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Friday, April 24, 2009

The Night I ACCIDENTALLY Picked Up A Prostitute

Rather than hit you with the surprise later on in my narrative, I decided to just mention the full implication of this experience in the title. Thereby inciting further interest. And greater perseverance with my somewhat lengthy anecdotes. But who isn't curious now?

I had journeyed down to Orlando, Florida. A friend from the beautiful state of Washington whom I haven't seen in years was attending this conference on church planting. He urged me to attend. I consented in the hope of avoiding the large ramification. i.e. paying the ridiculous conference fee of $275. And even bumming a few nights in a hotel. All of which I accomplished while spending time with this friend and going to a few lectures and classes here and there.

But my last night there. I left the guys in my hotel room to go grab a bite for supper. It was late. After 11 pm. I didn't tell the guys in my room, but I was in a sort of funk. A little down. I was tired of church talk. Tired of church things. Everyone around me seems to have grand plans and dreams for God. While, I eek my existence as a selfish bastard, completely oblivious to roping people in...as another replica of myself. I have no calling like these people do. For some strange reason I feel the spirit of God furthest from me in the presence of hyped up evangelistic people in mega churches. I can be so full of doubts in such situations. And when i had finished eating I pulled up to a gas station near the hotel. There was this woman standing in the parking lot with what seemed to be her thumb out. Begging for a ride. I told her that I didn't know just yet. That I had to think about it while I pumped gas. She was a white woman in her 40's. Maybe older. She might've been really pretty once, but this had all been smeared and ransacked into something fatigued and haggard. Her clothes were very plain. And her brown hair pulled back into a frizzy pony tail. She was a wreck of something wholly lost and pined for. The castaway refuse of those Magic Kingdom towers in a shattered Disney World dream. I began pumping gas, while she tried to convince me in what a dire situation she was in. No money. No car. Nothing, but the pleadings of a broken-down Cinderella.
I am no idiot. I knew the possibility of what she could be. But she needed a ride not far from the gas station and I am one that actually considers picking up hitchhikers. Especially when they are female, vulnerable, and liable to be picked up by complete monsters. So I tossed the options in my head. I also wondered if she wasn't a prostitute she could very well be a cop posing as a prostitute. Which could have me in some serious trouble. Only for helping another person out. But this I soon dismissed because I had seen a Cops episode where the undercover hooker could not prosecute the client until he consented to the business deal. This, of course, would not happen. But it could very well be that she was only a luckless woman that really, really needed a ride to her home.

So, I told her to hop in. And as she shut the door, this pervasive, rich perfume wafted the entire interior of my car which confirmed all my suspicions.
As she directed where I should go, she began talking about how hard life was for her. How she had just gotten a job and she named the place which I can't remember. And then added on,
"Oh, but I hope you don't judge me or anything. But I do what I can to get by."
I tried changing the subject, "Now, how far is this place that you want me to take you? You know I'm not too familiar with Orlando."

"Oh, don't worry, dear. I'll show you. It's not far. I really appreciate you driving me. Life is really so difficult right now. But I am willing to do anything to get by.
And then she finally threw the question at me.
"So I guess you wouldn't be interested in THAT, would you?

"Nope, you're right. Sorry, I'm not interested in that."

"Oh,..I hope you don't judge me."

"It's not you that I judge. It's the ones that are using you that I think should be judged. That's basically what it comes down to. You are being so used. Do you ever think that you could get back what you had lost?"

"Yes, if I ever had the chance to do it all over again...I'd do things different"

"But that lost sense of innocence..." I trailed off somehow not being able to form the words of what I wanted to say.

We sat in silence as the car whipped through the darkness on the outside. She was very, very tired. Her eyes were closing. I wonder how many nights she had been working without sleep.
"Are you going to be alright? You look exhausted. But you must wake up, for how am I to know the way with you asleep."
"Sorry, I am just so tired."
Her eyes closed again and she dawdling between the realm of wakefulness and her own dreams whatever they may be. I let her rest and continued to drive on the same highway.

