I do French interpretation for a language company. I get sent to all kinds of places. Sometimes I even have to do intepreration in an operating room for people under partial anesthesia.
Recently I was sent to a clinic where there are many patients from the LGBTQ community who come for sexual related treatment. I have seen much in my life but this is not the type of place I am accustomed to. I had to keep my professionalism as an interpreter while translating very intimate, embarrassing, and even strange back and forth conversation between patient and doctor.
As I arrived, I felt my client was a little uncomfortable. I made small talk as I would with anyone else. I used the formal way of talking in French which showed respect. Little by little, my client relaxed and realised that I was not there to judge, but just a translator as I would for anyone else. We talked about each other’s lives and family. As I talked, I saw in my client a little melancholy when faced with someone who had what could be called a normal life with a family and children. Then it was time to see the doctor.
The doctor asked many intimate questions. I could see my client, who didn’t seem to be the prudish type, feel a little embarrassed in front me. It was almost liked he/she had tried to make a good impression for me and now was being exposed. Then something happened. As he/she lifted his/her sleeve for a blood draw, I saw a tattoo on his/her arm. The tattoo said, “Only God can judge me!” It is then that my heart broke for that person. Here I had in front of me someone in an alternative lifestyle judged by many. It felt like he/she was so confused that he/she didn’t know anymore his/her true identity.
I have met many lost people in my life and whenever I do, I always wonder how they got there. What brings people to where they are? What pain, what trouble, what disturbance brings us to our present state? I don’t know.
I always remember what Jeremiah the prophet said about Israel in sin, “They did not know how to blush.” (Jer 6:13-15), and I was touched by the embarrassment of my client. There is a certain acknowledgement of wrongdoing in shameful blush, or even just feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable.
When I saw that tattoo, I felt that somehow that person still staked a claim with God as his/her ultimate Judge, which is more than many mainstream people would do. He/she had faith that there is One that he/she can come to, a Judge of all humanity who will not by the seeing of the eyes or by the hearing of the ears, but judges righteous judgments. (isaiah 11:1-4)
Call me naive always trying to find the good in people, but when I come before the Maker who has ultimate compassion on my poor wretched self, I would rather be accused of that than of uncompassionate judgment.
I sometimes enroll the help of beta readers for these articles, (you know, those who can read ‘betta’ than me!) One of them commented, “It is difficult to judge someone separately from his lifestyle. I then responded with the remark of another one of my beta reader, “You do it by looking at the heart of the person, without the distraction of the outward appearances!”
Patrick G. Lumbroso
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"