I want to address this blog to the survivors who are newly out of the life and not sure where they're stepping yet. To the survivor who is out, but on a roller coaster of highs, lows, and insecurities. To the survivors who understand how faith works and the ones who don't.
I'm talking to the people of faith here, all the ones who know: for the people who wonder and the people who HOPE that somebody is listening.
This is the story of how I built my faith early on, exiting the life, and trying to get my footing in a completely foreign world. It was like I was in Rome and I was doing my best to act Roman and fit in with the natives, but in actuality, my dress, my mannerisms, my language, my thinking, my understanding, and everything about me was more at home in another galaxy. Nevertheless, I tried and took heed of a piece of advice someone once gave me: Act as if! Fake it till you make it!
And since all my game plans had failed me, I decided to throw myself into this role of high moral Christianity all the way. I went into it wholeheartedly, taking on the role: role-playing is something I had done before!
In my church, the sacrament of communion is a ritual reenactment of Jesus's Last Supper where he instructs his followers to eat broken bread and drink wine or water in remembrance of his promises he kept to us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross. It was at the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross that he showed us that he knew all of our pain and that he could bear it for us. So in the exchange of bread and a sip of water, I gave him my trust. I gave him a promise back...
My promise each week was that I would not sell my body and I would not allow anyone else to sell my body for any reason. Somehow, I trusted Jesus that he would provide—that for the next week, with no selling of my flesh, I would have a roof over my head, food on my table, and a safe place to be. There is no peace or happiness without security.
That was my covenant, my own promise to God from myself.
Somehow, not only did I have the bare minimum, I had my own house. An adorable little blue house with wood floors, trees in the yard, and even a cat. I worked a call center job I had to take the bus to and was not making enough to pay rent, utilities, and food, yet somehow each month all those amenities and blessings were met and taken care of.
I remember once when I was destitute (again) and I got a doorbell-ditch. The bell rang and when I opened the door, there were paper hearts taped to the windows and doors with messages of love and encouragement, and a fifty-pound bag of cat food—my immediate necessity for my sweet pet!!—on my step. This blessing came after someone at church heard me joke that I was ready to stand by the freeway entrance holding a cardboard sign that said WILL WORK FOR CAT FOOD!
It was a joke, but it was my need and my real worry at the time and some kind soul took it seriously enough to be God's hands for that moment.
I know that real evil exists and can seem overwhelming for new faith.
I know that are wars in the world and people who say, "where is God for those that suffer?" This question is an old philosophy question and it's a hard one. There are no easy answers, but I know there can be a comfort. I have felt it. I know that it sounds trivial that God cares about my cat, but after a dear friend's teenage son just passed away from a long illness, it seemed unfair to have faith in God. During this time, something I learned is that one way to avoid the bitterness of the sad situations where God seems to let us down is to think of the ways in which he doesn't and to think of the different ways he works through mere mortal individuals. For example, if people want to have a war, he won't stop them, but he might bless someone who suffers because of it, especially when they ask and stand ready to receive comfort.
God will not force anything. If we let him in, I have faith he will come in. It may not be the way we expect, but God is ready to meet us where we are if we're willing to do the work to meet him.
Of course, when I took on this role playing scenario I made lots of changes in my life. I became a lay minister, visiting the women I was assigned to and doing what my church leaders asked me to do to serve others. I took on a low-paying regular-life job. I quit hanging out with people (both in person and online) I knew could drag me back down.
Most importantly though was the meeting I had every week during communion—a sacrament between myself and God. I showed up every week because I knew I had to recommit my life to him. And when I recommitted my life to him every week, he showed up too. This step of faith was important to me.
One week at church I sat next to someone I had not sat by before. She was younger than me and had been born into the faith. She said to me, "You shouldn't take this sacrament since you haven't been baptized yet. I mean you CAN it won't hurt anything, but it can't MEAN anything to you...." She expressed this to me because it is what she had been taught. As she held out the tray containing the bread, I looked in her eyes and said, "You have no idea how much this means to me." I had built a testimony of faith and had seen it work in my life.
I kept coming on Sundays.
I have since been baptized and I continue to take the sacrament. And each week I make the covenant once again to not sell my body. Imagine how that covenant has grown; not only do I have a place to stay, but it is a safe house for others too. I have security. I have food on the table and I still have my cat.
Life is good and I have faith that it will only get better!
Laurin Crosson is the founder and director of Rockstarr Ministries. She runs a safe house and specializes in assisting in escape for victims still under pimp control. Laurin is a proud graduate of RBI and is grateful for their ongoing support.