I Give My Best to My Daughters
It was 7 pm on an ordinary Wednesday evening. That is, if any evening is “ordinary” once you’ve opened yourself to the urging of God’s Spirit. Lisa, the director of women’s ministries at BJM, was on her way home, picking up a gallon of milk at the corner store on Ellis and Jones. She pushed open the glass door and saw a young woman standing in the middle of the store, scraps of clothing hanging off her body, the bag on her shoulder splayed open, its contents falling to the floor all around her bare feet.
She was tall and slender, with dark wavy hair; make-up smeared across her face. She was pretty, really pretty. She might even have been beautiful under different circumstances. But in the middle of the store, hands shaking and panicked, she hardly seemed capable of buying a bag of chips.
Lisa recognized the woman as someone she’d seen on the streets, a woman who had clearly been involved in prostitution. She seemed lost in line, frantic and disoriented, as if she wasn’t quite sure where she was or how she got there. She attempted to pay for her purchase, one hand holding a package of chips, the other pawing through her bag. The rest of the shoppers watched as she struggled to handle herself.
Lisa approached her, “Why don’t you just put that back?” she said gently. She explained that she worked at women’s center down the street and invited the woman to walk back with her.
After some urging from both Lisa and the store employee, the woman agreed. Lisa put her arm around the woman’s back and the two walked to The Well. Because it was night and Lisa was alone, she couldn’t bring the woman inside. She explained that she was going in to get some clothes and snacks. She begged the woman to stay and wait, knowing how easily and often women in such positions get scared and run away.
Lisa dashed to the attic and began digging through donation boxes, picking out toiletries and make up, searching for shoes and articles of clothing. In the midst of her pawing and pulling she came across a large black tote bag—shiny, almost new, something that could hold all of the woman’s belongings.
Lisa’s excitement turned to disappointment as her mind turned to the woman. “She’s just going to lose it,” she thought looking at the bag and thinking of how quickly and easily someone could steal it, how easily things were lost in a life plagued by addiction. Then she checked her spirit.
“No, that’s for her,” she seemed to hear God saying. “I give my daughter’s my best all of the time, no matter what state they’re in.” It didn’t matter how long the woman would hold onto the bag, she still deserved to be treated with that kind of care.
Lisa added the bag to her pile and hurried back to the door. The woman was still there. The two hugged and Lisa prayed. The woman was grateful for the bag and the shoes, grateful to have someone authentically loving and valuing and giving to her.
“I have to go,” she said. Lisa offered to try calling for a bed, but the woman wasn’t interested.
It’s a common story and a hard one. Staff and volunteers can’t stay with women all night. We can’t follow them down the street to make sure they get back safely. We can’t take them home. We can’t make the choices we wish they would make. But we can help with some things. We can remind them of their worth. We can remember along with them that God always gives us his best.