If Not, I'd Be A Selfish Coward

Friday, January 23, 2015

Warning. This post is a big deal to me. It's full of passion and conviction and all the feelings.

Consider yourself warned.

Last week, I hopped on a jet plane and headed to Austin, Texas for Noonday's Ambassador Conference. I got to spend the night Wednesday with almost all of the girls who went to Rwanda this summer. Be still my heart. I love them with a fierceness that I can't adequately describe. There is something about our bond I can't explain (aside from the obvious awesomeness that they each posses) and I kinda love that about us. Thursday opened the door to meet 300 world changing women who are beautiful, brave and total badasses in the fight for justice. I mean ya'll, this tribe is crazy bold and so beautifully humble and real. I have never felt that way about a group of women this large. Let's just be real. But really part of the tribe was missing for me because my hostesses and customers are my real life, 24/7 tribe of people. They drive Noonday's success. They are vital to the process.

Throughout the weekend, we heard from Moon, our partner artisan in India. Talk about a freedom fighter. She is recklessly faithful to the fight of freeing women in her country from sex trafficking and domestic violence. She STARTED the fairtrade movement in India and she's packin some serious fight in her little frame.

And there was Jalia and Daniel! 8 days before conference I got the best news ever! Jalia messaged me to let me know they were coming to Texas! I got to hug and cuddle and kiss sweet Zed way sooner than I thought I would! It was so good to see them and reconnect! More on that later.

But to the point. You know about me being a selfish coward... or not.

Melissa from International Justice Mission went on the Style For Justice Trip with Noonday. In fact, she and Jessica dreamed it up together. She spoke at our conference and she pierced straight to my heart with her words.

She talked about "The Big Ask" and of growing up in the South where it was absolutely inappropriate to discuss how much things cost and where asking for help was just as much a social stigma. She brought it up because her Job at IJM is to fundraise for sting operations and other programs that free women, men and children from slavery and sex trafficking. Having that in her story, in her social DNA if you will, made it hard for her as she began the incredible work she is doing. It's impossible to fundraise without asking for help.

And ya'll, I almost came out of my seat as I heard her elaborate there, because hello... first that was my life. I remember situations where people would just assume die than have someone know they needed help. And second this disgusting acknowledgment of how prideful that mentality is washed over me and literally made me sick. Who in the world are we to be so arrogant and protective of our perceived status as infallible, to step in the way of someone using their God given gifts for the good of someone else? Who are we to think we have made it anywhere without someone else opening a door for us, or for falling out of a spot we now possess.

She really drove it home for me when she used and example of Solange, one of IJM's clients in Rwanda, who I happened to connect with and share a hard, humbling, sacred moment with. We're also now weaving our stories together via email, God bless technology. Nothing makes my heart skip a beat more, than to look down at my iphone alert and see SOLANGE pop up on and incoming email notification! These are some photos from our first day at the Co-Op. Solange is in red.

photos by wynne elder
I think it's pretty clear that she possesses a ginormous amount of joy!
I mentioned on facebook that she has a daughter about the same age as mine. In the most random of moments one day, through a translator, she told me the story of how she came to the co-op, in other words how she became a client of IJM. It wasn't she, but her daughter, who inevidably led her there. Her daughter was brutally attacked and raped by a middle aged man30 years older than her tiny body. Her daughter, who's the same age as my Mary Cohen. And she told me all of it, with that brave little girl standing right beside her and it was all I could do to hold it together, to keep my eyes fixed on her because she wasn't letting go of my gaze.
 I will never know why she shared that with me out of  all the people there, around a pool in Rwanda as music played and kids danced, but I have to believe it's because I am supposed to be the audible voice for she and thousands of others here, where theirs can't be heard. I believe God, on that very day gave me a mission, a calling, a battle and more so than that, I believe He gave me everything I need to honor her story. I, like Solange, am made in His image and therefor I have been both called and equipped.
So, back to Melissa. In her talk she said that she still struggles with the ask when she is walking into a group of business people or influential and very wealthy clients to make a huge ask on behalf of IJM because for so long asking for help was such a terrible, weak, awful, socially unacceptable thing. And then she said "everytime I get nervous about and ask, I envision myself talking to Solange and saying, well I was going to ask these people for help so that we could pay for an attorney to help prosecute your daughters rapist but it just made me uncomfortable. I get so anxious and I'm just worried what people will think about me." And I think my heart stopped. And I hope yours just at least skipped a beat too... And how stupid and ridiculous and selfish and cowardly would that be in reality.
Solange is my real life friend (and even if she wasn't....) She entrusted me with some horrific details of her daughters attack and some beautiful ones of her healing. That baby girls smile goes on for days and because of her Mamma's prayers and unwavering faith in Jesus, IJM's program and people like Melissa who make the big asks, people like me who get to share her story and you who and I both who get to buy her Mamma's beautiful items through Noonday, she is on the road to healing.
Whole, Beautiful. Redeemed
So here's the thing. There are millions of Solange stories out there and I have been put in a position to gather my people and make the big ASK on behalf of them. I'm owning that this year. I'm not playing small, I'm not hiding, or being afraid of rejection or of any perception of me or what I do. I am owning my position in Christ as an ambassador, not just for Noonday but for justice and healing and hope and dignity and love. I am going to ASK everyone I know if they want to be a part of making life different and better and beautiful for people who need their voices heard. We are powerful here friends, we have so much influence in each of our circles, whether that is in your neighborhood, your workplace, your church, your kids school, your playgroup or homeschool co-op or junior league!
You have the power to empower and I'm going to ask you to do it, because if I didn't I'd be selfish and a coward. I'm going to use my power and privilege and I'm going to ask you to do the same. No apologies, no guilt, no ridiculous pride that is buried deep down in my history.
Hosting a Noonday Trunkshow isn't a just another home party. It's just not. Erase that thought from your mind. It's so much bigger and so much more.
 It's about using style and story among friends in our own communities to make a world that flourishes, one where children are cherished, people have jobs, women are empowered and we are connected! We get to help turn wailing into dancing and Lord knows we danced in Rwanda!

photos by paige knudsen
So if you want to beat me to the punch message me in any of the ways below and let's make the circle of hope and justice bigger and send a message to Solange and women and girls around the world that they matter, that we hear them and that we are not selfish or afraid or cowards. Let's own our privilege and power and live our lives out loud.
Let's SHINE!


Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

because just this......


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! tears... lots of tears. I read this to my family! Beautifully said! Thanks for sharing.


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