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What I Learned in the Strip Club

It’s true. I used to hang out in a strip club.

That got your attention, didn’t it? 😊

Last week America (and the world) was given a glimpse of darkness, and our jaws dropped to the floor. In the aftermath, there has been no shortage of words. People are still talking about it. Can I say just one more thing? I'm glad it happened because it woke me up.

Talk about a jaw dropper.

We talk a lot about God’s love. We talk about our freedom in Christ. We sing songs, go to Bible studies, and give our tithes. All good things. But do our hearts break for the broken? Do our hearts bleed for the downtrodden? Did a hypersexualized Super Bowl halftime show evoke compassion in us and a desire to reach the broken and downtrodden? Or did it make us shake our heads and wonder what's wrong with this world as we continued about our busy lives?

All this talk makes me think about my time in the strip club. I’m not joking. I really did hang out in a strip club for awhile. A few years ago, God did an overhaul in my heart. For my whole life, I thought I had to perform to be worth something. As God opened my eyes to his love for me, binding up my broken heart with grace, I realized something else — a whole heart has room for others.

When you live loved, you can give love.

Scared out of my mind, I felt God asking me to start a ministry for girls in the strip clubs. So, once a month, beneath a blanket of stars, a friend and I visited a strip club in Colorado Springs with one goal in mind — to tell the girls how much God loved them.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have danced on that stage, but they wouldn’t let me wear my Spanx. There’s only one man wants to see this body without my Spanx on, so I wore a sweater and talked with the girls instead. A gentleman complimented my sweater, which I found somewhat sweet and quite a bit strange, considering my surroundings. The first night we got kicked out. Can you say you’ve been kicked out of a strip club? It’s a badge I wear with honor. You should try it sometime. 😊

A few weeks later, the night manager ran into my friend at the mall and said the guy who kicked us out was gone and could we please come back. Why? Because he’d never seen the girls with joy on their faces like he had that night. He said, "There was just something that happened when you came. It was like you brought some light into the place."

We went back into the club, scared but doing it anyway. We brought the girls small gifts. The gifts were peace offerings — an attempt to bridge the gap between our different worlds — just down the street from each other and yet worlds apart.

Isn’t that how it often is with the hurting and the healed? Those with the cure stay sick while the sick look desperately for the cure.

The gifts were small — nail polish, makeup or jewelry. We did learn that scarves did not make good gifts. Scarves make great props. (Ooops!) We knew they didn’t need our gifts, but we hoped our small gesture could offer these girls a small glimpse of the God who gives lavishly to any who call on His name. They couldn’t believe that “church” girls would take the time to tell them they matter. They kept asking us, “Why would you come here? Why would you want to talk to us?” Our response was always the same. “We want you to know you’re loved.”

We stayed for hours, hearing their stories and listening to their pain. For many of them, this was the last stop before the streets — a final attempt to salvage some of their dignity. Drugs, suicide, poverty, abuse — all etched across their stories, threads of hopelessness weaved throughout generations.

Friends, can I tell you something I learned in the strip club?

There is always, always, always a story. If we sit long enough with someone, we just might get the privilege of hearing that story.

They confided their dreams to us, whispers in the dark of the lives they dreamed of as little girls. And I realized how the same thread weaves through my story, tying us all together in this journey called life.

I saw a lot of things in my time in the strip clubs. Things forever imprinted in my mind. Some I wish I could forget. Others I pray I won’t. But what I remember the most is the look on the girls’ faces after they danced. With their performance masks down, that armor shielding their hearts set aside, I watched them hiding in the corner counting their dollar bills. For many of them, dancing made them feel worth something. Tightly clasping their payment, as if it would be taken far more easily than it was given, they slipped away into the night with a tangible measurement of their worth. I wanted to grab their sweet faces and tell them, “Sweet, precious woman, you are worth so much more than a couple of dollars!”

But then I thought about myself and so many women I know. Where do we find our worth?

In our kids?

In our performance?

In our Facebook posts and applause from the crowd?

In our mom-wins and Pinterest success?

In our ministries and jobs?

In our bodies and social circles?

In our self-righteousness?

In our pedestals and privilege?

These are mere dollars compared to how much you are worth to God.

You and I might not dance on poles. Let’s be honest, we’d probably end up in the hospital if we did. But we sure do dance through our days, hungry for applause. We sure do perform for worth. We wave our accomplishments before a watching crowd, desperately hoping that someone will tell us that we matter—that we’re worth something.

You are worth so much more than a couple of dollars!

My beautiful friends who dance for worth under the neon lights, measuring your worth by the money earned, you are worth so much more than a couple of dollars. My beautiful friends who dance under the shiny lights of performance, measuring your worth by the applause gained...

You are worth so much more than a couple of dollars!

We aren’t so very different, are we? All women, desperate to belong — to be worth something. Yes, we find our worth in different places, but Jesus is the only one who can satisfy our hungry hearts. He’s the only one who can fill the cracks and make us whole.

And a whole heart has room for others. A whole heart doesn’t stare aghast at the darkness. A whole heart runs heart-first towards the darkness. Why? Because that’s what Jesus did. What if he had left us in the dark? What if he had watched the scene playing out before him and cried out, “People, what’s wrong with you? You disgust me!” Thank God he didn’t! He came into our darkness. He ran into our brokenness. He scooped us up and said, “No, precious daughter of mine. You don’t have to dance for worth anymore!”

What’s wrong with us is our desperate need for Jesus. What’s wrong with our city, our country, and our world is our desperate need for Jesus. And those of us with the cure…will we hoard the riches we’ve been given, stand on our pedestals raving at the darkness, or will we step into the trenches and be a light in the darkness. Not a voice of shame, but a presence of light. Shame has never set anyone free.

Gideon saw the problems surrounding his nation and he cried out, “Do something, God!”

And guess how God responded?

“I’m sending you, Gideon!” (Judges 6:14)

So, my friend. Where are you today? Are you performing on your stage, the stage of motherhood, career, accomplishments, or abilities? These are mere dollars compared to how God sees you in Christ. Do you need a reminder today of who you are in Him?

You are lavishly loved by a God who calls you his child. (1 John 3:1). You have been made holy by a God wasn’t content to leave you in the dark (Ephesians 1:4). He’s brought you out of the kingdom of darkness and into his glorious light (Colossians 1:13).

You are chosen (1 Peter 1:2), set free (Acts 13:39), and redeemed (Isaiah 43:1).

You are healed (1 Peter 2:24), forgiven (1 John 2:12), and alive (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Or, do you need to pick your jaw up off the floor and remember that all that we have been given in Christ is meant to be given away? When we live loved, we give love! May the darkness we see in our world be a reminder that there are children, men, and women in bondage – both physical and spiritual. Let’s get out from behind our phones and computers and live this one life we’ve been given as if the next one matters!

How will we respond to the world we live in? We are here for such a time as this. This is our time. This is our place. How much longer will we wag our tongues, crying out, “Where are you God?”

His response is always the same.

I’m sending you, luv. I’m sending you.

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