Labels and Limitations
“I don’t know what this girl will do, her only skills are massage and strip dance, that is all she is good for, that is all she can do.”
I was listening to a service provider tell me a story about a trafficking victim they had encountered. The girl was trafficked from Europe into South Africa to work in the sex industry. She is in her twenties and when she was no longer attractive enough to make her trafficker enough money, he left her with nothing.
Body and mind broken.
I have been mulling that line over in my head. “… All she is good for… all she can do.”
Growing up, people label us, and through their labels, they limit us. I have always been the stubborn and rebellious one, oh and the flirty one. In Sunday school no one ever made me Mary in the Christmas play, (I played the ‘unsaved’ kid who had never heard of the virgin birth;).
I was talking this over with a friend recently, and he had some wise words for my stubborn head, “Where people saw a rebellious spirit, God saw a strong woman that would fight for the oppressed and not be easily broken. It wasn’t the fight in you that was wrong, it was what you were fighting for.”
Last week I was having breakfast with another amazing friend of mine and we were talking about the limits people sometimes put on us because we are both young women. Some people say that maybe we are too young to really make a difference… What can we possibly know when we haven’t been in ministry as long as they have?
I shared with her about a recent experience where I was feeling especially crushed by the words of an older person regarding this exact thing: my age and my gender.
Someone looked at me and saw limitations.
But then a staff member from NFS came and said to me, “We don’t want the fact that you are a young, passionate female to stop you from doing this work. We see that as your strength not your weakness.
Weakness being turned to Strength | sounds like Jesus stuff to me.
I wonder about the words spoken over my life, imagine if those words had the power to limit me.
I would be too young, I would not be wise enough, I would be the wrong gender, I would be too mouthy and sarcastic, I would be too flirtatious, and too rebellious, I would definitely never get to be the virgin Mary in the Christmas play, (okay I still haven’t done that but hey, a girl can’t get everything in life).
What if their words had taken away my ability to choose a different path for my life?
But they didn’t. Not because I wasn’t all those things, but because God had grace to take those things and turn them into something new, something redeemed, something beautiful and strong, something that gives me the confidence to step up and do my part in making a difference.
God took the limits and the labels, the things that held me in fear and he blew the roof off of them. He set me free from them.
I bring it back to the first quote about this European woman. She is very beautiful, and has been used as a sexual object for most of her life. After years of abuse, people have stopped looking at her as woman who could make a difference.
We see only what her abusers want us to see.
Along the way the world has limited her, labelled her, and stopped giving her the power of choice to decide her own destiny.
At her young age, a woman not yet 30, labels have sentenced her to being only good enough to be used for one thing
It makes me sick to think about, because I know there is such a greater plan for her.Not as a sexual object, not that death-sentence which robs her soul and steals her mind.
No! There is a freedom-sentence for her, a plan and a purpose, life abundant. There is a God plan for her. Something bigger and greater then all our limits and labels can comprehend.
God wants all that crap that people have spoken over her washed off. He wants her to have a new identity in Him, and he wants to give her the freedom to make a choice about what she wants to do. Just like he wants to wash each of us off from all the limitations that people pile onto us. Passionately redeeming us who are weak and foolish, making our limits into our stepping-stones.
By the way,
We asked this young European lady what skill she can do.
We asked her what she would like to do.