Decorum is Overrated


When I do outreach on the streets, it’s very common to hear people yelling down the street about everything from ex-boyfriends to the latest hit pop song. I am usually the one casually leaning against a guard rail in the 7-Eleven parking lot, chuckling with my partner about their comical declarations.

One night on outreach a few weeks ago, we were spending some time with Sylvester just before we were about to head in for the night. He tends to slip in and out of reality, so I usually talk whatever he says with a grain of salt. That night, his conversation had been especially hard to follow, but suddenly he became lucid and said to me, “You should be like my brother. Like a family. I LOVE YOU! I … LOVE … YOU!!!”

I have to admit, I was a little bit embarrassed by this sudden outburst. He then proceeded to try to convince me to yell the same thing! Being a normally quiet observer, I was naturally reluctant, but I realized that I was not trying to impress anyone on that street at 2:30 a.m.

“I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!” we yelled together. It was oddly freeing to yell that across the nearly empty streets. He smiled and looked straight into my eyes. “And that needs to include you, too,” he whispered.

That hit me right in the core. How could this man who had recently told me a ludicrous story about a seahorse and a princess see right to the core of my biggest insecurity? I love how God uses the absurd and ridiculous to get through to us. That night on the streets, I received a very valuable reminder about three things: 1) Letting go of the need to appear “together” is extremely freeing. 2) It’s important to say “I love you” to those that you love (even if it’s very loudly!). 3) God often reaches us through the avenues that we expect the least.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to hang out with men who society rejects. They have a lot to offer if we are open to receiving it. Truly reaching out means joining our men right where they are and caring more about loving them well than about keeping up appearances. When we do that, truly beautiful things happen.

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