When Helping is Messy

I’ve been praying about an email I received early this week. The digital missive was a cry for help. Behind the simple question the writer asked were a series of complex issues, like layers on an onion.

It sat in my inbox unanswered for a few days.

“I’m busy,” I thought. “I’ll reply later…”

Two days passed, then three. My perpetual goal of reaching “inbox zero” (never realistic, but always a desire) was being blocked by this note which refused to be filed away or deleted. I prayed, started and tossed three responses, and then pulled out the big guns.

I called my Mom.

The smartest woman I know is well acquainted with the email sender and the complicated life circumstances that exist. She listened to me explain my quandary, heard all of my excuses, and wisely offered a few options. In the end, I chose one Mom’s suggestions and was able to compose a reply to the email. As I filed it in my digital records (not the trash), I prayed for God to take this situation from me.

The lingering malaise in my heart over my lack of “action” indicates to me that the situation is not over. Despite my (albeit reasonable) excuses for not getting more directly involved, this is not a problem that will be resolved with a digital checklist of resources. I know that.

But… (insert numerous reasons I can’t and shouldn’t be more hands on here)

Helping — really helping — is often not tidy. It’s also frequently not something that you can put on a checklist and “complete”. With some people, the more you help, the more you’ll be drawn into the sickness, the evil, and the root core of their problems: the sin.

Jesus knew this. How often in the Gospels do we see him ministering to the broken? He never took the easy route and also held his disciples to a higher standard. He set a high benchmark for being a true follower.

But… (reiterate logical reasons for not getting involved here)

Sometimes, helping is messy. And guess what — often faith is too. That’s just the way it is.

In the end, will I be judged by my intentions, or by my actions? Therein lies the answer.

A question for you: Do you hesitate to help friends and family when you know you’ll be taken out of your comfort zone?

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About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at LisaHendey.com and connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.