There Was An Old Lady… A Sex-Change, Homeless Old Lady
Just as I’m walking out of Rona, pieces in hand to fix my kitchen sink, she enters. She who had been a he. I recognize her from when I was sitting on the sidewalk with my buddy Aaron and Lars. Today she’s wearing a long winter coat and a wide-brimmed hat. Her hair is still neon red.
I turn back around and consider heading into the store to say Hi, but she’s dragging a suitcase behind her and is already being helped by a sales rep. She’s still homeless.
I waffle about staying as I walk to my car. God, is this Your timing?
I’ll wait outside, but not for long. I just want to get out of here. I’m sick. I want that stupid sink fixed…
You have a sink. You’ll fix it today. Patience.
I wait. Five minutes.
She walks out.
I wave and explain as I approach, “Hi. We met the other week on the sidewalk. How are you doing? Do you have a place yet?”
The conversation is a little one-sided. She sold everything left from her marriage–reading chair, her husband’s oil lamp collection–everything except her car and a small camper. But she’s being hassled about where she can park that camper. Our town’s Walmart isn’t safe anymore. The mall security men threaten to get her towed. Random stories from her sex change and the abuse she used to get from the cops get thrown into the mix in snippets.
All I can say is, “I’m sorry.”
Because I am.
She tells me how the moments of her husband’s death have changed her. She mentions that, “Hopefully, when we die, we go someplace better than this. Is it me? Is it because I’m old, or does the world seem like it’s getting worse?”
I could dial the conversation back to the hope for heaven. I could mention Jesus. I could mention Him coming back and the world being made right…
But at this moment, she needs someone to agree with her. Wrong has been done to her. Systematic, bureaucratic wrong. She has been beaten and violated in the past. More wrong. She’s being harassed now for being homeless and helpless. Throwing the ‘you-need-Jesus’ blanket statement at her would be… wrong.
Not that it’s not true. We all need Jesus.
But in this moment, at this time, she needs to be heard.
“Thank you for stopping,” she says as we shake hands goodbye. “Thank you for caring.”
(I’m including this in my Answer Well series because it’s an example of being led in conversation–and being led to conversation–and how God wants us to show compassion. To read the series in order, click Answer Well)
Next: Don’t Go It Alone
(Why no eyes? Because the homeless can’t see? No. Because the eyes show the soul, and that’s the thing we all most desperately hide when we’re wounded.)