She had a beautiful name. An actress's name. I'll just call her Jolie in order to respect her privacy.
She was Cute! Cute! CUTE! Small. Petite. Of course, garbbed head to toe in her prison whites. Older than my mind had first guessed. Had beautiful brown eyes. I liked her immediately. She seemed level-headed, but you could tell she could be fiesty. She spoke her mind. Didn't see any reason not to. I admired her openness, her boldness, her honesty. I mostly admired her want-to. Her heart. Her want to change, to be transformed, and to live righteously and out loud for her Jesus. Here's what she said....
We were sitting in a women's prison. I was co-leading a bible study. In addition to growing them spiritually, the class is also set up to prepare the inmates for employment once back "outside" on the streets again. The questions being asked were to prompt their memory to remember the different things that they were once good at, their skills, the tools they had worked with, their experience... to see what jobs they might want to pursue in their future. At the moment, the particular question our group was discussing was a two part question. It read as follows:
As an adult (after age 18):
- What was one thing that you did well and enjoyed?
- What made you feel that you did it well?
"I'm going to be blunt," she said. Then paused. After clearly thinking a minute more she continued, "I'm going to be honest. I wasn't "good" at anything. Oh yes, I was a mom. But I was only half a mom. I was half a daughter. I was half a friend. I was a half of everything I was. Here is what I was "good" at. The only thing I was good at. I was good at drugs, drinking, and men. I sold myself out to drugs, drinking, and men. And I can tell you how I know I was good at it. Look." she said as she looked around her surroundings in the prison she sat in, "I know I was good at it, because look where it landed me."
Wow. Those were her words. "I sold myself out to drugs, drinking, and men."
"I sold myself out to...."
"I sold myself...."
Her words keep ringing in my ears. She said those words to me on Wednesday. Today is Saturday. They're ringing still.
What do we... or are we tempted to... sell ourselves out to? And where will it land us once we do?
Maybe it won't land us in a physical prison? But maybe it will (though we never ever thought that it would)? Maybe it'll land us in a prison of another kind? A spiritual one. A mental one. Regardless of the kind, a prison of any kind is never pleasant. So, why do we so often "sell" ourselves out so easily, so quickly, so flippantly, and for so little?
We all know the story of Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of soup. Just because of his hunger! His stomach's growl! How silly that sounds! How ridiculous! Yet, in our own 'hunger' for this or for that... for love, for accolades, for clothes, for things, for 'happiness', for laughter, to fit in, to be liked, to be noticed, to look good, for affection, for a job, for money, for a relationship, to numb our hurt.......
Girls sell their innocence, their virginity, in hopes to keep the guy she's falling for. People sell their self-control, their senses, for a drink, to feel a buzz, to fit in, to be more relaxed, more fun, less nervous. Many sell their morals (they'll steal, they'll kill, they'll lie) for drugs in order to get high. But how long does it last them? How fulfilling in the end? What all will it take from them before it is finished?
Hebrews 12:16-17 reminds us not to do what Esau did. "See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears."
Jesus says in Matthew 16:26, "For what does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchanged for his soul?"
Do you mind if I rearrange that verse and say it again this way? "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" "For what does it profit a man [what's his reward, his benefit, his advantage, its usefulness] if he shall gain the whole world, and lose [do damage to, receive injury to, suffer loss to] his own soul?"
What shall a man give... to give something to someone / of one's own accord to give one something to his advantage / to grant / to give to one asking / to let have / to supply / to furnish / to give over / to deliver / to present / to give over to one's care / to intrust.......
What shall a man give over to someone, to intrust someone with IN EXCHANGE for his soul????
- that which is given in place of another thing by way of exchange.
- what is given either in order to keep or to acquire anything.
- the act of giving or taking in return for another: to trade.
What will you give in order to keep or acquire another thing?
What will you give in order to get in return?
What will you TRADE?
The words she said still echo in my head, "I sold myself." "I sold myself out to..."
They haunt me. I'm sure they haunt her even more. And I wonder what you've sold yourself to, or what you'll sell yourself for? What have I? Or what will I sell out to?
Three o'clock. Our time was up. She got up from her chair where she sat and she left. I watched her leave. I heard the doors buzz open to let her back in, and heard their loud locking clank behind her as they locked her inside the place she now lives because of the things she'd sold her life to. Now she reaps what she sowed having no idea once where the seeds of her life would grow.