I was walking with my team through the back alleys and shady little corners in the red light district of Quito. We stopped to talk to a young girl standing alone in a dark side street who claimed she was 20 but looked much younger than that. We’ll call her B.

B was very quiet, very shy, very beautiful and very reserved; obviously unsure of us or our intentions. She held her small body, shivering in the cold night. Her eyes were kind, though nervous, as she looked quickly back and forth between us all. To be honest, sometimes the introvert in me panics a little when confronted with another introvert. The girls who are loud and outgoing and wild are so much easier to talk to – they require less, on the spot, from me and that’s easier. They talk and talk and talk, and it gives me space to tap into the right words to say. But easier isn’t always good. Sometimes being on the spot is exactly what you need in order to actually take a risk.

I knew it was time to pull on Jesus, or this opportunity to speak over this young, fragile life would be missed. And I didn’t want to miss it. Her eyes were too full of a longing for love that is hard to even explain.

I started speaking the truth that I know in my bones; the truth that Jesus loves her exactly where she is, for exactly who she is. He isn’t ashamed or angry with her. He isn’t distant or uninterested in her. He loves, with all He is, for all she is.

I took a leap of faith and spoke out things I felt in my spirit to be true about her and her life, though I did not know for certain. They were things I shouldn’t know about a stranger. Many people call this ‘words of knowledge’- attaining knowledge of someone’s life or a situation without a logical explanation for gaining that insight. It is a way that the Holy Spirit communicates many times, whispering truth into my spirit for another person. I spoke those things out to her, things she only kept hidden in her soul, not telling the world around her. Her fears, her struggle with certain things about herself, and what God is actually saying about it all. As I spoke them out, she started laughing and covering her face in astonishment, her eyes filling with tears and then laughing again in amazement that someone knew. Someone saw. Someone called out who she is deep down. It broke the timidity off her, it broke her distance and reserved being. She became alive. Her eyes settled and light poured from her face.

And do you know why she became alive? Because she was seen. Past the exterior, past the facade that girls like her are taught to perfect (maybe we’re all taught to perfect), past the hurt and shame and guilt; her soul, her beauty, her truth was seen. Her wrestling, her questions, her confusion were seen – and they weren’t rejected, they weren’t shamed.  They were calmed.

Stepping outside of comfort zones can be scary – terrifying actually. What if we say the wrong thing? What if we look stupid? What if we’re rejected? What if we fail? What….what if?

I’m there with you.

There have been so many times I’ve known I should step out in faith and haven’t. I kept my mouth closed, I kept walking. I didn’t feel like risking. I didn’t want to possibly fail. Deep down, I didn’t trust that I heard from God. So I turned myself away from His voice. And you know what? Those are the moments I look back on in life and regret the most. They’ll still happen; we’re all human and risk isn’t always the first choice for a fun activity. But it’s necessary. What if I hadn’t opened my mouth? What if I had stayed safe in that moment and just kept it surface and shallow and kept walking? She wouldn’t have gotten that moment, that face-to-face with her God. She wouldn’t have been seen. The risk to step out is so worth it; to see someone standing in front of you when they fully realize that God sees them. God understands the cries of their heart. God listens to the confusion inside of them. I don’t want to live depriving someone else of an encounter with the King of Glory, the King of Love.

Each of us so profoundly longs to be known, and that’s the utter beauty of God. He knows us, He sees us perfectly, and He longs to use us to speak worth and truth and vulnerability to each other. It’s risky to be vulnerable. It always is, whether you are standing in front of a prostitute telling her things she hasn’t ever told anyone else, or if you are sitting across from your friend opening your soul and pain and joy, or even sharing your vulnerability with God, hoping He doesn’t reject or judge in that moment. It’s all risky. It’s all scary. It’s always possible to fail. But try we must, risk we must, put ourselves on the line (over and over and over again) for the sake of love, for the sake of knowing and being known.

(This song has been on repeat in my room lately. I want in over my head. Lets live a life in over our heads. Drowning in the goodness and beauty of God.)