I think most adults, and even some astute teenagers and children, realize that there are times when we are allowed to see the effects of our efforts and labors and other times we will simply have no idea of the ramifications of our actions, both good and bad.
I have a tale of both of those things. And they happened in ONE day. One made me think I was getting a lovely, wrapped up package with a big bow, and one of them physically scared the ever-loving hell out of me.
I know the last few weeks have been a lot for y’all and I am trying very hard to just get back to a normal rhythm of life, but life is still pretty big and complicated and hairy.
SO, I have decided that I probably have time to write about my little life and all the things on my mind 2-3 times a week but that Sunday is MY day to talk about the spiritual journey I am on. I am not saying I am going to hammer scriptures or religion at you (though some days, yeah…I may bring those things up) I just want to have a day where I can talk about things of a more significant spiritual experience without feeling weird or like I am strangling you all with it.
This week I wrote about a man that works at a local gas station. He is the one who had never said a single word to me, but then he really shocked and touched my heart when he offered my dog a treat and gave me a smile.
That wasn’t the end of the story.
The next day I drove up to the same gas station and ordered a Diet Coke. There was a man with a clipboard standing there and I asked if he was the manager. He said no, but that he was actually right in the other room. I got the impression that this was odd for the time of day.
When the manager came to the window and asked how he could help me, I said, “You have a young man working here I want to speak to you about. He is in his early 20′s and he rarely says anything…”
At that moment, the manager’s face got a troubled, weary look and the man with the clipboard said, “What did ‘Billy’ do now?”
I could tell that complaints about this man were obviously very common.
I told him that he hadn’t done anything wrong at all and I accounted how touched I was by his actions.
It turns out that it is store policy to offer expiring jerky to dogs. (OH, how I was tempted as a writer to exclude this to make the narrative more interesting but I have always sworn that even though I am an over-the-top DramaLama blogger, I ALWAYS strive to be as truthful as possible.)
But, while it is store policy, this man executes it far more faithfully than his co-workers. The manager told me that he is always early to work and a good worker but that he has a lot of problems and that is partially why he was hired.
But you could tell that the manager has taken a lot of complaints about this man.
“He’s really misunderstood.”
I got that.
And something just impressed me to speak.
“I hope this doesn’t sound lame, but this is a GOOD man. I really hope you allow him to keep his job.”
The manager looked taken aback and said, “I appreciate that very much. It really helps.”
I am not remotely about to say that I saved a job or did anything remotely important here, but I DID get the impression that this man wanted to keep this worker on as an employee because he knew he was a hard worker and had a lot of problems, but that he was also getting a lot of flack for doing so.
I truly hope he can continue on and that it will work out.
I drove away and went about my day.
And that day was long and hard and tiring.
It has been a hefty, HEFTY week.
I feel strong and competent and peaceful and just really OK with myself, but I will be honest…I am utterly exhausted. I am supposed to sing in church with my twin sister and I just do not know where I will get the energy to pull it off. After I did all the errands and things I had to do, I started to drive home to lay down for about 45 minutes before I had to start my evening “To Do” list.
And then something truly…frightening happened.
For the last year, there has been a man I have noticed on the street.
Heck, I think most of Cache Valley, Utah, has noticed this man on the street.
He stands out on Main Street every single day and it is obvious that he is extremely mentally ill. What makes him stand out is that he is always covered from head to toe. He wears a bandanna that covers his face and neck, dark sunglasses and his head is wrapped up. Over his long sleeved undershirt, he wears these t-shirts with handmade lettering and large statements that make no sense whatsoever. They usually talk about God, Jesus, and Racists. For example, his slogan today was, “IF JESUS IS A FAKER AND REPENTERS ARE COWARDS”
No sense at all, but curious as all get out.
I have thought about him a lot since he is there everyday. I wonder how he can handle the sheer heat of the day covered as he is. I have wondered if he is schitzophrenic and what his world view must be. I have just been very curious about him.
My husband made it clear that if I am ever on the street with the kids and he is there, to turn around the other way.
On my way home, when I was so tired, it crossed my mind that if I saw that guy again, I should talk to him.
But it didn’t really seem like a possibility at the moment so I shrugged it off.
Let me be clear about something.
I have never been the girl to get a nagging feeling I should “do” something. Like, never. I don’t think, “I need to call this person right now!” or drive to someone’s house or really have any kind of impression that most of mankind seems to have had since birth and I have lacked.
Frankly, now that it is going on, I am in awe of all of you who have heard these naggings and promptings and who have obeyed them.
