“To make something visible, to leave uncovered or unprotected, or to subject (photographic film) to light, especially when operating a camera,”
is the meaning of the word exposed, as defined by Webster.
For nineteen years of my life, this word left an unclean feeling deep in the pits of my stomach, and all too often carried haunting, darkened memories that reminded me of the disgrace I had become. For instance, some were of my childhood, when I was first exposed to sex, violence, alcohol, drugs, and the complete dysfunction my parents raised me in. Others included how I was exposed as a young girl, when my body was no longer my own, but instead belonged to a neighbor. Countless memories were of times when I was exposed as a teenager, to the registered sex offender who stole my virginity, and the time my body was sold for drugs. Lastly, vivid reminders of disgrace were from my young adult years, when I chose to be exposed, in order to gain control, fuel addictions, escape from reality, survive, accumulate material things, and feel loved.
Not only did that scared little girl remain in me throughout those 19 years, but so did her definition of the word exposed. If you were to have asked her what this word meant, she would have said,
“To give away, or to be sold, in such a way that the body is completely bare, to watch over, or to subject (a person) to darkness, especially where others are hidden in the dark too.”
So, what does exposed mean to you?
When listening to people express themselves, it’s often unthought-of how one word can carry multiple meanings. Especially when our human hearts feel so much, and our own life experiences have given us a totally different perspective. I find it wondrous though, how these experiences plant meanings of words for each person, which ultimately, directly affects the heart. It reminds me of gardening. Now, you may not need a lesson on this, but hear me out, because I promise I'm going somewhere.
First, you need some really moist dirt (the dirt is like our brains. Hardly ironic how our brains are the moistest part of our bodies…it’s just like our creator to do such a thing), next you need a seed (words are like seeds), then you put them together, and BAM! You have planted your words/seed into the brain/ground, and they will eventually grow. The type of seed (word) that is planted will determine what grows (the condition of our hearts)
Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (NIV)
Have you ever thought of John the Baptist, and the first thing God gives him to write?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (NIV)
The Word is full of truth, which exposes a person’s heart, thus, bringing it to its rightful condition. All of mankind needs this, because we live in a world where definitions bring us down, causes division, and hardens our hearts. Leaving us, as a human race, completely disconnected.
Today (I declare in a triumphant tone), the word exposed no longer has that stained feel of disgust that once positioned itself around the pit of my stomach. Exposed no longer reminds me of darkness, but instead reminds me of a bright shining light, which leads to a safe place. I believe that being exposed is one of the most beautiful things a person can be, because it means we are vulnerable, which results in something remarkable. CONNECTION.
Connection is precisely what happens at Refuge for Women (RFW), from guests, to volunteers, and even to those who are not directly involved in the ministry. Refuge guests, for the first time in their life, are able to find a true sense of belonging, and identity, through being exposed. They get to experience healing, restoration, and change of heart. Most importantly, everything gained is because Refuge provides an atmosphere centered around Christ, allowing women who have been sexually exploited, to build their own relationship with God, and at their own pace. Alongside these wonderful women, the RFW employees, and volunteers, sooner or later, find a sense of sameness as the connections are built. Ultimately, realizing that they have more in common than what was initially perceived.
As one of the writers here at Refuge for Women, connection is exactly what I hope for as you continue to read each, and every blog that is posted. I desire for barriers to be broken down, stereotypes to no longer exist, and to have a sense of self evolution with everything you read. For our innate commonalities to be shared, and compassion to arise.
Ephesians 5:13 says, “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself.” (NIV)
Refuge for Women is excited to announce that we have assembled a team of writers, more so, a team of listeners, who are dedicated to sharing what God is doing in every RFW home across the nation. This blog will stand to give a platform to those who have been shushed, hidden, and locked away. Refuge for Women is going full exposure with our Blog launch series, “No Longer Untold.” May the light of Jesus Christ that has shown so heavy on this ministry shine through each, and every blog written. Softening hearts, and connecting everyone no matter their journey in life.
From a continuous growing follower of Jesus Christ, a grateful heart, and past guest.
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There is More to come! You can expect stories from the writing team every first, and third Wednesday of the month.
Disclaimer: Please note resident quotes and testimonies are provided for use by Refuge for Women, Inc. and its subsidiaries for the purpose of general communications and updates to staff, volunteers and potential supporters of Refuge. Identities of residents should always be protected. The contents of testimonies should not be used for any professional publications without permission from Refuge for Women, Inc.