I look out of the window, leaning around the people who sit next to me to catch a glimpse outside. It is night. I suppose I’ve been sleeping for what seems like hours, but I know by the way others appear around me that it has been only but a matter of minutes.
Hot coffee is poured into the cup in front of me and the girl across the aisle asked if there is any food. The person who poured the coffee answered no.
I squint into the darkness of the room as silhouettes of noses and ears dance in my vision. Without the light, we all look the same.
My boarding pass is tucked beneath my leg and I tug on it, unfolding the torn remains of the document. 29B. The bathroom light glows green from red and I see a dark figure approach me and then walk past. It is 1am for the second time in what feels like a few short hours.
What makes a human life valuable? Across the world, we all have differences. We don’t look the same. We speak different languages with different cultures and have different skin and hair color. We react differently to the circumstances that surround us. But we have many things in common, too. The main commonality is that not a single one of us can be replaced.
There is not a possible way to go to a store and buy another us, another me, another you, another person. And because of this, it is built innately in us to do everything we can for someone that we love because human life cannot be replaced or exchanged. The value of a human life is priceless.
This is the message behind the Priceless Cube.
I spent the past week in a few villages near Fang, Thailand working with a team with a focus on spreading awareness in regard to human trafficking, sharing this concept with many families who heard about human trafficking for the first time even though it is present in many of the places where they live (it’s also very present where many of us live in America).
Doors began to swing open for my team and I with stories that cannot be explained well enough by my writing, but I will be sure to tell you them in person if you have a few moments’ time.
This is how I found myself puddle jumping in the pouring rain, my pants stuck to my knees, taking off my shoes to run through the wet clay.
This is how I found myself with enough light inside of me to prayer walk the red light district of Chiang Mai and keep from sobbing until I reached the front of my hotel.
This is how I found myself crying in the first place at all.
I relearned my entire life in Thailand.
Everything is different, but somehow everything is the same. I’m still me. But I leaned to let go.
For all the times I’ve said I’m healed, all the times I felt set free, nothing compares to this. Nothing compares to the way I am today. And it wasn’t me who healed me. It wasn’t Thailand that healed me, it wasn’t my change in worldview or perspective or my 16-hour flight.
It was Jesus.
This trip could have been me running from the things that scared me. Thailand could have been my escape, my ability to avoid all that is to come and all that has occurred. Sometimes, I think, we go places like this to hide instead of be found.
And sometimes we come back home to hide instead of be found, too.
I’ve fought this battle for so long with the words – “yes, I know the cross is enough, BUT” – and now, it is finished. It is no longer a run-on sentence.
I can hear the chains falling in the background like music as they hit the ground.
Be gentle, Sophie. Be kind. Be wise. Show love. Be relentless in your story to heal and live peace.
Don’t live on the yellow light, stopping too early or speeding through intersections. Think before you act. Have mercy.
Draw a thousand different paths and pray about it and choose one, and if you’re unhappy upon it, pray again. If you get the same answer, stick it out and wait for your heart to change.
This life is too important to miss. If you have a new chapter opening, write a good story. If you have an old chapter closing, finish well. And if you’re in the middle of a really cruddy story without an easy way out, I want to tell you that there is an easy way out. Everything can change in an instant.
Remember that what makes a good story is the way characters change and develop throughout time. No character in a story changed their life by never changing their mind.
How many times do we watch a tv show or movie and slap our hand to our forehead when the lead character overlooks something so obvious to us, something that would change everything? The real question becomes a question in regard to how often we do that in our own lives.
We can go to Thailand to find ourselves. We can go to Europe, we can explore a new coffee shop down the street or sit on a curb and sing with a guitar. We can buy new, different shampoo or eat food for an entire day only using chopsticks.
It’s true, stopping everything and going somewhere new unravels us, but it is not the new place that writes it in permanent marker. It is the culmination of our experiences up to that point of change that changes us, not the change itself. When we have an inner fire for something to happen for a long period of time and we see that occur, that’s what makes the change stick. It is often not the moment itself, but instead it is the proving of the walk we had in faith up to the point of the experience that causes us to change.
If two chemicals never meet, they never react.
If two magnets never meet, they never stick.
It takes both the beginning and the end to make a change. And the time is now for things to be different, but the change may take time. Patience, be patient.
The more time we wait, the greater the victory we have in store. The bigger the battle, the greater the victory.
This is only just the beginning, this is a new song, a new story. Because it is red that turns white. It is wounds that heal. It is death that turns to life because life is priceless.
You are priceless. You deserve a good story with a happy ending without fear, guilt, sorrow or pain. You deserve the victory.
It is the light that changes us, it is the light that makes us different. In the dark, we all look the same.
There is so much in this life to celebrate, to love, to learn. And we dance in the light, because we ourselves are illuminated, glowing as the light.
I wrote the above on my way home from the journey, and I feel there is something important I should add as I near the close of my first 24 hours back.
Often when we change drastically in small amounts of time- through experiences, circumstances, books or even a song- we sometimes create the notion that not only have we changed, but everything around us has changed as well. This is often not true.
We may find ourselves stumbling backward, shocked that the things that moves us do not move other people. This is not the fault of others.
It becomes our role to guard our hearts and minds with even thicker shields when God changes the things in our hearts.
There are people who will not listen. There are times that will not move others the way they move you. There is passion and goodness that cannot pass through the walls placed against us simply because we are sometimes in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is not their fault. Regardless of these boundaries, it does not change the fact that this is my story or your story. Sharing our story with someone else does not make it become someone else’s story, it becomes only a part of their story. This is important.
We cannot build the same kingdom for someone else the way God did in our own life. All we can do is live in the kingdom created for us rather than destroy it. We guard that kingdom with our lives because it is always in enemy territory but it also has a King who is greater and stronger and we reign with him as co-heirs in Christ (Romans 8) in that place because He freely gave us a home to live so that we can be free from the fear of living in broken houses in broken places.
As I wake up this morning, I know now I do not want to shut down again and be who I was pre-Thailand. I want to break free for good this time. I want to be the person God has set before me and not be afraid anymore.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far have our transgressions been removed from us.” Psalm 103
“For anyone who turns to the Lord, the veil is removed, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 1 Corinthians 3
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3
Thank you for these promises, God, that You’ll never leave and always love. Thank you for showing me that home is a place, that love is real and we are never giving up. This is only the beginning.