by lauren denny + photo strip courtesy of vallory moss