a new friend I met the night we walked around Sonagacchi, Calcutta’s largest red light district.

Several people have asked me what the hardest part of India was (working with those trapped in human trafficking? those freed from human trafficking? the poverty?). The answer might surprise you. It took me completely off guard and un-did me.

Having worked with Freeset for over a decade now, I have many friends there-friends freed from human trafficking- making a dignified life for themselves and their family. It is amazing to witness the difference between the inside walls of freedom where there is laughter, chatter, and smiles, versus the outside walls of pain, hollow eyes, and sheer human desperation.

I have prayed for these women for years and am blessed to know them. I have a friend who is my age (and has children close to my kid’s age) who has a beautiful smile and whose personality just radiates. The hardest part of the trip? Seeing my friend in line (prostitution line) as we walked around the red light district of Sonagacchi last Wednesday night.

My heart stops again, just writing those words out. Seeing all the images of that night over in my head. I asked all the questions you might be asking now: How? Why? What was she thinking? Are you sure it was her? I had prayed for her for years…how?

I walked through the horror of the red light district dumb struck by one image: my friend in line. again. after freedom.

Our director had asked her not to come to work the next day (Thursday), requesting she stay at home and they would begin to sort things out. We walked into Freeset Thursday morning and I gasped upon seeing her there. It was a heart reaction. She looked at me and knew. Knew that I knew. I looked at her and my heart broke. No smiles. No radiant personality. Just grief at a poor decision. I greeted her and left the room as politely and calmly as I knew how.

And sobbed in the bathroom.

It turns out her husband had left her and took added financial support with him. She had not said anything to anyone about struggling financially. She cares for her family and extended family (financial and emotional leeches, really) and needed more money. So, the one night we walked around Sonagacchi, she had hopped back in line out of desperation, seeking to make additional money.

This might make you angry. This might make you sad. It might infuriate you.

It broke my heart.

As I walked around that night in what felt like a stupor, I realized how grieved the Father must be when I make choices that I know are not best, but seem “good enough” or desperate grabs at “sufficient,” at the time. My friend knew that was not the best choice and that that is not what she was designed and created for. But something pushed her over the edge and sent her to that choice. The imprisonment choice, versus freedom.

Yet, how many times do I know He desires the best for me, has created me for such a purpose, yet I allow circumstances and not truth to push me over the edge, choosing things that are not best? I have not ever felt or understood the level of grief He must feel until that night. As I argued with Him, walking around and riding home that night, I gently heard Him remind me “I have great plans for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you….just like I do for her. You must trust me, that I have your best interests in mind.”

Choosing God’s ways are the hardest. They will require more of you, trust in Him, and ultimately, be a deep seated decision to leave circumstances and yourself out of what you do.

My friend is on her way to continued healing and learning to cope with those around her that demand so much. I am on my way to better understanding why it is so important to choose what I know He has called me to and not what is “good enough.”

That was the hardest part.

 

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