“Once you know what it takes to live a better story, you don’t have a chance. Not living a better story would be like deciding to die.”
Our friend Dana Welty shared this quote from Donald Miller. My first thought was my own journey some 20 years ago. I started therapy completely ignorant of what was ahead. Beginning to work on my own stuff was difficult. I began to confront parts of myself that are not pretty. Because I had not seen those parts, I had not owned the good parts either. The things I knew about myself were superficial. The next step was to learn how I had been on this earth for 42 years without having a clue who I was. As I began to own who I was and how I got there, I started to change habits.
I remember saying that I thought everyone else had the rules except me. I stayed around folks who had already walked this path and I learned from their experience. I also went to groups that had recorded others’ experiences and I realized I really didn’t have “the rules.” I tried out new things to see how I felt internally and to see how other people reacted to my new way of living. It was so hard! I feared losing the others in my life because they might not welcome my changes. My insides often felt queasy, afraid I’d make more mistakes and not be accepted by the new people in my life.
Once the experience was underway, I told my priest / mentor that I would never have started if I had known how painful it would be. He smiled and told me it was God’s grace that I didn’t know. Most of the women engaging in prostitution would prefer to leave that lifestyle. Some of the things the women say would help them do that are: a safe place to live; job training; health care; support; self-defense training; and legal assistance. We assist with these things, yet we see relapse. While we all want to live the best life we can, it is scary to go through the process to achieve it. They are having to learn the rules just like I did.
The women we serve may rail at us or even relapse but it will never be the same if they return to the streets. They’ve seen a glimpse of a different life. They must find their own compelling reason to persevere. And the grace of God.