Angie closed the door behind herself and slowly began walking down the hallway. She knew it so well. She always used the same room. Directly across the hall hung a dingy sign that read, "Quiet after 10 pm, Guests sleeping." She always chuckled within herself each time she read it. She couldn't remember the last time she was sleep at 10 pm. She worked. Her job was just beginning and it didn't end until the early morning hours; usually about three or four. It no longer felt odd. She had done it since she was a teenager. She had to do it; she had to survive. At 21, she really didn't know much else.
Each step Angie took was slow and deliberate. Everything she did was deliberate. Even though coming and going in the midnight hours had become routine she tried her best never to get used to it. It was what she did, not who she was. She knew that to be for certain.
The hallway always smelled of a hot summer day after rain; thick and humid, even during the winter months. Perhaps it had something to do with the air circulation, but Angie reasoned it probably had more to do with what went on behind all those closed doors lining the hallway.
As Angie neared the elevator she saw the janitor out of the corner of her eye. It was a rendezvous they repeated practically every day. Everyday they crossed paths. Everyday Angie dreaded the overwhelming shame and guilt she endured. She could never bring herself to look the woman in the eye. As the two passed, Angie allowed her eyes to scan the floor beneath her lowered head. She knew what she did and was sure the woman did as well. Angie always breathed a sigh of relief when their encounter ended. Secretly though, she wanted the woman to say something. Say anything. Say you know who I am. Say you know what I do. Say I'm a disgrace, say you understand; you don't understand. Say you feel sorry for me. Just say something. Anything would be better than nothing. Nothing meant Angie wasn't even worth thinking about; and she felt that from all the others every night. She just longed for someone to think about her and what she wanted. Good or bad, she wanted to be acknowledged. She wanted to feel wanted. She wanted people to know she existed. She wanted someone to care.
Angie knew tonight would be no different from all the others. She would be who she needed to be and do what she needed to do. She could usually tell what kind of night she would have by her first encounter. Tonight would definitely be easy. He was quiet and unassuming; almost child-like. "Not another night of teaching", she thought. It was almost better when they were old pros, she certainly was. She walked purposefully to the room. The hallway was eerily silent. She could hear herself breathing. He walked calmly behind. Too calm for Angie. He didn't behave like the others. He didn't seem nervous or anxious. The only way Angie could explain it was peaceful. That kind of attitude was certainly new to her, but she figured the veil would fall off soon enough and his true colors would be revealed.
No matter what, each time she did it, Angie never got used to it. The sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach was always there. The fear for her life was just as strong. She just tried to convince herself she was used to it.
Angie calmly opened the door and went straight inside. He hadn't said much so she wasn't too sure how to react next. The others usually make it painfully clear what they want to do. The only light in the room was what filtered in through the curtains from the outside street lamps. Angie didn't say anything and neither did he. She no longer felt the need to play some weird role. It was what it was. Take it or leave it. She took a deep breath, locked eyes with him and began walking in his direction. That was always the moment when things usually seemed to be a big blur for Angie. It was time to work.
Angie hadn't gotten within a foot of him, when he suddenly turned, walked to the chair against the wall and sat down. Angie knew it. She knew the gentle act would fade. He must have something weird in mind. "What's your name?" he asked. He had a look on his face that Angie couldn't decipher. She hesitated in her mind because she didn't know what to do. Her years of experience had not prepared her for this. So she just stood there. She didn't respond. He repeated himself. She did too. Neither budged. Finally, Angie spoke. She had nothing to lose. "Angie," she said calmly. He immediately responded, "How are you?" At this point, on a normal night, everything would be a blur. She would force herself to become someone she was not. She would force herself to do things she should not. She did not know what to think or what to say now. But for some reason she wasn't fearful. She decided to truly give him what he asked for. He asked her a question and for the first time she was going to be herself and tell the truth. She spoke with her mouth but her heart began to sing.
Maybe you can relate to Angie's story; maybe you can't. Nevertheless, I'm sure you inferred from the context of the short story that Angie was engrossed in a life of prostitution. A life she didn't enjoy, but felt it her only option. In short, she did what she thought she had to do. Her story reminds me of the story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus at the well.
The Samaritan woman lived in disgrace, ridicule and shame. Everyone knew who she was and what she did, but instead of confronting her issue they dismissed her as if she did not exist; accept that is for the men that essentially used her for their own pleasure and then tossed her aside. She was aware of her situation, but she obviously felt paralyzed and bound by her predicament. She lived her life in shame and obscurity. Her days were spent dodging the disdainful glares of her contemporaries. While the other women logically rose early to fill their water pots before the scorching sun peaked, the Samaritan woman understood her only reprieve from their taunting looks would be to brave the trek to the well during the hottest part of the day. No doubt the strain of her task would be increased, but her dignity and integrity would not suffer attack.
Indeed, the Samaritan woman and Angie shared the same lot in life. The Samaritan woman did all she could to steer clear of the people of her day, but in all likelihood I imagine she just wanted someone to really care. I believe she was inwardly and desperately crying out and longing for someone to take her by the hand, confront her issue and lovingly offer a better way. Jesus met this woman right where she was and they had a simple conversation. It was a conversation that forever changed her life as well as so many of the others that she had previously tried to avoid.
I am inclined to believe Angie's story can end in redemption and rejoicing as did the Samaritan woman's story. The missing link in Angie's story is just as simple. Angie can enjoy the same redemption if the likes of you and I decide to follow the example of Jesus Christ and refuse to sit idly by while she and so many like her silently suffer.
We have the answer for Angie. We are now the hands, arms, legs and body for our Savior. He is depending on us to reach all the Angie's of this world and pull them from a life of hiding and obscurity and shame to one of joy, healing and confidence. Remember both lives were forever changed and it all started with a simple conversation.
Take a moment and study St. John 4. I believe that you will see just how simple it is to change someone's life through the love of Jesus Christ.
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The story really drew me in. Thank you for helping me relate to someone living a very different life and bringing the story of the Samaritan woman alive for today's audience.
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