Back in April, I decided to build a retaining wall around a tree in our front yard for a new garden. This is our second summer in the house and I wanted to really make the yard look attractive now that I generally knew what to expect in my front gardens.
All of my gardens (by all I mean 5 around 3 sides of my house) were full of hostas. Don’t get me wrong, hostas are nice but they are boring. There is very little colour to them, even the ones that do flower, and they all look the same. I want colour in my garden!
So I ordered some stone and brought them home. (Thank you to my lovely husband who loaded them all for me at work!) Then I proceeded to lift and carry over 120 stones, each weighing about 20 lbs, to build this garden. My husband was at work and this is something I really wanted to do myself.
When I came home with the trailer full of stone, I parked on the street so I would not have to walk very far with each one (along with the fact that I don’t know how to back up with a trailer – they really need to teach that in driver’s ed!)
I painted a bright orange circle around the tree to give myself an idea as to where I would be laying the first layer of stones. I got a few tips from my nephew who is a professional landscaper and I got to work.
I carried each stone, one at a time, from the curb to the tree. As I did this, I noticed something unpleasant. Someone had failed to pick up their dog’s do-do and I stepped in it – multiple times! But isn’t that just like life?
You are working away, things are going well, then something goes wrong. Some crap has gotten in your way, whether it be yours or someone else’s.
If it is yours, you have a choice to make: pick it up and get rid of it or pretend it isn’t there. Sometimes when you try to get rid of it, it doesn’t always go as planned. Often, it ends up being a bigger mess than anticipated.
On the other hand, you could pretend it isn’t there. You can try to work around it but that doesn’t help either. The problem is you either end up slipping in it again or someone else does and it messes up their life along with yours.
As someone who is impacted by someone else’s mess, again, we have have options. We can ignore it and let them clean it up on their own or we can help them as much as we are willing and able and if they want our help.
If someone asks us for help in cleaning up their mess, we can help them or we can turn our backs on them.
Here is a perfect example. Last summer, I was walking Abby through the neighbourhood. Very rarely, up to that point, would she poop while we were out for walks. She liked to poop in her own yard, so I almost never had doggie bags with me. This one day though, she decided she had to poop on our way home. And I didn’t have a bag.
Moments earlier, I had watched the homeowner load her golf clubs in to the back of her car so I knew they were home. Then Abby pooped on their lawn. Now I had a choice. I could pretend it didn’t happen and hope they didn’t notice or I could ask them for a plastice bag.
I did the right thing and went up to their front door, explained what happened and asked for a bag. Abby was happy just to meet new people. Then they had a choice: give me a plastic bag so I could clean up their lawn or yell at me for allowing it to happen and being an irresponsible dog owner then tell me to go away. If they had told me to go away, the mess would have been their problem, unless I went back to clean it up, which may have been unlikely.
They helped me by giving me a plastic bag to clean up after Miss Abby. It was well within their willingness and ability to do so.
When it comes to our own messes, God wants us to ask Him for help all the time, even for the little messes. He will show us how we can clean it up on our own or will bring people into our lives to help us. We just need to ask.
God will direct us to others who need our help. We have to be willing to help them, just as Jesus did, and expect nothing in return. Obviously, we can only help as much as we are able and as much as the other person is willing to accept the help. We also need to maintain healthy boundaries as we do so.
We are put on this earth to love God and to love others. We show this love by helping each other when they need it.
As part of CR, one of the reference verses is Galatians 6:1. As part of our own recovery, once we reach a certain point, we need to help others reach their recovery as well, to walk along side of them. But take a look at the rest of the verses in that section.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Galatians 6:1-5
This is about helping to carry other’s burden’s meanwhile, knowing we will be tested and judged for our own actions.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the messes in my life. I learn so much from them. But I also know I need to reach out for help and not always try to do it on my own. Thank you for the people you bring into my life when I need them the most. For their random prayers and thoughts about me. You are calling to them, telling them I need help. Thank you for the opportunity to help others around me. You are an all-knowing God who calls me into the lives of those who need my help. Amen.
What messes and crap have you got going on in your life these days? Are you asking for help? How often do you find yourself cleaning up after someone else? Please share your stories with me.