The plight I was told of yesterday is the difficulty of getting back up when you’re this low, of the judgment that comes through the eyes of others when you’re not put together.
Two women. Each with different stories. Reasons she has fallen so far.
“If only I could get a job …”
“I don’t know how to help myself any more …”
“It’s so hard to do this alone.”
Even still, we talked of Scripture and theology. One of them schooled me on how God works through Scripture. “You see, you may not need to learn what I need to. So I may read a passage and feel convicted by it, and you may read the same one and not feel it.”
We talked of a personal God, of the person Jesus, who told us “it is better that I leave you, for if I do not go the Helper will not come to you.” Our Helper, the Spirit, who lives and breathes and dances in us, quickening our hearts to the Lord’s way for us and the Lord’s work in us.
One of them, the one who goes by a pseudonym, a name like “Baby Girl,” explained why she won’t give me her real name ...
These names, these false names, are a thing of safety for women on the streets. “Baby Girl” won’t give me her real name for fear of “men finding it out and trying to come onto me.”
Baby Girl dresses beautifully – tiny frame, fitted pants, salmon-colored sweater. She looks of spring. Yesterday is the most she has ever talked to me. Not until yesterday did I understand that what I perceived as standoffish-ness is really self-preservation.
She tells me, “I walk to the business district. If I put on casual clothes, wear a backpack, the judgment seeps through their eyes. But when I dress like this, I can fit in anywhere.”
There is low – and then there is low. “Low” walked in as we were laughing and chatting: sunken, dark eyes; bones showing through skin. Low whispered to me, “I am at the point again where I really don’t want to live.” She didn’t have to tell me; a wave of death preceded her entrance.
Before yesterday, I knew. Others had whispered of her relapse: “She has been using again for a while.” She exhales despair and hopelessness as she passes me on her way out the door. “Pray for me.” She pushes the metal bar to leave.
Then, she pauses. I ask: “Can I pray now?”
Sobered by our touch with death, silence descends on the room. We bow our heads to ask our Father for rescue and life for our friend.