Choosing to Lose

When Peter stepped out of the boat to approach Jesus on the raging sea, I wonder if he felt regret.  Leaving behind a presumably safe vessel in exchange for the implausible prospect of walking on water seems crazy.  I wonder if the tempest burned his skin, or perhaps the chilly deluge saturated all the way to his heart.  It must have been challenging… in spite of Jesus’ physical presence, Peter started to doubt, and his feet sank. 
            My whole life I’ve chosen to live in a vessel composed of worldly expectations and hopes.  I thought I wanted to continue with my education to the highest degree possible and fight injustice from a definitive social echelon.  Then in a moment of emotional and academic frustration, I dared to put a foot outside of my boat.  Working in Thailand, I’ve been dangling one foot in the sea.  My spirit has been in the midst of a great civil war- my heart pleading to take a chance on the unknown while my mind actively fights for its vessel.
            As I’ve given my heart greater influence, my doubts have procreated, and the tempest is stinging my exposed flesh.  The waves are licking at my thighs, and I feel paralyzed by the cold.  Without my vessel, I am exposed and at the mercy of Christ’s direct intervention.  Injustice has revealed itself to a greater extent in the direct threat of my best friend from Bangla Road being trafficked; while I expected opposition to the Spirit’s newfound authority, I had not anticipated the degree of faith it takes to balance on the surface of this tide. 
            In an earlier blog, I chronicled my first acquaintance with New;* Mrriah and I painted her nails with butterflies- clothing her hands with promises.  We have known her for nearly two months, and we have become “pouin lak” (phonetic spelling- ‘best friends’) over innumerable McDonald’s sundaes, lunch dates, trips to the beach, and walks around Patong.  She represented hope to me, and I sincerely believed that she would be the first bar girl that God escorted into freedom through our friendship. 
            This week, I pursued our friendship with even greater intention.  In hopeful expectation, I invited her to lunch with the staff from our ministry.  New* and I have had lunch at the ministry on two prior occasions, but in the face of her boss’ most recent request that she move to Hong Kong to “clean” for a “boyfriend,” I held out hope that she would accept a job offer here instead.  Disappointment crept in as tears pushed down New's cheeks.  In spite of Thai etiquette which quiets the expression of any emotion, New and I cried, as she explained her financial obligation to appease her boss.  I could not embrace her tight enough to make her stay. 
Apparently the blow of heartbreak is not assuaged with experience.  This blow hit the heart of my whole team.  Every girl on this team has accompanied New and I on a day date at least once, and everyone invested intentional prayer time into her freedom.  We've all felt her affection, known her hugs, and loved her presence in the face of so much darkness on Bangla Road.
         I keep replaying each moment with my pouin lak.  I keep remembering her phone call 2 weeks ago simply stating "Chan rac kuhn ka mac mac" (I love you much).  I keep thinking of the silly songs we sing together, the Thai words she taught me, and I keep praying that the familiar guise for sex trafficking is actually not a guise at all, but a ticket into a better life for New.  The tempest is raging, and the deluge is saturating everything from my skin to my heart.  I can't go back to my boat now.  I won't go back to my boat now.

*name changed

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