It's gone so fast. I don't feel like I've been going into the club every month for the last 2 years, but I have. God has brought me to a completely different mindset about this ministry than I had two years ago, or even last year. I think I've kind of (at least I hope) gotten past worrying about what the results are going to be. As in, am I ever going to help a girl quit this job, this life? I've been reminded and understand that I have nothing to do with it. Only God can bring change into such a dark prison as this lifestyle. I think I've also been able to hang onto the hope that the visits and hugs and conversations we have are more meaningful than I'm aware of. I hope, and depend on God's promise that His word will not return empty, but accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11). I've also come to understand that for a lot of these women it's so much more than just quitting a job. That sometimes, when there's sin or unhealthy habits and behaviors in our lives, God has to work on the circumstances that keep us going back to it before he turns our attention to that specific sin or behavior. I got the opportunity this week to talk to a girl who has a friend who dances. She wanted to know how to talk to her friend and encourage her away from this lifestyle in a loving, effective way. While I was talking to her I was able to share that I've learned there is so much more to dancing than just a job. At least there is for a lot of the women I've met. Many of them have built their friendships, community and lives around the place they work. To just up and quit would mean so much more than just leaving a typical 9-5 job. Now that's not all of them, but for the women I've gotten close to in the past couple of years, it's true. So to try to quit without spending time around people who encourage you will be extremely difficult. So it's one step at a time. My hope now is that they know that God loves them, and I can build a relationship with them when they're not working.
Back to the visit tonight. Diana Brosius was so wonderful this month. She single-handedly came up with our gift of handmade, glitter ornaments (thank you Pinterest!). They turned out super-cute, and because we coated them with glitter on the inside they won't shed everywhere! I'm going to have to make some of my own next year. It was easy and fun. Hairmaster (Stephanie) Liby also donated free haircuts for the girls, so please pray that some of them call her and get their hair done. Last time we had 2 people use the cards, so pray that more take that step and let themselves be pampered and loved on. We also made chocolate drop cookies for the guys who were working. It was raining all day today, and bad weather usually means a lot more customers for the club. Not sure why, although I could probably come up with some theories. We didn't get there until 6:30 (we usually get there closer to 6, right after they open) so I expected a busy atmosphere, but there were only 2-3 girls there and 1-2 customers. Anyway, we went in and chatted with "M" the bouncer about his family's Christmas plans. I invited them to church, but they'll be out of town all day. We headed to the dressing room and got a quick hug and "Hey!" from one of the girls who was running back and forth. She did stop long enough to say open a gift and a card and was really excited and happy about it. "P" was the only other girl in the dressing room and I realized that she was one of the girls I met on the first night 2 years ago. I asked how her kids were doing, (they live with a relative who has custody) and she said she hadn't talked to them in a while. She acted very matter-of-fact and breezy about it, and said the relative is mad at her about child support. "It'll be fine once I send some money to her," she said. I asked how long it had been since she had seen them, and she said, "Two years". The she grabbed her phone, checked the date, and said, "Two years tomorrow". Her voice changed a little bit and for just a second you could see some of her pain. She changed the subject and we talked about her plans to be with her boyfriend for Christmas and what movie they wanted to see. I invited her to church for Christmas or New Year's but she said she'd probably be hungover. Honestly, I'm glad she said it. I'm so grateful to be trusted with the truth than to have her hedge and say 'sure yeah' and not come.
The dj came into the dressing room to say hi and we chatted a little with him about his move to another town nearby. His dad recently died and he has been busy packing up the basement in his dad's house, which also flooded while his dad was in the hospital. I expressed sympathy, but he seems pretty ok with everything. He said again that he'll "be in church soon", but we'll see. I know he means it, but I know how easy excuses can crowd out good intentions. We'll just keep after him.
And that was it. I went home knowing it was a good visit, but just sad knowing a lot of these women don't get to be with their kids or all their family for Christmas. And regardless of the reasons for that, it still hurts. It's reminded me to pray for people who don't have the happy, joyous holiday I do. I hope you do too.