“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
I wrote yesterday about a parenting class I was at this weekend. What I failed to mention was that during our class, a woman had wandered in off the street. She was obviously drunk or high or both. She was terribly distracting and refused to leave. When people tried to convince her to leave she pointed out that this was a church and then proceeded to cuss everyone out. It was not only disturbing, it was also strange. I mean, I’ve never really been confronted with this type of situation. I live my nice, safe life and am sure not to notice such things. I generally turn my head because honestly, it’s sad to look at. Yet here we were, in our nice little class and in wandered this inebriated and possibly homeless woman. I’m sure it happens all the time since my church is located within close proximity of a bar, but I have just never observed such a thing. All I could think about for the rest of the night was that we are the church and we are supposed to minister to people.
I don’t know it just bothered me to see someone in such a state. She was unreasonable and eventually they had to ask the police to take her away. She was a mess and obviously unable to comprehend what was going on. But she absolutely refused to leave. In fact, she found her way to the middle of the room and sat herself down at a table and proceeded to sob. I’m sure it was the drugs or alcohol, but my heart really went out to her. When she was finally confronted with the police, she quietly got up and left with them. She didn’t cuss at them. She didn’t resist. She didn’t make excuses, she just left. It was almost as if they had given her what she wanted.
Later that evening, after was all said and done, my husband and I talked about what a crazy evening it was. Then my husband said something that made me so very sad. He suggested that she was trying to get arrested so that she would have a bed to sleep in that night. I don’t know if that was what she was trying to do, but I’m sure there are people that do exactly that. And I started to think about the fact that for some people jail is the absolute worst. They would do anything to avoid it. I certainly would never want to go there. But for others, it’s a step up from where they usually live. It’s air conditioned. There’s a mattress and even a pillow. And for them, it’s enough. I guess one man’s prison is another man’s refuge.
This whole ordeal just made me think that I don’t even have a clue about how rough the world out there can be. I have no idea how hard some people have it. Things must be pretty bad for this woman if she intentionally was arrested just so she would have a safe place to lay her head at night. I think sometimes we in America are so wealthy, we lose sight of reality. We spend our days trying to lose weight because we continue to overeat and yet there are those who live around the corner scrounging for a scrap of food. We are struggling to pay off debt for things we insist on having to make our lives more comfortable. And yet, there are people who can’t even make enough money to rent a place to live. We have so much and yet we are never satisfied.
For me, this was a good reality check. It gave me some perspective. I understand we will always have the poor. Jesus said so. I also understand that some people in dire circumstances are there because of the choices they have made. I also understand that some people would rather stay there then change their circumstances. But some have not chosen the life they’ve received. Some have just found themselves living on the street because that’s all they can afford. I think it just helped me to come back to the realization that if I have a place to call home, I am blessed. If I have food in the pantry, I am taken care of. And it helps me to see that there is a lost and dying world out there that is so very big. I’m not sure what God wants me to do with this, but I’m sure there’s a plan in there.