When she glanced up she wanted to know our location. And noticing the light we were at, she gasped that she didn't know where we were. The strange idea that I was lost on the highways of Orlando with a tarnished lady of the red lights struck me. But then she said for us to go back the way we came. I thought just to keep her awake by conversation this time. And also I was very, very curious.
"So how did you get into this work?"
"I used to dance. And I would get money thrown at me back in those days. And it was fun and easy to make money. But all this led to other things. Back then, I never would have thought that I'd wind up where I am now."
Apparently, she had been married and was still technically. Only separated.
Our exit wasn't too far. And she started warning me about this side of town. It became obvious to me that I was not taking her home but dropping her off at another good location for her business.
"I've been working. Doing what I can to pay my rent. I owe $50-$60 for rent and I have nothing."
When she said this, I almost believe that it was a sales pitch to try me one last time to see if I'd be all at disposed to helping her for a little favor in return. But I dodged the proposition.
I knew that her life was pure misery. So what else could I say? I told her that I was not judging her and I'm trying to evangelize her, but I asked her if she ever tried prayer.
She said that she did sometimes, but she never really knew what to say.
I told her that what you say is not really that important. Prayer has to be often.
And then without, me prodding her, she blurts out, excitedly, that she wants to pray with me. So I say sure.
And I really can't recall my prayer. But it dealt with calling upon the light of the Spirit to be known right now in this moment to her. For His light to cast itself into all darkness and despair. To take Michelle, give her value, erase shame, allow the spirit of prayer to so lead her. To let her know that she is deeply valued by Him, and the Light to so immerse her life, that she is aware of this great Presence.
By Christ's name, Amen.
The prayer itself had moved me so I reached for my wallet and (this sounds better than it really is) I gave her all the money in it. Which was only $2.
She was no longer tired. Her eyes were wide open. There was this ecstatic joy found in her movements and expressions. As she got out of the car she kept thanking me and telling me to be careful.

As I left, I seriously wondered how much an effect one prayer can have. I was going to return to my churchy bubble, underneath it all, trying to keep from patting myself on my back due to my interaction, while meanwhile this lady struts her streets locked in a miserable life faced with all types of demons and oppressions. So if you are reading this and you feel at all convicted please shoot off a quick prayer on behalf of Michelle. If you don't believe in prayer, maybe just send a hopeful wish and that will suffice.

Oftentimes, while we plan and build the Kingdom of God, it moves and falls in the most unlikely places. Among the most unlikely people. And we can only be responsive to it when it comes. All further inquiries of what happened, of measuring the results are impossible. Someone once said that it is very much like the wind. And I believe that.


Blogger rachelhendrix.com said...

It's scary, for sure, not to know the intentions of another human being, and equally so not to know what the Spirit is going to do with you in situations such as these. That is why prayer and trust in the words have power as a true expression of faith- I understand your funk prior to this "pickup", as I often feel overwhelmed and seperate from God in these giant mega-gatherings, but He is faithful to reveal himself in the real-life, in the day-to-day, where His spirit is most needed. Acting with his spirit alone as our guide is where love leaks out and the name of Jesus is restored. He's with us, in little movements, like the wind... and with it, love becomes the revolution and the change.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Brian Harrison said...

Yes, I definitely agree. Good insight.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Bo and Cindy said...

You may have given her some up close vision into the "other world" than the world that she has chosen for herself. Who knows,one day she may recall the meeting with you and the prayer and actually change her life...or you could have simply aided and abetted in delivering her to the next john or place to obtain her drug of choice...who is to say..no one knows. It would have been much safer and wiser to have this conversation outside of the car. Many, Many things could have gone terribly wrong in this situation.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, you are quite the writer. As far as a book goes, you should take a chance, never give up, and belive in yourself for you already believe in God.


1:12 AM  

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