I feel called to prepare for ministry...

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Two weeks from today, 9 months and 4 days after I graduated Refuge for Women, I leave my position in rural Wisconsin as barn manager and spiritual mentor to a tribe of incredible teenagers to rejoin the world as a 28 year old college freshmen at a well known, highly competitive bible college in downtown Chicago. As an extroverted, fast-paced, competitive and people adoring woman, with a passion for ministry and biblical scholarship, I am over the moon excited. However, as one who struggles with a fear of failure, battles with turning over control when I feel scared, and trusting my savior in the unknown; entering a space where my identity, as one whom God pulled out of sexual exploitation and called into ministry, will need to be re-exposed to new people and risking potential rejection is kind of freaking me out. I am so grateful that, although I will need to go through the uncomfortableness of being vulnerable with new people, going to Chicago is also going home to my Refuge family who sees me and knows me in a way that allows me to be most myself.

School has always been something I’ve been gifted in, academia tends to come easy to me. Nonetheless, it is also an area in my life I have repeatedly run from when I’ve failed to live up to my own standards or when life’s circumstances and the enemies lies seemed too daunting to face. While going back now still presents with opportunity for failure, I no longer find my value in my achievements or the perceptions of others. I can go into this bright opportunity and know that my best is enough even if my best isn’t want I WANT it to be. 

Mostly, I’m 70% thrilled. Though it is definitely bittersweet. I’m leaving my first ministry position at a place that was God’s provision of a home and family for me when I left Refuge after graduation. These people took a chance on me and I love them and the teenagers I serve so so deeply. Leaving them and walking into the life and big world God is calling me to hurts, even though I know it is exactly in line with His will for my life. I’m going to miss them more than I ever thought I would and plan to cover the walls of my dorm room with their sweet faces. God knew what he was doing when He sent me here. (Go figure) I now can’t imagine a life where I’m not loving on and pouring into teenage girls. While I’m eager to move on into this new time of learning and pursuing my passions, I find confidence in that I am taking these relationships and how they have grown me into this next season.


Beating the Odds

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I had the privilege of participating in a documentary that is educating others about the effects porn has on people’s hearts, brains and ultimately on the world. When this was released, a well-meaning person shared her very real and understandable disappointment in my personal story.

She was enraged that I portrayed a happy ending when in fact most women leaving the sex industry end up dying from addictions, abusive relationships, suicide or murder.

While there is no real way to fact check this information, I do know this happens to be true of many women and men leaving sex work. I have witnessed and continue to witness the tragic endings she mentioned above. For me, this is not about statistics anymore. It’s about people dying without hope. It truly is a matter of life or death and for that reason I will certainly take comments like this seriously.

However! Just because I know examples like this to be true, does not mean I’m going to leave the world with that note. I will not shy away from portraying the happy life my tribe and I fought so hard for. A life that is possible with the right people and the right help.

After 10 years of experience in the porn industry, I was used to performers, make-up artists, producers, and fans telling me I would not be able to make a new life.

I have to say, that is likely why I am all the more fired up to show people a fully functioning, joyful, post sex industry life is possible! Not without its struggles and hard work though. Freedom is not possible to achieve alone. On my own I was left stuck in survival mode, looking for any and every way to cope with living in my own skin after thousands of people had touched it. I knew that if I were to avoid my own thoughts of giving up on life I would need a bigger community. One that would constantly remind me of the life I am heading towards. A community who would carry me in some seasons and push me in others.

The rooms of recovery was my first place of learning to trust others. It was also the first time I was told the odds weren’t good. When I first sobered up I heard statements like this:

One in ten addicts actually achieve sobriety. Typically, these are the ones who continue to grow spiritually.

When mentioning this to a faith filled friend she said, “I refuse to accept those numbers. Our God is bigger.” While this is well meaning and our God is certainly bigger than the odds, people must be submitted to him in order to win this battle. We each have a part in our freedom journey.

we have a chance to participate in our recovery and in our own personal happy ending.

Some of us have to “Faith it until we make it” but as we keep showing up and leaning into new opportunities for growth and relationships, we soon find we are living free! In the beginning I had to be diligent about each next indicated step and where they were taking my life. The decisions I started making were counter intuitive to everything I used to know before. This ranged from how I interacted with people to how I presented myself to the world in a respectful manner.

Little things like adjusting how I use social media has helped to keep me safe and productive in my healing process.

I don’t post pictures that are about gaining attention for myself or pose in ways that are seductive. I don’t post where I am until after I have actually left. I don’t accept friend requests from people I don’t know unless credible people in my life can vouch for them. In fact, many times I get requests from strangers who have mutual friends and when asking my mutual friends who they are, I find out they have no idea! This is a big red flag for me and my safety. Having been followed in the past including at my latest place of work, this is no joke to me! Other decisions I now make to protect my emotional and physical safety include, not traveling alone, not going to interviews alone, (even virtual ones), and informing others immediately when my internal alarms go off. Today, I am also there for others in the same ways.

I am surrounded with people who have my back for all the right reasons now... not because I am making them money

With the help of my tribe I am able to face life on life’s terms as a fully integrated, healthy, maturing person. Yes, the odds aren’t good but with God’s help and the help of his people, it is possible to beat them! It takes a village of support to gain the strength needed to keep moving forward when it feels like everything is against you. Refuge For Women is part of my village. Who is in yours? If you are looking to break free, I urge you to find your tribe and have them ask you these two questions constantly!

Who are you becoming? how are your decisions Today helping you to become that person?