Monday, October 22, 2012

When Helping Seems Impossible

So, here's where I hit the wall. It happens every time and I'm actually surprised that it took 22 days. I feel like I'm up running on the wheel. I'm repeating myself. I might sound like I have answers when really I'm just fumbling around in the dark with a megaphone.

These new parts of my life are equal parts fulfilling and exasperating. All of those things I said are true. They were true today from the hours of 10-1. There's no where I would have rather been, but I left drained of words, emptied out, desperate for solutions that might work.

The person I used to be thought poverty was black and white. Get a job. Work harder. Buck the heck up already. What I thought was a straight line is actually a midnight corn maze with trap doors and really high stakes.

What do you say to the girl with no high school diploma, no driver's license, two felony convictions, four young children, no home, no skills, no tangible support? Do you tell her to go get a job? Do you really say it's that simple?

It's hard sometimes not to secretly give up just a little. I'm tempted to pretend to help, believing all the while that "help" doesn't live here. I'm tempted to set the bar really low. Maybe even kick it down and let it fall to the floor. Maybe then - maybe - we can say we found a shard of success.

But the real truth is, she was made for more than this. I'm not sure how to help her get there, but I can stay close until things start to make sense.

I don't know how to do this. The books help, but at the end of the day, they're not there with us in the van.

This system was set up to fail. It was never meant to fix anything. It doesn't know how to care. You and I? We were created to care. Maybe that's all we need to aim for.

Tonight, I'm full of questions, but I'm all right. This is every thing I am, this is my life. The stuff I've yammered about for 22 days straight never leaves my thoughts. It presses down and pushes me around. But it's not the only thing or even the main thing. There's so much more. My house is a happy mess. There's a painted tea-box-turned-ocean-liner drying on the counter. My eyelids have been seized by overzealous, misguided wrinkle cream. We're flipping between the debate and the Cardinals when what I really want is Mad Men. I'm tired and scattered. I'm thanking the high heavens that the kids went to bed tonight with minimal grievances.

Sammy Kershaw has topped my play list for the past few days and I think he just might hold part of the secret, the way he croons so smooth about the hard parts of life. I'm inspired to do the same, minus all the whiskey and bar-burning.

So, tomorrow they're calling for morning thunderstorms and afternoon sun. What could be better than that? I hope wherever you are, you get a little bit of both, too. Grab your rain boots and your shades. Let's rock this mixed-up world.


  1. "she was made for more than this"... truth.

    your 22 days of posts like this, He is using them to help change me. Thanks for posting!!

  2. I'm not sure how to help her get there, but I can stay close until things start to make sense.......

    Most of the time the journey is a marathon and not a sprint!

  3. So I did this whole hike in the Alps this past summer, and it re-taught me some very important lessons like: Every step forward is a victory. Every breath I take in making the next step is a gift.

    Maybe things are so mixed up and broken that we have to set the var low. Getting over it remains sheer grace.

  4. We had the exact same TV flipping tonight at my house.

    Thanks for posing these questions and forcing me to think harder and deeper about things I would rather not face. Thanks for keeping it real enough to relate to. Thanks for taking us on this journey with you. It matters.

  5. Here is something I've learned living in a less-than-likeable rental house. I'm hoping what I say comes across with the tenderness I feel, and without judgement. By experience of living in a house that the landlord cares little for (we've had toilet issues, septic issues, roof issues, the overgrown yard, etc), I sort of ... in the smallest of ways ... sort of understand why people who live in poverty don't fix up their homes.

    I'm nowhere near poverty so cannot really understand all of the reasons why, but I do know its easy to feel a resigned giving-up about the looks of a house that the owners don't care for. Why would I spend backbreaking hours to fix up a yard with no guarantees that the landlord will even maintain the house well enough for me to continue to live here next month if the septic tank fails. I'm surely not assuming I know exactly how it feels for someone in real poverty because IF our septic tank fails and our landlord doesn't fix it, we can find a new home to rent. I know that some people would really be in a hard place in that circumstance.

    Anyway, your post reminded me of this understanding I've recently reached, an undoing of an old bias I had. I'm thankful that this house has softened my heart in that way.

    I'm really enjoying your 31 Days. I'm also at a standstill tonight. My post won't be as full of meaning as yours. :) I think I'm going to post about jars. :D

  6. 22 days is monumental for a girl. Don't shirk it. Know that I am giddy when I see your updates in my email box. We all are. Because if you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter. I would have given up day six. Forgotten or found some accidental distraction.

    I appreciate the gleaning. It's where I am at right now. Sometimes I give the advice. Sometimes I soak it in and know exactly what God wants of me. Now. Now I am gleaning. A little here. A bit there. Some crying. Some gleaning. More crying. Asking forgiveness. Cry. Ask. Glean. It's becoming a more succinct pattern at least.

    My feelings toward the devil's distractions can best be described in a quote from the made for children classic Land Before Time where I will be playing the role of Cera the triceratops. "I hope he doesn't eeeat any of you!" And. Scene.

