Saturday, November 28, 2015


I had just spent a lovely afternoon with my friend and after praying together, I walked her to the metro to catch her train back home. As we stood outside the station saying our goodbyes, an older, obviously inebriated man stumbled over to us.

Parenthetically: I DO live in the middle of a pretty big city. I have regular encounters with addicts, homeless people, and beggars. Earlier that same afternoon my friend and I had given a few bucks to a young, injured musician. He was from eastern Europe, didn't speak any French, only a little English, and he told us that because of his broken arm he was unable to play his guitar, which is why he was begging on the street. He simply said, "I have two choices, steal or beg, and I'm not a thief." I wished I could've taken the poor guy home with me, but I knew that wasn't the answer. So we each gave him a little spare change, hoping it would at least add up to a warm meal. I'm just telling you this so that you know that while I clearly can't meet every need I see on the street, I try to stay open to the possibility that God might be leading me to help some from time to time.

But when the older drunk guy headed for us, I inwardly rolled my eyes. I was trying to savor my last few minutes with a friend, I didn't want to be interrupted, and I had no more loose change on me. I avoided making eye contact and hoped he would stagger in a different direction.

He didn't.

He came right up into our personal space, such that both my friend and I instinctively took a subtle half-step backwards as we inhaled the scent of stale beer. "What does he want?" I thought, annoyed. He simply looked at us and said, "Vous ĂȘtes belles." You're beautiful. I was suspicious of his motives, but my friend smiled sweetly and said, "Merci !" Thank you. And he walked away.

My friend parted, and I quickly forgot the whole encounter. Two hours later David and I headed to evening prayer. Our pastor was there with his wife and two young children. We shared about our days and thanked God for the ways and places that we had seen His hand at work among us. I mentioned my time with my friend. I didn't mention the drunk guy.

After praying, David and I got up to leave. But I was stopped by Alicia, our pastor's 4-old daughter who ran up to me and hugged my knees. I stroked her hair and looked into her eyes. Then she reached up towards me and I instinctively bowed down. She gently stroked my face twice and said, "Tu es belle." You're beautiful.

It was the second time in the span of a few hours that I had heard those words, and the coincidence did not escape my notice.

Only my response to the two encounters was completely different. I felt invaded by one, but envelopped by the other. I stepped away from one, but moved toward the other. I was deeply suspicious of one, but fully trusting of the other. I was annoyed by one interruption, but charmed by the other. And yet, in the end, neither needed or wanted anything from me. Both the old man and the young child offered blessing. One came in a package I rejected, the other in a package I received.

It makes me think of how often Jesus welcomed the love of the unlovely. Both outcasts and small children were invited into his personal space. He never took a half-step back. Jesus moves towards.

I want to be like him.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Jen! Thank you for sharing this. Yes, me too... I want to be like Jesus.