Run to the mess.
What images does that bring up for you? What emotions does it evoke?
Run to the mess. I heard that said in a leadership meeting tonight at my church, in reference to how we want to be present for people. All people.
When I first heard it, I thought of my work as a therapist, and how I deal with mess throughout my day. I thought of some of my clients and how incredibly messy their relationships and their lives have become.
And then the images from the bombing in Boston flashed through my mind. Run to the mess.
I envisioned first responders, medical personnel, trainers, runners, sisters, fathers, children, running into the mess. They ran into the mess to help the wounded, the maimed, the bleeding, the crying, the frightened. They tied tourniquets, sometimes ripping off their own clothes to make them. They carried strangers, placing them in wheelchairs and running toward ambulances. They chose to run to the mess, to face their horror straight on.
I remember a married couple sitting in my office, facing the mess of alcoholism and infidelity. We waded in the mess for a time, attempted to deal with the pain and wreckage of their lives, but they could not stay there. The pain was horrific. The mess was too much. They chose to walk away, from therapy and from the marriage.
When we run to the mess, the expectation and the hope is that we'll be able to fix it. To clean it up. To make it better. Sometimes we're able to do that, and sometimes it's just too much. And we lack the power to change the situation. Tourniquets are applied; the victim still loses the leg. The child is quickly rushed to the hospital, but the damage is too severe. He doesn't survive. The wreckage in Boston mocks us all: No place is safe, and you can't protect anyone.
But I wonder, what if we stop running to the messes of life? What if we say, "It's too hard. It's too much. It's too scary and dirty"? Consider that. What if we just stop? Stop responding to a national crisis. Stop responding to a broken marriage. Stop responding to our own internal mess. Who do we become when we stop?
Run to the mess because someone needs the gift only you can give. Run to the mess because someone needs to know they aren't alone in their fear and pain. Run to the mess because you know how it feels to be in it.