Thursday, December 30, 2010

ship of dreams turned Classica nightmare, part 4

(Forthe beginning of this story, click here.)

When God seems no where to be found, it is prime opportunity for the enemy of our souls to gain a foothold.  

Apparently, I had caught the eye of one of the officers on board the ship.  He was handsome and charming.  After turning him down several times, he refused to take no for an answer, so I caved "just one time" and fell in love with a man who did not love Jesus.  I thought if I went out with him a couple of times, I would remain strong and not get in over my head.  Remember lessons #3 & 4 (from my 1st post in this series)?  This is where those apply.  Previously, I hadn't dated or kissed a guy in 3 years.  I simply was waiting for God's choice.  My guard was down and I trusted myself too much.  
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.  Who can know it?" ~Jeremiah 17:9
I had been journaling and reading my Bible up to this point and only desolation seemed to be found, and more trouble from Travis which was quickly spreading through the rest of the cast save the 3 girls who stuck close by my side.  
I was blamed for everything that went wrong during the shows, I was humiliated in front of the entire cast during rehearsals, I was talked about and criticized backstage.  I was the first one to clean up my costumes after the show so I could get away from these people and Travis would lock the costume closet so I couldn't put things away.  He stopped coming on stage when he was supposed to partner me and went into a rage when I asked him about it.  His best friend pushed me off the upstage platform during an exit one night.  The situation was becoming increasingly dangerous.  In January, I had knee surgery and so I wasn't willing to risk another injury.  The day after I had been pushed, I ran into another member of the cast (that dancer's roommate) who felt the need to tear me apart in the crew dining room, and I was at my limit.  I was livid and I was loud.  The company manager, James, useless as he was, heard me and tried to get me to calm down which only ignited my anger toward him for his incredible passivity and lack of action regarding the personal attacks I had endured the previous 5 months.  Also within earshot was the newly embarked Cruise Director who is a supervisor to the cast on board.  So, you can imagine the fabulous impression I was making on her.  I spoke directly to James and told him that I felt physically threatened and would no longer dance in any of the shows until he took care of the problems that had been occurring.  
That night I received an on-board phone call from my mom (at $2 a minute on her dime) informing me that she had spoken with Peter Grey Terhune, the president of the production company (Peter Grey Terhune Presents) in Florida, and he was firing me from my contract and not telling me about it until we ported in Naples the next day where I would be disembarked from the ship.  Their reason was that by refusing to participate in the shows, I had violated my contract.  
Payday was the next day and I never saw a dime of it until they had taken all of the costs of my hotel in Naples and my flight home.  When I left the ship, I had no lira (Italian money) and only a few U.S. dollars which I was unable to exchange.  So, I was taken to a hotel, unable to purchase food, and only was able to eat when I got on the plane the next day.  I had a throbbing headache, my back was spasming so I could hardly move, never mind the incredible disappointment of not finishing what I had started and feeling like a horrible failure.  I was utterly broken-hearted.

Bitter, skeptical of everyone and everything, betrayed, and angry, and I could do nothing about it.  They had destroyed me, gotten rid of me (on my own dime), successfully painted a picture of me as a wacko, and won.

I should have suspected something was up when a beautiful non-Christian friend of mine made a cross for me to take with me with this scripture passage on it.  She gave it to me in California before I left for my cruise contract.  It turned out to be prophetic of what lay ahead of me.
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.  You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;  For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." ~Matthew 10:16-20
Perhaps I should have pondered THOSE verses more in the midst of my experience.  Hindsight is 20/20.

The only positive I have ever been able to pull out of it is that I saw Italy and I loved it and I want more.  I met fascinating people from all over the world and adored them all.  I keep in touch with no one from that ship except the occasional hello from the boyfriend I had on board.  Nor do I want to have any connections.  The 3 friends I did have in the cast rejected me a year later when they saw how serious I was about the Lord and my convictions.  They called me hateful, a bigot, and told me to never contact them again and if I tried to email, they would delete the message.  This harsh response was cc-ed to many people on my own email list and so many of them responded in my defense for which I am deeply thankful.  Among them was my mom, Jamie, and Erika Huff.  The Lord truly is our defense.

And that's how it is.  I wish I could wrap this up in a nice pretty package and tie a bow on top to make it sound not as bad as it was.  But like I said earlier, I have never known why I went through this experience.  I have never known what great lesson I learned from it or how I can help another.  I have always been disappointed at my incredible failure to keep my Christian witness.

Maybe it's to not make a hasty decision no matter how badly you want it and how much you think it's God opening up the doors.  Maybe it's just to know that the world hates Jesus.  Maybe it's to not cast your pearls before swine.  Maybe it's to take heed where you stand, lest you fall.  Maybe it's not to defend yourself because sometimes it makes a bigger mess of things.  Maybe it's to endure under criticism and hatred with grace...even if it lasts a really long time and is really hard.  Maybe it's to embrace the great things in the midst of the bad.  Maybe it's to know that "vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord."

Maybe it's to stop feeling sorry for myself and know that harsh words, hurt feelings, emotional heartache, and rejection are indeed persecution, but nothing when compared to the truly persecuted church who suffers far more in various places all over the world...imprisonment, slavery, torture, and death...for successfully completing the mission I failed at in telling the world about the love and salvation of Jesus.

I don't know.  Perhaps someday I will.

But let me offer a few words of advice:
  • If you are a dancer and a Christian, don't go on a cruise ship unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have the strength and faith that can withstand the isolation and immorality that occurs there.  I am not a big party-type girl, so alcohol and sleeping around really doesn't appeal to me but it is a downfall of the majority of people on cruise ships.  They take no consideration of life outside the ship, but only live in the moment.  Ship life is not real life.
  • Never, I repeat NEVER, work for Peter Grey Terhune or for Costa Cruise Lines.  Sail on a Costa ship if you'd like but don't work for them.  The rules change once you're not in America.  We have sexual harassment laws and the like.  I had men/crew barking at me and complained and NOTHING was done.  And that was the most mild offense I experienced.  The cruise line is not managed well and there is zero accountability.  For example, we were told we'd be fired if we received 3 warnings.  Well, warnings are very easy to get.  I had 12...and I'm not typically the rule-breaking type.  I got a warning for owning an iron (brought it in my luggage from home), for taking my hair down before a fashion show, for having food in my room (even though the ship provided a refrigerator), oh and the list goes on.  Yes, I was canned but not for any of my horrific crimes against the great Costa Classica.  

Please read on for the things I am able to glean that brought me joy in the midst of a very trying time.

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