Virginia Is Mad At Me

You may remember meeting Virginia in a recent blog post: “I Just Showed Up.” Virginia is a homeless woman, who wanders the streets near our home. I usually see her while at the soccer fields during the fall and spring.

Today I was driving home from my friend’s house and I saw Virginia walking along the sidewalk. I rolled down my window to say hello as I slowly drove by.

“Heeeey,” she shouted. “Stop. Stop. I need to talk to you.”

I knew a talk with Virginia meant one thing: money. She would need money for her baby’s formula or food or maybe bus fare. At least these are the reasons she has given me in the past. Today it was her medicine.

I pulled over in a nearby alley and got out of my car. Virginia approached me with her forlorn look. She speaks with a whiny, sing-songy sort of tone. Her front teeth are missing, and the others look as if they’re not far from falling out. Our conversation went something like this:

“Hi Virginia. I have doughnuts in my car again,” I tell her. She doesn’t seem interested in them at all.

“I need ten dollars for my medicine,” she says. “Give me ten dollars.”

“I don’t hand out money, Virginia.”

“But I have to get my medicine and it’s eight dollars and 43 cents,” she says, as if she may burst into tears at any moment.

“Where are you sleeping?” I ask her.

“Outside.”

“Do you need a blanket?”

“I need ten dollars,” she persists.

I reach in my pocket and tell her I’ll give her a dollar today. I put it in her hand where I see she has collected another dollar from someone else.

She asks for more. I tell her no, but I wrap up the last two doughnuts I have in the car and hand them to her. I see she is no longer wearing her signature trench coat. She now dons a heavy blue and white fleece with a deer design all around it. Other than that, everything about her is the same.

She turns to walk away. No laughing at my freckles or “I love yous” and although I don’t pray aloud for her, I am praying for her in my mind. As I walk around my car to get inside, I turn to watch her walking down the sidewalk.

As I say goodbye, she throws the doughnuts into the street, like a todder knocking her sippy cup to the floor to show her anger. I’m a little shocked, but can’t say that I’m offended. After all, I didn’t fill her need.

And I never will. As I drive away, my heart feels heavy for Virginia. I wonder why I was so happy to see her again. Was it to play the hero? No, because as much as I love giving to her, I will never be able to provide what she really needs. Only God can do that for this destitute woman. Was it that I was grateful to see she was still alive? Maybe there was some satisfaction knowing she was still making it on the streets. Surviving the storms. Or was it because when I see Virginia, I am really seeing myself?

Bingo. Virginia is not much different than I am. Like the book titled, “Same Kind of Different as Me.” She is demanding. She is needy. She is lost. Just like me.

This is why I love living in the city… not to be a do-gooder. Nor is it to feel higher in social and economic status. It is because in the faces of people like Virginia, I am far more apt to see myself than I am on the streets of our old suburban neighborhood. I see myself at risk, vulnerable, and desperately in need of a God who will love me and save me no matter how ugly my life may get. So tonight, I am thankful for the glimpses of myself that Virginia provides and I pray that wherever she is tonight, she is warm and safe and that somehow, in some way, she will know that her God loves her – no matter what.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Virginia Is Mad At Me

  1. I used to love living in the city. Now I’m starting to think that it’s just making me jaded, suspicious, (more) cynical, hard… all of the things I don’t like.

    If only I were a bird, so I could take my girls and fly far… far far away. 😉 Trouble is, I’d just pick another city because, for as much as the city hardens me, I still consider myself a survivor of Suburbia.

    • lynnhouse

      Murph, you ARE a survivor, and yes, the city can harden you. I suppose that is why I have to remember Christ in each of the people – even the ones who throw my precious doughnuts in the street. But I know that your heart is so good and you love well. Thanks for being so honest.

  2. Lynn, you should be working on a book.

  3. it’s early and i haven’t finished my first cup of coffee….i can’t think of anything cohesive to say. i really love reading your blog. it gives me hope. this post in particular helped me remember that someone ALWAYS has it worse than poor me.

    my first thought was to thank god that i have my basic needs met. but, then immediately i thought…why would god do that for me and not virginia? and that thought led to a string of thoughts that made me say…”you know you should not be thinking this early”….so i stopped.

    just wanted to say that your writing is always encouraging, real, honest, funny, raw & provocative. it’s like looking in the mirror for me.

    • lynnhouse

      Thank you, Brandy. Love you and praying for you. Oh, and you and I should make sure we are careful when we stay in our heads too long, right? 🙂

  4. Love this one Lynn!
    Julie

    • lynnhouse

      Thanks, Julie! I’m not sure when I’ll see Virginia again, but I am eager to see how she reacts to me b/c it’s never the same.

  5. Jon

    Love Virginia is Mad at Me. I think this really shows the depth of your skills. It’s a story in and of itself and would waken the world who reads it to the realities of homelessness and how few people line up to help them.

    • Thanks, Jon. I am honored that you think this shows “skill.” 🙂

      I feel really helpless in reaching out to the homeless but I am learning to love in my own limited way. Sometimes it is very inconvenient, but I cannot look away any longer.

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