I’ll never forget I was at my sonography internship at a large hospital in 2008. Because it was a trauma hospital, I was accustomed to seeing all kinds of patients, sicknesses, diseases, people…you name it, and we saw a lot of it. It was early one morning, very early. We got a call from the Emergency Room for a pelvic ultrasound. This is a common study, and not always an emergent one, as you aren’t dealing with a pregnancy. A woman, probably no older than 30 was wheeled in by an Emergency Room attendant and put in the exam room. She looked exhausted, her eyes and face were swollen with fatigue, pain, and tears. The attendant came out and closed the door behind him. I was going to enter the room to start the exam when the attendant stopped me. With a near smile on his face, almost as if he was going to tell me some kind of humorous secret, he said “. She is from the wrong side of the tracks. She got picked up for streetwalking….she’s really not the kind of girl you want to take home to mom.” He went on to tell me that she had already been diagnosed with a cervical abscess, as a side effect of an untreated STD. Without going into gory detail, all I will need to say is that a cervical abscess is an infection in a very sensitive and tender place. Needless to say, this poor woman was in a lot of pain. At first I listened attentively, thinking he was about to give me some kind of actual crucial information for my exam, but then realized…he was only interested in gossiping about her.
He continued to stress to me, literally almost elbowing me with humor, how dirty and unclean (metaphorically speaking) this girl was. Was there a joke I was missing? Did he think I would smile and chime in with a derogatory comment about her? It’s important in the health field to have an accurate history of the patient’s lifestyle…but I kept thinking there was some affirmation of his judgment he was waiting for me to give, some agreement I would show that this woman deserved pain and sickness and filth for her transgressions. It really did catch me off guard; I played dumb to his ridiculous attempt at hospital humor, said ok, and went in to start my exam. I couldn’t get his words out of my head. Why did he want me to know how dirty she was? It was more than just a transmission of words so that I would understand how to treat the patient….it was a judgment. We are absolutely all guilty of making judgments, but in most cases I think we make ourselves feel better by trying to convince our self that our judgments are harmless, or informative for safety reasons, or at the very least PRIVATE. That was not the case with this man. It was like he couldn’t stop himself from trying hard to convince me, and those around me that this girl was not qualified to deserve respect or help. Why did he want me to understand that she was so dirty and unclean? I went in and performed my exam. Of course, the poor girl was literally writhing in pain. Her tears were flowing freely though she never sobbed. She spent most of her concentration throughout my exam trying not to pass out.
I had to go over her pregnancy history, as it is pertinent to our exam.6 pregnancies. No children. 5 abortions, 1 miscarriage due to drug overdose. The man’s words echoed in my head again. “She’s dirty. She’s not the kind of girl you bring home to mom.” I began to see where he may have picked up those thoughts, yet, I noticed clearly that I did not feel the intolerance, the judgment, the hatred towards her that I’m sure the man felt inside of himself. It caught me off guard. Here I was looking in the eyes a woman who had essentially killed six of her own children, who sold her body to anyone who wanted it, who engaged in illegal and harmful activities with illicit people. This kind of person on paper disgusted me, yet as I looked at her, I felt protective of her. I felt sympathy for her. She was in pain, but I think the physical pain she was in was only a glimpse of the inside pain she had been feeling for most of her life. The attendant had tried so hard to DISgrace her….and it only made me want to EMBRACE her.
I can’t justify her actions or her wrongdoings. But that’s okay; Christ won’t justify any of my wrongdoings either. He will however, forgive me of them. To pursue being like him, would I not do the same towards her? We as Christians live with so much grace and mercy that I think we often forget that it is surrounding us in spades. Kind of like, you don’t see the forest for the trees. We can’t expect people without the grace and mercy of God to value life or have the strength to live in dire circumstances. We expect others to have the same standard of living, strength for living, and outlook on living. They do not. Humanity, on its own, is wicked. That’s not to say this woman is wicked. Nor that she is innocent. She is responsible for her actions and choices. She will have to face God and have a “heart to heart” with him, the only one who truly knows and understands her, when the time comes. But while Christians have been living under the umbrella of God’s grace and hope and love (don’t argue, you have, regardless of your circumstances), we have openly pointed a finger of judgment at those who are running around in circles out in the rain.
I can’t force her to come out of the rain. It has to be her decision. And she has to want to do it, because sadly there is a lot of pushing and shoving under here, and if you’re here for the wrong reasons, standing in the rain doesn’t seem like such a bad option. Standing on a box and yelling about how it’s better to be dry won’t do much good either. I think that the majority of people who reject God do it because they don’t understand what it is that he actually offers. So there they are, running in the rain, unhappy and wet and cold, surrounded by people who are cranky and wet and cold, and probably all the time thinking that they are “too dirty” to come under the umbrella, or they won’t be accepted under the umbrella, or that God will require more than they can give under the umbrella. They don’t realize that it’s FREE to come under here, and anybody can come. And that being under the umbrella doesn’t mean you aren’t surrounded by storms, or that your feet may not occasionally get wet. It means that someone (God), has placed himself between you and the rain, and has his arms “umbrellaed” around you. That woman had done many things to hurt herself, probably to hurt others. But instead of being angry at her for being wet, I decided to see her as just a little girl lost in the rain. And that, my friends, is where Jesus came in. And he is willing to go out into the rain for each and every one of us, tuck us safely under his arm, and bring us under the umbrella. All those of already under here have to do is welcome our long lost wet brothers and sisters, by scooting over and making room for them.
Nobody deserves to be out in the rain.