  7. first...go giants and they did!!
    rocking this mixed up world with love and grace is the way we must do rock the umbrellas and sunglasses!

  8. hello!! Very interesting discussion glad that I came across such informative post. Keep up the good work friend. Glad to be part of your net community.hgh

  9. Your posts have been touching, sensitive, the truth and hard to swallow. My hat, shirt and shoes go off to you and your family for what you are doing. Hold on to that saying-- what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger -- your getting there.. day by day..

  10. I honestly can't wait calmly for your next're braveness in "Go-ing" is inspirational! I can't drive through our little towns without looking at each person on the street and wondering....could I make a difference to them and where would I start? I can't begin to imagine the round the clock dependence on Him that you must have to have on this road! Keep up the hard, emptying work - He is truly filling you up one day at a time and equipping you with His ever-loving heart!! Somewhere I read that people really just want someone to care, to care enough to come back. Keep going back <3 oh and I'm super excited about your sharing buttons!!! I've been bursting at the seams to easily share you with others :) thanks!!!

  11. Shannan,
    Thank you for continuing to be so transparent and vulnerable. For admitting it's not easy. For if it were easy we would all be doing it. (The following God part...) And, if it is easy for you, perhaps we might think there's something wrong with us. Because Going might be simple - but I'm guessing it's far from easy. There's a chance a lot of tears lay in that distinction.

    ~ Dana

  12. I read your blog, and it puts my emergencies in perspective. I guess we all struggle to know the plans He has for us and our future.
    It may seem bigger or smaller depending on where you are, but it is just as real when you are living in the gaps, begging for the grace to get another seemingly hopeless situation behind you. He is faithful. He is faithful. He will do it.

  13. All of your posts have been incredibly inspiring. Going has taken on a whole new meaning to me. As someone who enjoys staying home, you've made me realize the selfishness in that. Thanks so much!

    1. Girl, I am the homebody Queen Supreme. I get it. :)

  14. it is so easy to see an issue in black and white. easy. but the real issues are never so simple. they require thought and compassion. they require us to go there. they require us to deal in complexity not simplicity. i will tell you, though, the fact that you show up every time is more than any system can do. hands down. and that isn't a complex solution. but it is the truth, ruth.

  15. Learning it too. The grace falling down in me, me being the vessel of grace. Having plenty to go around for others. When I see how broken and messed up I am, it's all grace. Trying to see others through those same lenses. It's worth the effort. It matters.

  16. "It's hard sometimes not to secretly give up just a little." Unfortunately, that bit is me and even worse is that it's not just a little. My brother who is in his 40's was just sentenced to 1 1/2 years in jail. His life has been full of many, many mess up's over and over again that keep on building and I just want to pretend that the issue doesn't even exist. If I don't have to see it and be reminded of it all the time, I can go on and live my life without worrying about him ... and me and how it affects me and my family. I feel like at times I can support others easier than my own family because I know his history too well and feel like he's never going to change and it will continue to bring me and my family down forever. It is so hard. Yet it is so unfair that someone should have to go through it by themselves either. I'm trying to figure out how to help without draining myself emotionally. I know that God is the answer and I haven't been giving him enough time with this. Thank you for giving me new perspectives on this situation and helping me to remember that more than anything I was created to care.

    1. Anonymous, stand strong, Dear, Family does cause more pain than strangers, who we have little connection to, family shares too many memories and dreams and hurts. But we were created to care, especially for our brothers and sisters and your brother needs you and you need to be there for him. For your sake. God bless you and give you strength.

  17. We ARE created to care. In this culture caring is profound. There is a scripture that has kept me in those moments when walking away seemed the only option. "For in hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all.Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:24-25

    I am saved by hope. <3

  18. Your blog is so encouraging! I live in a broken little city in Tennessee, and your writing has been a part of God's work to push me into the middle of its mess. Thank you for being so real.
    Also, for some reason I think you might really enjoy the music of Jenny & Tyler, especially their album Faint Not. Just a random thought :)

  19. This mixed up world? Today I am living smack dab right in the middle! So the rain I can hardly see through will find me in those boots and the faith I am hanging on to for dear life might find me sporting those shades...

  20. Love this. That sweet girl bears the image of Christ. You seeing it in her - looking for it - and being near is a beautiful thing. Not always easy, but beautiful.

  21. yes, let's GO!

    so, my hubby had a hair appointment yesterday and he just KNEW he needed to share Christ with his hairdresser when he was talking to the Lord on the way there.
    turns out she started asking him all sorts of questions and he was able to share the entire Gospel with her right there in the salon.
    isn't that amazing?
    i wish i was as good at trusting the Lords lead and going as he is.
    so if you get a minute, pray for angie!

  22. i have this very clear picture of you in the dark with a megaphone.
    i like your humility. i like that the more you learn, the more you don't know. we could be friends.