My routine on Sundays recently has been to come home after second service at New Life, lounge on the couch, and watch NFL football while dozing in and out of consciousness. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, and usually a nice break before heading back for the evening worship service. This was exactly my routine a few days ago, and as I strolled down the street to where I parked my car, it could have easily been an ordinary and almost forgettable Sunday afternoon.
As I got closer to my car, I noticed a guy crouched in front of it, squatting between my Corolla and the SUV parked right in front. He had long hair, a hat, and really dirty clothes on, and the thought running through my head was, “Great, this ruins the picture-perfect afternoon I was hoping for.” But then it didn’t take long before I realized two things: First, it wasn’t a guy; it was a woman. Second, this woman was peeing in front of my car. Anger quickly turned to confusion and panic because it didn’t look like this woman was going to get up anytime soon. She just stayed right there, squatting and leaning back against my license plate. I thought maybe I could get in and start the car so that she would get the hint, but that didn’t feel right at all. The pseudo-New Yorker in me thought about an indignant remark, asking her what she thought she was doing and barking at her to get out of there. But I couldn’t do it. All I could do was mutter a few times, “Ma’am, this is my car.” Nothing. So I got in my car and waited. I couldn’t look at her, so I looked across the street and watched as onlookers walked down the sidewalk, paused to look, and then shook their heads at what they saw. Finally, this woman stood up, sat on the hood of my car, pulled up her pants, and walked away toward the sidewalk. I caught a glimpse of her face behind the hair and the hat and the dirt, and she was probably in her early thirties, if that. My heart sank to my stomach and stayed down there as I drove to church.
I’ve thought about this woman a lot the last couple days. It makes me sad. Uncomfortable. Angry. This woman had lost her dignity. She had been stripped of her beauty. I would rather that I didn’t have to see her, huddled in front of my car. I’ve seen drunken guys peeing all over the place and not cared a bit. But this was different. It isn’t right that she had to live this way. It makes me sad.
Jesus found himself around women who had lost their dignity, who lived in shame privately or publicly. There is the story of the sinful woman in Luke 7 who kisses Jesus’ feet and washes them with her hair, her tears, and her perfume. Everyone around her thought about how shameful she was and how Jesus shouldn’t even be around her. That passage seems a little more real to me now. The love of God really is amazing.