I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness. … Isaiah 61:10
True story. It happened to a close friend here in my hometown. As the Scripture says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear …" (Matthew 13:9).
It was about three years ago, Christy recalled, just before the birth of her youngest daughter. She was shopping in one of the big hub department stores in our local mall. She can’t remember why she had gone to the mall or what she was shopping for.
As she finished her shopping, she headed toward an exit door near the store’s public bathroom. Approaching the glass doors that lead to the parking lot, she became aware of other shoppers murmuring in disgust at what appeared to be drops of feces on the floor. Perhaps a baby’s diaper had leaked, Christy thought.
Some of the customers stood at a nearby cash register complaining to the store staff. The odor was strong.
In the midst of that peculiar scene, Christy sensed that God’s Holy Spirit was prompting her to follow the trail of drops and find out what had happened. In the back of her mind, she remembered reading in a book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that sometimes God calls us to assert ourselves beyond our comfort zone and step into a situation that we would otherwise avoid.
The trail led to a small sitting area. On the wall a sign pointed to the door of the lady’s restroom. Two women stood nearby complaining about the foul odor and the droppings on the floor. Another exited the restroom in obvious disgust.
Christy walked toward the restroom door, pushed it open, and stepped inside. Her eyes fell upon a black lady in her mid-60s wearing only her bra. She was leaning over a lavatory desperately trying to wash her fouled clothes.
“Please, don’t leave me,” were the first words from the lady’s mouth.
“I’m not going to leave you,” Christy responded. “What happened?”
Through tears and overwhelming embarrassment, the woman explained that she was a diabetic, and that her medication sometimes caused severe stomach problems that she was unable to control.
Now, she stood helpless, nearly naked, and utterly unable to help herself. Others had already refused to hear her plea. She begged again, “Please, don’t leave me.”
Christy moved closer, instructing the lady to throw her ruined clothes in the garbage. She told the lady to wait in a toilet stall.
“Tell me your sizes,” Christy said. “I’m going back into the store to buy you some new clothes. It may take a few minutes, but I will be back.”
“I can’t ask you to do that,” the lady protested.
“My name is Christy, and I’ll be back,” my friend responded several times.
About 15 minutes later, Christy returned to the restroom carrying two shirts, two pairs of pants, undergarments, and socks – everything except shoes and a bra.
Still mortified, the lady apologized again and again.
“This is over,” Christy said. “I’ll stand outside the door. You let me know if the clothes fit, then I’ll leave.”
As she dressed herself in her new clothes, the lady insisted on repaying Christy. Christy refused, of course, fully aware that any payment would rewrite the living parable in which she was privileged to play a role.
The clothes fit. The lady’s desperation began to subside. When Christy was assured that the lady was calm enough to find her car and drive home, she turned and walked away.
“What is your name,” the lady called out.
“I told you. My name is Christy.”
“No, your last name?” the lady implored.
“It doesn’t matter,” Christy said, as the door shut.