Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bikini Consequences

Bikini Contest = Big Mistake
Long Term Consequences = Unknown

I was awake and my mind was spinning at 4 AM, when I remembered an event that I haven't shared with too many people. About one year prior to coming to know the Lord, and making the decision to live my life in a way that would bring Him honor, I vacationed with a few friends at "The River" for a weekend. There were three of us and we worked together as cashiers & hostesses at a local steakhouse.

I remember very little about the weekend, except for one event. Late Saturday afternoon, on the edge of the riverbed, a few young men in a burgundy pick-up truck, announced, with music blaring in the background, that they would be having a "bikini contest". All young women were invited to join. (Really? How inclusive of them.) My friends and I were intrigued because they were offering a cash prize to the winner. All that we would have to do is stand in the back of the truck and dance to the music in our bikinis, and we would be eliminated based on the amount of applause we got when the one of the young men placed their hand over our heads. Two of us decided to participate. I barely remember the girl who did the dancing with me that day. But, I'll never forget my friend, Kathy, who did not. She stood back and watched. She didn't tell us that we shouldn't, she was just sure that she wouldn't. I remember that somehow, certainly not due to my dancing ability, I made it to the final cut. It was me and one other 20-something woman dancing in the back of a pick-up truck, in front of a group of drunken, male strangers, all in the hope of winning 50 bucks. I didn't win, I lost to another lost soul.

Visualizing it, recording it through keystroke, imagining you reading it--makes me feel nauseous today. Years later, I realized that the whole event was demoralizing and perverse, and I wish that I had made a different choice.

But, here's the part that hurts even more. A few months after we returned home from the river trip, Kathy got a second job. She wouldn't tell me where it was, just that it was on a very busy street near our home, Beach Blvd. She said that she was a "dancer", and that she was making way more money working there than she made working as a hostess. She told me that after she saw how much attention I had received at the river, she realized that she was jealous of me, and wanted to see if she would be good at it. She said that she was getting more attention than she had ever received in her life. I told her that I wanted to come see her dance at the club. She said that would never happen. She told me that she couldn't take the chance of them finding out she wasn't 21 years old, and that she didn't want me to see her take off her clothes.

Thomas Merton says in his book, "No Man Is an Island"
"Every other man is a piece of myself, for I am a part and a member of mankind...What I do is also done for them and with them and by them. What they do is done in me and by me and for me. But each one of us remains responsible for his own share in the life of the whole body."

I am reminded that over the years, being the wife of a Youth Pastor, young women have followed my advice and my example and I have been able to reap the rewards of watching their fruitful lives and ministries. But, I also cannot forget that there is another young woman who, while following my example, went down a road that I can only hope did not lead to a lifetime of regret.

Everything we do will have an effect on other people and, eventually, society as a whole. This is why it is so important that we choose wisely. Even while writing this post, I question myself, "Should I reveal this? I have a teenage son. I have a husband in the ministry. Is this proper to talk about?" And then I remember, that I decided a long time ago that I was going to be completely transparent with the good and the bad. When I present my ugly past to the Lord for His use He burns away the scum and the slime and the leaves me with ashes of beauty. My life has never been solely my own, my life is part of a bigger societal and eternal picture--so is yours.

"It is therefore of supreme importance that we consent to live not for ourselves but for others." ---Thomas Merton