So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)
I was in the county jail, visiting a reentry program called “Been There Done That.” The name of the group was apt. They had all been sex workers, who had been just about everywhere and who had done just about everything. I was with thirty women in a jail cell. Jennifer, the leader of the program, asked them to share how they got there. One used to travel with her father as a little girl as he sold drugs. When she turned 12 he began to sell her. Another said that her stepmother made her start “servicing” the boys in the family when she was 10. Another had parents in jail, so she lived with her disabled grandparents. She began to “work” the neighborhood so that she could feed the family. After listening to several of them, Jennifer asked if I had anything to say to them. I said, “Ladies, whatever led you to be in here makes me grieve. And beyond my grief is God’s grief. God created you for better than what happened to you. You are all made in God’s image. And nothing you could ever do can take that away.” I continued, “Although you may have been abused, may have sold your bodies, may have taken things that messed you up, may have done things that make you ashamed, I want you to know that you’re God’s precious and beloved child.” Ever had thirty crying prostitutes hug you? I wanted to sear today’s scripture—that they were made in God’s image—into their hearts and minds. And, I pray I can sear this same message into you. I don’t know what you have done or not done, what shame you might be carrying around, what bad or compromising choices you may have made, but I encourage you to remember that you are made in God’s image. Nothing you have done, or could ever do, can change that. Live into the dignity that’s given to you as a birthright. Reflection Questions:
- Has anyone ever told you that are you unworthy, ugly, damaged, useless? If so, are you willing to see just how wrong they were, or are? If so, what would it take for you to let God define whom you are, and not them?
- Have you ever done anything that caused you to feel like God could never love you again? If so, do you know how wrong you were, or how wrong you might be right now? Isn’t it time to let go of all that “wrongness?”
- Are you willing to trust that there is nothing that you could do that can ever erase in whose image you are made, or could ever take away how God feels about you?
My Barnabas invites you to watch the video below: