She stood there, a bit wobbly, in a dark hallway at the Westerner. Curious about us and looking for food.I took my first practical step to loving this new neighbor; I stretched out my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Shawn.”She stepped into the light where I could see her better; dark-skinned, pockmarked face, missing teeth, struggling to stay upright, clearly on something potent.  The conversation was foggy because of the drugs, but it didn’t take long to figure out that she turned tricks, likely to pay the bills and support her habit. I have been quick to use the word prostitute to describe someone like her, but I am discovering that they don’t use the word to describe themselves. They talk about the act–turning tricks–not the identity of being a prostitute.I asked her name; she said “Chosen”. Chosen?  

If ever I saw a person who didn’t fit their name, she was it. She looked battered, passed by, desperate, ignored, overlooked, hopeless–but certainly not chosen.  Few would choose her for anything.I expect she picked the name Chosen for herself.  Most of the young women in the sex trade have a street name, something distinctive and beautiful to add to desirability and income.I asked, “Did your mom give you that name or did you pick it?” She muttered some incoherent words about it being a long story.Here’s an educated guess: She picked the name Chosen because she wants to be chosen.Call it an aspirational name; it reveals what she aspires to, not who she is. Everything in her life screams that she is not and will never be chosen in any meaningful way.  Who would want her?

Well, turns out some men do.  A customer shows up and says, “Chosen, I choose you!” Even for a bit, maybe in a motel room, a car, or a dark alley, it is attention, a time for her to be the object of someone’s desire, a time to be special.  Mostly passed by, here she’s chosen.Diane and I are gaining wisdom about those who sell their bodies, including the “why” behind it.  One surprise: Some prostitution happens because it is a way for the girls to get attention. I don’t mean that in a cheap and shallow way.  What I mean is that the hunger they have to be loved and chosen is so deep that they would willingly take on a life that is degrading and dangerous, just to feel loved and valuable.  No matter that it is fleeting and from a dude who’s interest is only brief and merely sexual.

For them, any kind of love is better than no love at all.We are all created hungry for love, first from God and then from people.  When we know God’s love and the love of others, when we are reasonably healthy, we find joy and freedom to love others.  Absent that, our search for love leads us to desperate behavior, hoping for just a drop of love, a moment of being chosen; hence Chosen’s life. Jesus hung out with sex workers.  I love that! It helps us to do the same.  He stood in front of women like Chosen and loved them.  We also try to.

I close my eyes and imagine Jesus at The Westerner that night, standing just inside the light, seeing Chosen, watching her sway, loving her, deciding what to say.I am sure he would have given her food, listened carefully and displayed love. And, somewhere in the conversation, eyes locked on hers, these gentle yet firm words: “Chosen, I choose you.” Here, no sex-starved guy with cash in hand, but the Creator of the world with deep love given freely.  Here, no brief fling of false love, but the promise of a lifetime of love, stretching into eternity.I am no Jesus.  But I try to imitate as best I can.  So I prayed a prayer in Jesus’ name, proclaiming her to be chosen by the Father.  As best I could, I prayed truth; then, tried to show her the love that demonstrated that she had chosen a good name.

Pray for…Chosen and others with heart-achingly similar names that their hunger for love could be filled as God intended.Some details have be changed to protect identity. Help Us: As many of you know, we supply clothing and food to one of the motel managers who distributes them to these girls and other homeless people around her motel.  We especially need food right now–easy open canned soups and chili’s with solid amounts of protein; also, packets of nuts and protein/granola bars.