What You Can Learn In An Hour

August 25, 2021

I wanted to reach her.  I wanted her to know that I was for her and that she was loved.  Months and years had gone by and all my attempts had failed.  We would often bump heads.  I wanted her to conform so that I could help her.  She wanted to be heard so that she could trust me.

Our relationship had improved.  Overall we were doing better, but I wanted to understand.  I learned that I was in too much of a hurry.  My heart was to help, but I wanted to quickly help because she he been neglected by society for so long.  “Lord, how can I reach her?  I can’t even understand what she is talking about.”

I heard a pastor say “Love is incompatible with hurry.”  It’s a revision of 1 Corinthians 13:4, which says, “Love is patient.”  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  “I need to slow down.”  I thought I had, but I needed to slow down even more; especially in the case of this precious woman.

I had helped her in the morning before we opened.  I had helped her with “things” that she requested.  I had sat with her in the dining room, trying to have conversation with her. I had even tried anticipate what she might need or like. I even found her an alternative bathroom to give her the time she required to change clothes. I was headed in the right direction, but had a ways to go.

Then I received a text from a coworker on her way home. “Your friend” is laying on the sidewalk across the street.  I knew who they were referring to.  I was on my way home, but I was concerned about her sleeping on the sidewalk.  So, I decided to cross the street and sit next to her on the sidewalk.

This is what I learned in the next hour as I sat beside her.

  • After 20 minutes of disconnected thoughts, she began to make more sense and real conversation was starting to take place. (I had to wait long enough to hear rational conversation to immerge.)
  • Her hip was injured and that is why she couldn’t get up yet.  She needed to rest.
  • I searched for any place open where she could get food after 5pm on a Tuesday.  I could not find any place.
  • I went back to TFH and gathered 2 sack lunches, two bottles of water and some yogurt.  She offered to share her cookies with me.
  • She had two children “in heaven.”  One child had taken their life in a horrific way as a young adult, father and husband.
  • Her feet were in bad shape.  Her ankles were so swollen.
  • She could navigate using the bus, getting a food card, but didn’t know how to reach family members.

My biggest take away was an hour had gone by and she was getting on a bus to just get off her feet. She would look for a place where she could sleep on the ground, because there are no shelters in Clackamas County for her to rest. And I was going home to a loving husband, a meal of my choice, a home, and a comfortable bed where I didn’t have to sleep with one eye open…in fear of who might come by to harm me.