Inclusion + Mutuality with Lisa Barnes
Inclusion and mutuality. We are with you. You can count on us.
As January winds down to an close, and Human Trafficking Awareness Month "officially" ends, I want to encourage you to not let the momentum slow. Every month, every day, is filled with opportunities to live out the things that we've learned over this past month. Let's commit to being more aware of the opportunities that arise to share the issue of trafficking with someone. Let's commit to sharing what we know about the incredible organizations that exist to combat trafficking in our communities. Let's create a little extra space to invest in the young ladies that have been put in our lives. We can't do everything, but we can all do something...and by doing a little something, we can (collectively) change the world.
In today's post, the last of this current series on Brave Global, we get to hear from Lisa Barnes. Lisa is the author of the BRAVE Journals, and I'm so excited to dive into what she has so graciously shared with us today.
As of this morning, we are only ONE purchase away *cue the confetti cannons* from our goal of donating 30 of these incredible, transformative journals to 30 at-risk girls from the foster care system. Help us reach this goal by shopping HERE and receive FREE SHIPPING until Wednesday at midnight with the code 'BRAVEGLOBAL'. With every purchase you are automatically entered to WIN your very own BRAVE Journal with a personalized thank you from Brave's CEO. I'll announce the winner on Friday 2/2!
And now, without further ado, here is Lisa Barnes!
Hi! My name is Lisa, I am an Officer with The Salvation Army, a Foster Care alumni, and the author of the Brave journals. Being a part of this amazing movement of people who care for vulnerable girls has been earth shaking in my life.
The Brave Journals open with me writing a letter to my 12 year old self; when I was in foster care for the longest consecutive amount of time. If adult Lisa could say anything to young Lisa what would it be? I wrestled with this question for what seemed to be forever before I came to the simple and inclusive answer of...
You are not alone.
If young Lisa, caught in the system, in placement after placement could know one thing that would change her life forever it would be the profound truth found in that statement.
You are not alone.
You are not alone because you are not the only person who has been wounded by our families of origin not being who they could have been, or loving us the way we deserved to be loved. Unfortunately, others feel this pain too. You aren’t a weirdo or an outsider because this is a part of your story. We can stand together as we live this out together.
You are not alone because there are folks who want to walk alongside you as you navigate this reality. Some have walked the same path, and some just care a lot. If we let people in to the parts of our lives that are dark or scary, those negative feelings almost instantly lose power over us. Fear dissipates when unity blossoms.
And you are not alone because the creator of the universe is in your corner. The God who made all things, made you, knows you, loves you, and will never leave you. Take heart - even on the tough days, He’s already won; and because we are his daughters, we’ve won too.
These truths encapsulate the idea of inclusion and mutuality, the third pillar of the Brave movement.
No matter who you are, what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, or the thoughts you would love to keep secret forever - you are not alone. You are wanted, and you belong.
For Brave to reach its full potential with this demographic, those of us that are the hope dealers get to shout that mantra from the mountaintops. Everyone is welcome here, and you don’t have to be someone your not to fit in. You just as you are is good enough.
Even if you aren’t a part of a Brave event or effort currently, you can get behind this pillar by living a life of inclusion and hope. You can be an ambassador of the truth that when God looks at us, His eyes are full of love, and his arms are outstretched ready to embrace us us as the Good father he is- even if we haven’t experienced that same love and acceptance in our homes.
For so many girls in Foster Care (myself totes included in this) the thought of God being a good father is far fetched at worst and bonkers at best. But we can help demystify this truth by living and loving through God’s lens and not with any of our preconceived notions, or ideas that some of us are different or separate from others.
When I first started going to church, I went for a long time before I believed in God. I went because the people there were nice to me. Even when I was a jerk. Even when I said bad words. Even when I was rough around the edges - to say the least.
I belonged before I believed.
I think our whole world would be different if we loved people as they were, just like Jesus does. Even before they say yes to our belief system. Some will come to faith through these relationships- if they are genuine and authentic. But even the ones who don’t come to faith will have richer more fulfilling lives because they have people in their corner who love and support them, even despite our differences.
This is super related to human trafficking because so many girls get sucked into that life because it may be the first time that they have ever been shown care or kindness. We are all seeking belonging and acceptance, and if you are a teenage girl and a man (even if he has sinister intentions) supplies this need in your life, you are likely to do almost anything to maintain that connection.
Let’s intercede and supply that basic human need, belonging - acceptance - and inclusion NO MATTER WHAT, before pimps, traffickers, and exploiters do - and in turn…. Change the friggen world.
There can be a lot of unanswered questions, and some may not get it… but God is in this. So our question is this - are you BRAVE enough to change this generation?
Let's continue to fight the good fight, my friends. These girls - ALL girls - deserve it.