Amidst our Mess – Jesus Desires Us

From July 2019 – July 2020, my fiancé Mike dedicated his life to serving the population of homeless people in Phoenix, Arizona, at a homeless house of hospitality called The André House.

Over the year, I visited Mike and spent quality time at The André House serving alongside him. Although Mike was the one who devoted a year to this mission, my life was consequentially changed as well. Experiences there moved my heart to respond with more compassion, more mercy, and more love.

Reflecting on my experiences at The André House, overseeing showers was one of the most memorable and impactful ways I served.

Many guests at the André House are familiar with the shower services and are grateful to have the opportunity to bathe themselves in privacy (even if it is for only ten minutes). Many people would not prefer to oversee showers for various reasons, including cleaning the grime left by someone else in the shower or dealing with the hostility of guests who think they deserve a higher place in line. Neither of these tasks is particularly enjoyable, but they are why I love showers so much. [Click for more of Alex’s reflection]

Although cleaning up someone else’s shower can be quite disgusting, it is also profoundly intimate and humbling. By washing the showers, I feel as though I can give each guest a sense of dignity that (1) they are not too disgusting to clean up after and (2) that each one of them deserves to shower in a clean space diligently prepared for them.

The shower time is usually closed out by a well-known guest who suffers from digestive issues. No matter how he treats the staff, or how difficult his shower may be to clean, the staff always offers a fresh set of clothes and ready hearts to care for him.

The relationship between the guest and the staff members is symbolic of many of our relationships with God. It is not uncommon for people to find themselves covered in sin (which sometimes might smell because it has been lingering). Yet, the Lord always has a shower and a clean set of clothes ready for us when we seek God’s for forgiveness.

It can be humiliating to acknowledge the sins that stain our hearts. For the guest, I can imagine the humiliation he may feel from having to take the last shower of the day and accept the clean set of clothes that have been prepared specially for him. Yet, each staff member loves him in his mess – just as God continues to love each one of us in our mess.

If you haven’t been to the sacrament of reconciliation recently, I strongly encourage you to do so. The Lord is always ready to receive us in our mess and is longing to give us a “new set of clothes” and a fresh start!

May we always remember that the mercy of God can never be outdone.

by Alex O’Sullivan, Coordinator for Youth Ministry