...that is the question that has been on my mind and heart for the past couple of days. Actually, it's also been the past couple of nights too as I have been waking in the night with the question on my mind...What if you didn't have clean panties?
As I was pouring my coffee this morning and thinking about writing this post to my blog, I remembered something my mom told me about myself as a child. she said that when I was a very small girl I always had a "thing" about clean panties. She said that when I was a toddler and learning to use the big girl potty, she had to be very careful to make sure that my white, Buster Brown panties, didn't slip from my legs and fall to the floor or they would surely have to be changed. She said that I simply refused to have them back on my body, because once they had been on the floor they were now "dirty" and couldn't be worn until they were washed. I remembered that story just 10 minutes ago.
Now here I am many years later. I still have a thing about clean panties. I am sitting in our spare bedroom where we keep our computers. In the next room...our bedroom...where my knight in somewhat rusty armor is sleeping...I have a chest of drawers. In that chest are two drawers that are stuffed so full they are hard to close. One has socks. I love fresh, clean socks. The other one is full to overflowing with panties. Clean....Fresh...Panties. I still have a "thing" about clean panties. I have been known to change them more than once a day...like if they fall on the floor when I use the big girl potty! No, not really. I have overcome my panties on the floor phobia. But, having clean, fresh panties is very much a big deal to me.
That brings me, finally, to the subject of this blog post!
On Thursday night I went out with a group from our church, headed up by my friend and employer, Zac. We went downtown to visit with the homeless. We brought food to give them. And water. But, honestly it felt like the food and water were secondary. the biggest thing was really just visiting with them, listening to them, sitting with them, sometimes praying for them. But mostly just being willing to sit down on the sidewalk and "be" with them.
I have to admit that, at first, I was terrified! I am, by nature, a very shy person. It's not easy for me to begin a conversation or make small talk with people I don't know. I have avoided going out with this group for a long time because I have been afraid. This time I was told that a special friend of mine was going to be there and she would need someone to partner up with, too. Somehow that helped me to face my fear and just go and do it! (Natalie, honey, you ROCK!!!)
So we all piled into the van with our bags of bagels, and hamburgers and water and off we headed...from the comfort and security of sitting in our living rooms in front of our televisions...to the streets of downtown San Diego. My boss said, at one point, "There is a great energy in this group tonight." I replied, "That's TERROR you are feeling!!!" This was so far out of my comfort zone, I can't even begin to tell you!
I could go on and on about our experience that night, but this is already becoming a very long post! So I'll cut to the heart of what I want to say.
As we were out there, walking the streets, sitting on the sidewalk. ...can I just take one more little rabbit trail here and say that there was something surreal about sitting on the sidewalk with people who were about to make it their bedroom for the night, while other people walked by, going about their lives, pretending not to notice, or maybe just feeling weird about walking through this makeshift "bedroom," on the same sidewalk!? Very surreal indeed! Anyway, as I was saying, we were out there and I was just completely struck with the reality of the WOMEN who are out there. I mean, I knew there were women out there...of course I knew it. But I didn't really "get it." It was made very real to me on Thursday night, as I sat on the sidewalk, among these people I too have walked by, time after time, feeling uncomfortable, not knowing what to say or do, and just keeping my head down and hurrying by, as I go about my life....but sitting with them.....knowing their names...Remember this post, when I talked about God knowing my name? He knows their names too...and now so do I. Well, not all of their names. But I do know a few. I met Deborah, and Anita, and Wendy, and Nicole. I sat on the sidewalk and visited with these women. We talked about where they came from, how long they had been in the streets, their families, their fears, my fears. The point is we talked. They became real people in my mind and heart...not just "The Homeless"...some anonymous segment of society.....now they are real people and I know some of their names. Now they are Deborah, and Anita, and Wendy, and Nicole.
So here's the real point of this blog post. As I sat there with these different women, who for whatever reason, are now living in the streets, the one thing that kept coming up in my mind...and continues to almost haunt me is this thought....
What if you didn't have any clean panties? What if you found yourself on the streets? What if you didn't have lotion to put on your hands when they felt all dry and rough? What if you didn't have access to wet wipes for "those" times? What if it was "that time of the month" and you didn't have feminine products? Or a hairbrush?
So, I have decided that I have to help. I am going to be putting together some type of personal hygiene packets to give out to these women when I go out there. I am still praying and researching the best items to put in these packets...but I do know this much...one of the items will be a clean, fresh, pair of panties.
Now what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he "has faith" if his actions do not correspond with it? Could that sort of faith save anyone's soul? If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, "Good luck to you I hope you'll keep warm and find enough to eat", and yet give them nothing to meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that? Yet that is exactly what a bare faith without a corresponding life is like - useless and dead. If we only "have faith" a man could easily challenge us by saying, "you say that you have faith and I have merely good actions. Well, all you can do is to show me a faith without corresponding actions, but I can show you by my actions that I have faith as well."
To the man who thinks that faith by itself is enough I feel inclined to say, "So you believe that there is one God? That's fine. So do all the devils in hell and shudder in terror!" For, my dear short-sighted man, can't you see far enough to realise that faith without the right actions is dead and useless? (James 2:14-20 Phillip's translation)
- We know and, to some extent realise, the love of God for us because Christ expressed it in laying down his life for us. We must in turn express our love by laying down our lives for those who are our brothers. But as for the well-to-do man who sees his brothers in want but shuts his eyes - and his heart - how could anyone believe that the love of God lives in him? My children, let us not love merely in theory or in words - let us love in sincerity and in practice! (1 John 3:16-18 Phillip's translation)