I was a 26 year old intern at a Christian counseling agency, nervously awaiting the arrival of my first client. My head was swarming with questions. Was I ready? Would I know what to say? Would he like me? And most importantly, would I throw up? (I was newly pregnant)
My mom once said people could tell me anything and I could just sit calmly, nodding my head, and say “Uh, huh. Tell me more…”. This ability was about to be put to the test.
Never, in a million years though, was I prepared for the person who walked through my door. But then again, sometimes things in life seem totally random… until they’re not.
During my undergraduate years at a small, conservative Christian college, my professor brought in two guest speakers for our abnormal psychology class (don’t be offended by the “abnormal” part… it encompassed all things not mainstream in the 1990’s). As a bit of a boundary pusher, he decided to ask “forgiveness” rather than “permission” if his guests were questioned by the administration.
They were male crossdressers. Not the typical kind of guys you’d see on campus.
They shared their stories during class and a few of us spent bonus time with them in the cafeteria afterwards, turning more than a few heads! It was a memorable experience, but one I never expected to have any relevance to my life after that day.
When my first client sat down on my office couch five years later, however, the past met the present. This petite, 60ish year old man shared that he was married with grown sons… and was a crossdresser.
This 20 something, soon-to-be-new-mom, took a deep breath (discreetly, while dying inside) and began the conversation. I tried to recall all I’d learned about the underlying issues that led to this lifestyle choice. I asked questions and he seemed relatively comfortable with me.
Four sessions later, he walked though my door dressed in full female attire, wig, heels, and all. Let’s just say no one on the street would have been fooled by his gender with his wardrobe and makeup choices.
I believe it was a test, but one I’ll never know if I failed or passed. He didn’t come back.
This encounter made me realize 5 things about all of us:
- We want to be understood.
- We want someone to listen to and hear us.
- We want to feel normal, even if we’re labeled “abnormal.”
- We want to feel safe.
- We want to be accepted, no matter who we are or what we look like.
I thought I had chosen a “safe” place to do my internship. A place where I’d encounter people more like me and could simply fulfill my graduation requirements for my master’s degree.
But God had other plans and lessons to teach me. I’m grateful for the “random” chance I had to know these guys and understand all of us just a little bit better.
My advice to you? Be ready. You never know how the past will connect to the future.
Or who will come walking through your door.
Question: What’s the most “random” experience you’ve ever had that led to the unexpected later on?