As the EU anti-trafficking day approaches (and thus our adopted anti-trafficking day) on October 18th, I can’t help but contemplate the meaning of freedom. A quick Google search reveals that there are many different interpretations of the word “freedom.” In summary I find that freedom could mean the option to choose your own consciousness, to choose to be proactive rather than reactive, and to choose how to spend your time. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, freedom is “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” According to Dave Matthews Band, freedom is portrayed in “a crowd 10,000 wide … hands in prayer.”
The more that I think of it, the more I think that our concept of freedom is dictated by our experience and personality. I think about my friends, my colleagues, my family, and wonder how they would describe freedom if they were to speak from their hearts. Perhaps some might express freedom as meaning being able to travel with abandon and pursue adventure. Perhaps some might feel that freedom means being able to get out from under a heavy debt. For some, it may mean to break from a troublesome relationship. Still some may think that freedom means spiritual and emotional levity.
I’m sure you know where I am going with this. Obviously, in the context of anti-trafficking day freedom would mean the ability to be free from slavery, to not have to report to a pimp. It would mean freedom from brothels and indulgence of childhood. To a certain extent, yes, of course. More than that, though, freedom means being recognized as a human after you have had your heart and soul shattered. Freedom means being allowed to come back to life.
You may think that you don’t have anything in common with the sexually exploited. You may be thinking “I’ve had a pretty cush life…I don’t even really have anything to offer. I don’t even have a very interesting testimony.” I think you’re wrong. I think that God uses us to the extent that we are willing to be used. If you have ever had your heart broken, if you have ever struggled with wanton emotion, if you have ever been confused or angry or frustrated: you have something in common with the sexually exploited. You have something to offer.
Last year I attended a three-part series called Grace, Truth and Homosexuality and I went to session initially thinking that I did not have anything to offer, or learn. I thought to myself “I don’t struggle with homosexuality, and I don’t have a problem with the grace part, so I am not sure why I am attending.” I was so wrong. My story is incredibly closely aligned with the truths and struggles that were being exposed and explored there. My key take-away was that, although the manifestations of my struggle were different, the core of it all was essentially the same. I wrote a blog post about it then, which you can find here.
I want to encourage you, as October 18th approaches, to think about your own story and what freedom means to you. It doesn’t have to be with human trafficking – not everyone is called to the same social justice issue. However, I believe that everyone is called to something. Take some time this week to think and pray about what your thing is.
What part of your story can be a part of somebody else’s story?
Brooke M. Birkey