This past December, I participated in a campaign known as Dressember, which is a worldwide movement to not only raise awareness about human trafficking but to also raise funds to support organizations currently working on the front lines. Dressember is centered around a style challenge where you wear a dress or tie every day of December; which is hard enough before you add in the below-freezing temperatures that accompany the chilly winter months. This was my third year advocating through Dressember, and it was the most challenging campaign yet.
It can be hard to keep your motivation alive at the best of times when it comes to fighting injustice, but when you add in sub-zero temperatures and billowing dresses, it can be exceptionally hard at times to find the will power to keep going. I’ll admit that there were times when I didn’t want to put on another dress, either because it was -25 Celsius outside or because I was tired of my horses always running away from me. There were days that I was tired of feeling like I was just another voice shouting into the void about something no one cared about. I found strength in these moments through my community at church, from work, from friends and family, and the fantastic online advocate groups. They reminded me why I was pulling on three pairs of sweatpants underneath a dress, and they brought me back to the pull in my heart for justice.
Along with a lack of motivation this December, I found myself wading through the muck and mire of comparison. I looked around at other advocates – at my friends – and the money that they had raised and I felt inadequate. While their fundraising meters when up and up, mine stayed as frozen as the weather outside. I was so focused on being the best, on being a good team leader, on “making a difference” that I completely missed the mark. Advocating isn’t about being the loudest voice in the room; it’s about helping other people join the choir. I had been so focused on showing others that I was a “good advocate” because I could raise hundreds of dollars that I lost sight of the fact that connecting with people is more important than raising money. Treating people like people and not as a means to an end is at the very heart of abolition. It didn’t matter if I raised five dollars or five thousand dollars, what mattered was that people felt known and were beginning to see the light in the darkness, either for the first time or the fifty-first time.
Once I took my attention away from how much money I was raising and put it back on the heart of why I was advocating, everything changed. As I wrote about before, I advocate out of love. A love for every person, a love that calls for freedom from bondage, and a love that can break the chains of slavery. Only when I returned to the fountain of God’s divine love, only when I aligned my heart with His desire for justice was I able to see past the comparison to the impact.
This Dressember was the most difficult one for me to date, but it was also the one that I saw the most breakthrough, not just in myself but in others as well. Not only did I meet my initial fundraising goal, but I also met my stretch goal, raising more than I ever thought I could. More importantly, I saw friends take up the fight, I was lives change and perspectives shift. I saw people from all over the world band together and stand up against the darkness invading our society. I witnessed people refuse to be silent any longer, and it was beautiful. It doesn’t matter if you raise money or if you raise your voice; what matters is that you’re drawing attention to hurting people and calling people towards action rather than turning the other way.
Thank you to everyone who joined in and supported me this past month, you are all world changers and modern-day abolitionists. Together we can see an end to slavery in our lifetime, and together we can shine the light of love into the darkness.