When the Christmas season rolls around, I often think of Edna who some called “The Cat Lady.”
Edna needed a change, but she refused it – much like that difficult person in your life.
I was teaching my youth group when Edna appeared. She wore dirty clothes and matted hair. There was a fungal growth the size of a softball on her forehead, and she smelled of cat urine.
She interrupted the meeting, pushed two empty milk jugs in my face and demanded that I fill them with water. I tried to talk with her, but she wanted water not conversation. I filled them and she left.
This became a Wednesday night ritual for Edna and me. I learned that she had once been very wealthy but had spent it all. She lived in a condemned apartment complex – the last of her holdings.
I learned that her brother was aware of her condition. He loved her and was ready to financially support her – to get her a safe home and some professional help. She refused.
Social services regularly contacted me and quizzed me about her. They were looking for grounds to commit her to institutional care but they were never able to make the case.
I tried to help her as best I could, but she refused offers of transportation, hotel accommodations, food and so on. Unfortunately, she was comfortable with her chaos.
One December night she came to the church flustered and frightened. Someone had shattered her window and broken into her apartment. She was afraid to go home, so I brought her to our house.
Her feline fragrance filled the car. My three kids were speechless. She slept in the living room next to our Christmas tree. The kids feared she might steal the gifts.
That morning she ordered me to board up the window that had been broken. Only then would she feel safe. I pulled up to her apartment complex. It was surrounded by a chain link fence 8 feet high. Inside the grounds were cats, hundreds, maybe a thousand cats roaming about.
There was also an acre of brown paper grocery bags overflowing with empty cat food cans. I was thankful for the cats cause it meant no rats. It was like a script from a sci-fi movie.
I boarded up her window and made her very happy. And that was the last time I saw the Cat Lady.
I am by nature a compulsive fixer. I really wanted to do more than board up that window. I wanted to fix Edna, but she refused.
What do you do with someone like that – someone like your brother who is a lifelong alcoholic; or your dad who pummels you with his politics? What do you do with your niece who greedily grabs onto every guy she meets or your daughter who has cut off all contact with you?
You can’t fix em, but you can do a few things that may help. First…
Love Em: Romans 2:4 tells us that it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance. Kindness affects and draws others to us. So fill the milk jugs with water for the Edna in your life. Even if they don’t come around, it is still the right thing to do.
Let up: It could be that they are reacting to us. Our subtle efforts to try to change them could be galvanizing them and cementing them in their choices. We think we are nudging them to the truth, but in reality, we may be pushing them away.
Let God: Paul instructed Timothy, “I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people.” – 1 Timothy 2:1. We need to pray for those people. It was the Lord who personally confronted Saul on the Damascus Road and transformed him into the apostle Paul. God still pursues stubborn people.
A PRAYER: God please give us hope for those who seem to be hopeless.
This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of Our Lord Jesus be with you.
Scripture references are from the NETBible.com