Today I saw a hooker for the first time.
I went into Spokane with some friends to check out the Tin Roof, a local furniture/decorating/general coolness store. I was in an allergy-induced fog, but I think everyone had a pretty good time. I picked up a set of three paintings for 20 bucks. Can’t really get any better than that.
After a few hours shopping around and drooling over things that we couldn’t possibly afford, we left with a couple of good deals under our arms and a desire to hit the homesteads to chill. One of the gals hadn’t eaten lunch, and so we stopped at Zips so she could pick up some fries and a shake.
And there she was, across the street. I’m guessing she was maybe in her late 20’s to early 30’s. She wore a short denim skirt and a loose black tank top. Make the skirt a little longer and it’s something I would’ve worn, only change the heels for flip flops. I didn’t get a close up look, but she seemed to be relatively attractive.
I felt sick inside. I know there are many reasons and many situations that cause people to feel so hopeless that they resort to such lifestyles. I don’t condemn them for it. They, of all people on this planet, are the ones who most deserve our compassion. You see, there but for the grace of God, go I. How can it be that she is on the streets and I am not? What difference in temperament, what choices, what avenues do we travel that are so opposite?
What bothers me most is I didn’t get out of the car and ask her if she was hungry. Let her pimp come; whatever. Any man that resorts to such things is a big coward, and I refuse to be afraid. I could have unbuckled my seatbelt, slipped out the door, and simply asked if she’d like a burger. She probably would have said no. And that would’ve been okay. But I didn’t even ask.
Instead I burned with anger as a few comments of fascination flew around. Anger that none of us reached out to her, anger that she was in that spot, anger with whoever made her feel that way.
It’s not enough, is it, to sit in our tidy small groups and study the Bible and encourage each other? It’s not enough, is it, to go to church and sing some songs and hear a message? These things are good, useful, and an important part of the Christian life. But an even bigger part is sharing our hope with others. Our role isn’t to change hearts, and it’s not to beat anyone over the head. God takes care of working on people. Our role is as simple as stopping and asking for permission to buy a burger for a stranger.
It’s as simple as loving people and telling them the truth.
Why are we so afraid? Why don’t we just open our mouths and speak the words? How can we have this hope inside of us, this joy and peace, and not share it? The answer, perhaps is threefold: we don’t even get just what it is that Jesus has done for us, we can’t see past the ends of our own noses and we’re conditioned to be ashamed to follow Christ. Plain and simple. It’s pounded into us by our culture, and we, in our own selfishness, choose it. I can’t imagine Jesus turning away from that woman. I can’t even imagine His disciples turning away from her.
Except…wait. I’m a disciple.