When in Doubt, Throw a Party!
I'll never forget the day we celebrated a survivor's birthday for the first time in her life. No one had ever decorated the room with bright streamers or balloons to bring a smile to her face. No one had ever sung Happy Birthday to her or baked a cake so she could make a wish and blow out the candles. But that day, we did. She was seen and celebrated in the Wings of Refuge safe home, probably for the very first time at the age of 25. Through her body language, I could tell that the whole concept of a party to celebrate her was foreign. After she opened a few presents that had been thoughtfully picked out for her (like a Star Trek t-shirt and Lisa Frank folders - remember those? She loved the 90s!), she sat staring at her gifts and asked “Why would people who don’t even know me be so nice to me?” My heart broke. It broke because I couldn’t imagine a childhood without a single birthday party and being told that I was a burden and not worthy of recognition. But there was hope because she was finally learning the truth about her worth and that she was a delight!
This woman had been through unspeakable trauma due to familial trafficking that started when she was a young girl. It stole nearly everything from her: she came to Wings quiet, fearful, and withdrawn. She even voiced concerns about healing because she might lose some of the skills and habits that had allowed her to survive and she assumed eventually she would be trafficked again. Her life story was absolutely tragic from the very beginning, but it didn’t end that way. As she was loved and supported at Wings, she blossomed! Her smile came back, she discovered new interests and talents, and she found peace and joy. Praise God for His faithfulness!
At Wings of Refuge, we celebrate everything. Birthdays, of course, and holidays, sobriety milestones, 30-60-90-days in the program, baptisms, graduations, breakthroughs, you name it!
Our founder once said “We are party planners for the Kingdom” and I love that idea - not only for Wings of Refuge but for all Christ followers. Jesus has already overcome sin, shame, and death and if we have surrendered our lives to Him, we are co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). That means we are forgiven, free, welcomed home, and share in His glory. We have nothing to lose! What if we lived in light of that reality? How might our lives look differently?
So when in doubt, throw a party! Celebrate and give thanks to God every chance you get because lives change when you do!