Monday, December 23, 2013

An Eye-Opening Job Experience

Gems of Reflection - #50
I have been fortunate in the fact that I have been able to be a stay-at-home mom for the last few years, so I haven't worked since before I got pregnant with my 3-year-old son, L. It has been such a rewarding experience to be able to stay home with my babies, to watch them grow, to be a part of every milestone in their lives, and to have an active role in raising them. My last few jobs before I started to stay home, however, were all in the legal field. I worked as a legal assistant for a few different law offices here in town, but my favorite jobs were the two jobs where I worked for a criminal defense attorney.

The most recent of those two attorneys had a large client base of women who had charges of prostitution and trespassing. The caseload was so large, in fact, that he employed one person specifically to handle only those types of cases - me. 

I handled everything where these girls were concerned from collecting attorney's fees to scheduling court dates. I managed every aspect of their case(s) (yes, most of them had several recurring charges) short of appearing in court for/with them, and I basically was responsible for dealing with client relations, and thereby was required to familiarize myself with the details of every case. At any given time, there were upwards of 200 clients under my stewardship, and it was definitely an eye-opening experience to work so closely with these women whose sole source of income was from such a questionable nature. 

Many of these women were married with children - some had husbands who were completely oblivious to what kind of lifestyle their wife was living. Some women would walk into our office first thing in the morning as they were just getting off work - to pay a bill or inquire about their case - all decked out in their mini skirts and "hooker heels" (as my oh-so-gracious husband likes to call them) with their kids in tow, and I sometimes felt myself feeling sorrow for the the "sad" life that these women led, as well as what their children were being exposed to. 

Before having worked that job, I might have been dismissive of these types of women - judgmental even - but as I continued to do my job and got to know them each on a personal level, I came to realize that they too are children of our Heavenly Father, and it was not my place to judge them. Though I didn't agree with their life choices, I was in no position to think less of them. I don't know, maybe it's naive to think that that particular situation could have changed my thinking, but I really came to see these women as normal human beings - like there was nothing setting them apart from myself, and I came to understand what it means to "love the sinner, hate the sin." Maybe this is what it means to have Christ-like love and acceptance for others and to see them as He sees them.  

Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." I am not condoning the actions of these women, nor am I saying that I disagree with their method of earning income any less. All I am saying is that my perspective has changed a little in the sense that I have learned to look at those who would be deemed as "sinners" as nothing other than children of our Heavenly Father - who need our love and acceptance as much as we need these same things from others. And if I ever find myself sitting on a throne of judgmental condescension toward others, I try to remember this important lesson and reflect back on the wisdom that was gained in the process.

I don't know, working with these women was not the most glamorous job in the world, and I definitely got teased a time or two by my co-workers about being "the Mormon girl who worked with prostitutes," but I am thankful for the valuable life-lesson that I learned from the experience. It's one I definitely never expected to learn from such an environment.  

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