I have an interesting job, every day is different. But the most interesting part is the people who I work with. Let me share with you in general terms the types of people I have come to love. These descriptions are a combination of many people and not any one person specifically.
There is the exotic dancer who lives out of a cheap hotel, existing on the only thing she knows how to do.
There is the young gay man looking for real, true love but instead settles for one sexual liaison after another, each one leaving him a little emptier than the one before.
There is the alcoholic who tells me his dreams for the future.
There is the heroin user terrified that she contracted HIV from having to use sex to buy her next fix.
There is the teenage mother with two kids and the possibility of another one the way, seeking an abortion, who is physically and sexually abused by her much older live in boyfriend.
There is the person so desperate for companionship that he is willing to sacrifice it all to find that one true love.
And there are those whom I have to give the news that they are infected with HIV. Some already sensed that they might be, to others it comes as a complete surprise. I try to comfort them, sometimes they are so overwrought that they crumble into my arms and sob.
And there are those that I have seen die from AIDS.
There are so many more, day after day they come. They share their lives with me. In some cases I marvel that in spite of all the crap they have gone through they are still alive. Some days my heart hurts with all the pain people have. Other days my heart rejoices in the joys that come into their lives.
I love them. They are real and open and most of the time honest.
One thing that they are not is a label, or a cultural issue. They are living, breathing humans created in the image of God, with talents, and abilities and marvelous qualities.
We (the church) like labels. It is so much easier to reject or condemn someone if we see them as a thing rather than a person.
We reject the drug user as a “junkie, or crackhead” never thinking that he may be self medicating to numb the emotional pain in his life.
We reject the sex worker as a “whore” never thinking that she has several family member to support.
We reject the single parent as a “welfare mom” never thinking that her parents may have kicked her out of the house for being pregnant. (One of the most revolting bumper stickers I’ve seen says “keep working, millions on welfare depend on it”)
We think that because we have a house or a car, a job or a bank account that people should just be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work hard. We thank God that we are not like those sinners….and all the while God is saying to the church, like the church in Laodicea, “Your apathy and arrogance makes Me want to throw up. Stop judging and condemning and start to show love and mercy and grace and forgiveness. The people living in this world of pain and darkness and loneliness and sin need it. They need to know that there is so much more.”