Lend a Helping Shovel


How can you help our hurting sisters and daughters?

It just isn’t fair.

We have well over a foot of snow on the ground. We seem to get some snow every few days. Over time, it compacts—and then accumulates more with the next snowfall.

Yesterday brought six new inches. My husband took our snow blower out and cleared the driveway and sidewalk—twice. It’s hard to find somewhere to put the snow, with the piles between the sidewalk and the street at the point where they can’t accommodate any more snow without spilling onto either the sidewalk or street. Still, Big Guy managed to get everything all cleared off.

This morning, I decided I wanted to get outside and soak up some sunshine. I grabbed the snow shovel and headed out, thinking I would just clean up some of the spots that the snow blower missed.


I discovered that the city plows had not only piled a foot of snow into our driveway, they had plowed so thoroughly that the snow piles reached maximum capacity and spilled all over onto my sidewalk. What my husband had cleared yesterday was covered by six inches of dirty, heavy wet snow.


I tackled the sidewalk and cleaned up the dirty filthy heavy mess that was a by-product of a tired, over-worked snow plow driver just doing his job and keeping our street cleared of snow. I tried to have a cheerful heart as I shoveled. (I was not successful.)

In life, sometimes we have to shovel the dirty stuff that has been plowed there by someone else. I made a lot of bad decisions as a young woman and created plenty of piles of heavy stuff—but some piles were added onto me by others. And I know that my decisions spread some messes that others had to deal with.

My husband has had to help me with the work of clearing. Sometimes, he’s helped by listening to me verbally process the things I’ve been thinking through, even though he’s heard me say the same things a hundred times before. He’s often had to remind me to take a break so I don’t strain something. Sometimes he’s even had to do some of the shoveling.

As Christians, we all lend a helping shovel when we can, right? We dig through our own piles, but we encourage, support, and pray for our brothers and sisters.

Heavy Lifting

My snow shoveling today required some pretty heavy lifting. Some spots were so deep and compacted that I had to tackle them three or four times just to get most of the snow out of the way. It was much harder work than I expected, and my muscles are still a little sore.

Most of my life’s piles have been getting cleared away, with lots of hard work and heavy lifting. Bit by bit, memory by memory, feeling by feeling, shovelful by shovelful, I’ve been digging through the spillover and can see the bare sidewalk beneath. It’s been harder than I expected.

The snow piles that will eventually melt and soak into our yard are pretty filthy looking. They’ve accumulated the dirt of the street and the exhaust of cars passing by. (If you’ve ever lived in a place where snow sticks around for a while you know exactly what I mean.) I stuck my bare hand right into one of the dirty piles and pushed aside the top layer that looked so ugly. Beneath the ugly surface of the snow pile, I found pure white snow.

Today is the first day above freezing that we’ve had in a long time. Since I’d cleared the bulk of the snow, the warm sun shining its light down got to work on the snow. A few hours later, the sidewalk and driveway were completely clear of the mess. I said a prayer of thanks for the Son that shines His light on us to clear up our mess and darkness and reveal the clean heart underneath.

Deeper to Dig and Harder to Clean

I am thankful that I’ve been able to dig through my piles.  And as the piles and spillover have been cleared, I have found my clean heart and have been able to fully share that heart with my husband in deep intimacy.

So many women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse and other traumas have so much more to dig through. The snow on their sidewalks is deeper, more compacted, and dirtier. It is also harder to lift and clear. Where I faced piles, they face mountains, through no fault of their own. They have as much right to deep intimacy as I do—yet they have to dig through so much more to get there.

I put the snow shovel away, left my snow-covered shoes on a rug to dry, and sat at my computer. I’d mentally written wrote most of this post while shoveling, so I figured I’d sit down and start writing—after I checked my email, Twitter, Facebook, . . .

Piles Far Deeper Than Mine

God grabbed my attention on Facebook (He knows me well) and changed the direction of this post.

On the screen in front of me was an opinion piece from the Washington Post on child sex trafficking. I read about the experience of children who are forced to have sex with countless men. Sometimes hungering for a connection that they were not getting from foster homes, they reached out to the only comfort offered to them and ended up in a cycle that the author refers to as “serial, systematized rape.”

I was struck by how small and petty my own piles of dirty snow were. These girls . . . I can’t even imagine. They’re practically babies. I want to wrap my arms around them and just love on them. What will happen to them? Who will teach them to be good and loving women? What if they can’t get out from underneath their piles? What choices are left to them as adults?

Who will help them deal with the mountainous piles that have been plowed onto them?

Directly below that article in my feed was a status update from Hookers for Jesus, which describes itself as a “faith based organization that addresses the realities of human sex trafficking, sexual violence, and exploitation linked to pornography and the sex industry.”

Think about the piles in your own life that you’ve had to deal with, and then think about the mountains these girls and women face in order to dig past the surface to find their bright and shining selves. Prayerfully consider how you can lend a helping hand and take care of even just one shovelful to save our sisters.

Many organizations work to help these girls and women trapped in the sex trade, saving them physically and spiritually. I would like to ask you to pray for the work of three organizations—not because I think these are the best three, necessarily, but because these three together show us that there are people fighting sex trafficking and the sex industry on the international and local levels, serving girls and women who are trapped.

Pray for their work. Donate time, expertise, or wishlist items. Make a financial contribution. Pray especially for the girls and women these organizations serve.

I know this is not my usual kind of blog post, but when God grabs my attention—on Facebook, no less—what else can I do?

Besides, . . .

 . . . it just isn’t fair.

`For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ ~ Matthew 25:35-40

How can you help our hurting sisters and daughters?

Image credit | congerdesign at Pixabay.com

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4 Comments on “Lend a Helping Shovel”

  1. As a wife with a few dirty piles of my own, my heart and soul aches for these victims. I am praying that through these ministries, sex trafficked girls and women can understand the grace of Christ will wash them white as snow. He will love them like no other, pure and undefiled. He will help them be whole again. Thank you for this, Chris.

  2. Well, we’ve given up on the snow front, there’s a few inches of compacted snow on our driveway now…

    Can’t afford to be that lazy with life issues. The snow will melt come spring, but a hardened heart won’t melt on it’s own, it takes some fairly deliberate and intentional warming.

  3. Great analogy. However, you forgot to mention the fact that when you don’t shovel all that wet, sloppy, dirty snow at the end of your driveway, and it gets really cold over night, all that stuff will freeze. What then?

    1. Since I cleared the sidewalk but didn’t get to the stuff at the end of driveway, I am currently experiencing what happens. It freezes into an uneven lumpy mess that makes it even harder to clear the next time you get snow. We are currently getting rain that will change over to snow. We’ll be able to clear the snow off, but we won’t be able to dig down to a clear spot until the sun warms that mess back up enough to be dealt with. My neglect of that area then will be an issue now.

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