By Jen Havard
“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:30-31)
I work as a counselor and the clients that I serve often have very chaotic, challenging lives. In love, we do the best we can to meet their many needs, but we are not a specifically or outwardly Christian organization. I will often begin a conversation with a client by saying a quick prayer under my breath as I walk into a counseling room. I pray that the Lord, who knows each person I serve so intimately, leads me.
About a month ago, I had a client come in who had some serious physical and mental challenges. I ended up spending a good bit of time with her. Her story was hard, though not uncommon, and there was a limited amount of good I could do for her on that day beyond listening with love, and offering her our immediate services. I prayed often for her that afternoon.
Towards the end of the next day, I was the only counselor in the building. It was cold and windy and I was eager to get home. Suddenly the client I had seen the day before burst in the front door in hysterics. She was crying, clearly distraught and upset. I couldn’t make sense of her story.
I got her a cup of water and a granola bar. I suggested she sit down and collect herself so that we could talk. It took quite awhile and I sat nearby praying under my breath. I noticed that she didn’t have a coat and was thinly dressed. She must have been cold. She also didn’t have any socks or shoes on her feet, and they were really dirty. I thought about how cold her feet must be without shoes.
As the woman calmed herself, she began to share that the situation in her home had turned violent. She had found herself needing to grab her keys and run out the door. She drove to the office knowing that it was a safe place. As she poured out her heart to me, I realized that there was really very little I could do professionally to change her situation. I was struggling to hold myself together in light of her chaotic tragedy.
As we came to the end of our conversation, I was still fixated on her feet and as I said another little prayer for her, the Lord told me clearly, “Give her your shoes.” That was not what I expected to hear and I paused. I didn’t want to insult her or make her uncomfortable.
Finally, I said, “Your feet must be very cold, would you let me give my shoes?”
She was shocked. She didn’t know what to say. She got really quiet, but eventually she nodded up and down, “yes.” She mentioned that they looked like good shoes, which ironically they were not compared to others in my closet. But they were clean as I had washed them the night before. She said over and over, “I can’t believe you would just take your shoes off your feet and give them to me. No one has ever done anything like that for me.” I took off the shoes, knelt down and tied them onto her dirty feet.
She left that day without everything fixed, without the chaotic challenges of her life all righted, but with my shoes. It made a huge impact on me! My heart was pierced with the Lord’s love for her. I was humbled to be his hands reaching out to serve her.