BECAUSE IT TOTALLY MESSES WITH YOUR SCHEDULE AND LIFE, YO.
As I was about to find out.
All my focus was just getting home, picking up Butterlump from the neighbor and falling into bed for as long as I could before I had to make dinner for my parents and family.
And then I saw the dude with the tshirt.
And it was very, very clear that I was supposed to go and talk to this man.
I threw the biggest mental pout-hissy-fit ever.
NO. NO. NO.
I will NOT do this.
I am exhausted.
I am dirty and hot and my neighbor has had my kid for 3 hours. My husband told me never to talk to this guy and I AM NOT GOING TO DO THIS EVER SO NEENER NEENER AND I AM GOING TO TAKE A FREAKING NAP. Wasn’t the jerky guy enough for one day?!
Apparently, it wasn’t.
I don’t know how to express it but it was almost like the sternest, booming command.
“TURN AROUND AND GO TALK TO THAT MAN. NOW.”
So, I turned around.
After this last week, I may be stubborn, but I am not that stupid, people.
But while my concern up to that point had been about how tired and drained I was, I became truly afraid.
This is a big and scary dude.
If anyone from the valley is reading this, they can attest that this is really the last person in the world you want to approach and talk to.
You need to know how seriously I took this. For one, even though I have had an incredible experience, I have NOT ever felt invincible or like I want to go conquer the world. Tell me story to all, yes, but NOT THIS. And secondly, after Matthew died and I felt like I couldn’t handle the grief, I checked into a psychiatric ward. If you ever want to know if you are sane? GO CHECK INTO ONE OF THOSE WARDS. It was horrible. And I truly did not belong there. I am grateful it is there because oh, my it is needed. But really…there needs to be another option for people who are not completely crazy but suffering with a weight they can’t handle because it was hell to be in there. To be blunt, I was by far the best looking female in there and that was not a good thing.
A very big man who had a thing for me had been out of the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit for exactly four hours before he CHARGED at me. They tackled him and shot him up with a sedative and took him back to the PICU.
So, I do not mess around with this. I KNOW how unstable the truly ill can be.
Luckily, I ALSO assessed that this was most likely a schizophrenic and while those can be the most outwardly frightening, they are actually very rarely violent.
But honestly, THAT DID NOT HELP ME MUCH WHILE I WAS DRIVING TO TALK TO THIS DUDE.
My legs were shaking and I had an very intense dialog going on with God.
“You know you could not ask me to do many things more frightening then this, right?”
“You PROMISE ME that I will be kept safe and from harm?”
It was the highest assurance or I could not have done this.
When I parked I also realized he was standing right outside the police station and we were on a street that was almost bumper to bumper with traffic. If the man had laid a finger on me, I am pretty sure someone would have plowed their car into him.
Once I had that figured out, the thought struck me that, um…what the heck was I supposed to say to this dude??!
I have had the opportunity to take his photo many times. If I posted it here, it would only help illustrate my story.
But I would never, ever do something like that.
This man is sick. It is not his fault and using his image would be a horrible offense to me.
So, it was very sincere and important to me that whatever I said to him was genuine and not the fuzzy, cheesy crap that most religious people spew at people in broken situations that makes me want to puke. In ALL this, I have tried to be very clear that this is not “Oh, look at Loralee helping the poor, broken people of the world! Awesome!”
I have always felt that whatever help I can be to someone, I almost always come away feeling like I have been the one being helped.
It’s important to me that people understand I see this as a mutual thing.
So whatever came out of my mouth to this man had to be sincere.
And it was.
He was even bigger and scarier standing 2-inches from him than from across the street in my car.
He stood stock still and looked off in the distance when I approached him.
“Sir…I have seen you out here every day and I am wondering if you can tell me about your shirts?”
And I mean NOTHING.
I wondered if the guy was even breathing.
I just went on talking.
“You don’t have to look at me. You don’t have to acknowledge I’m standing here. I am not even sure if you understand what I am saying. I do not understand most of your Tshirts, but I have noticed that a lot of them are about God. I just want you to know that I think it is pretty remarkable that you stand out here every day in the heat and state what you believe in the best way you can.”
“That’s all I wanted to say. I hope you have a good afternoon.”
I turned and walked away and said to myself “YOU ARE A TOTAL DILLWEED, LORALEE. WAY TO TALK TO A STATUE AND MAKE A TOTAL DORK OUT OF YOURSELF.”
But as I opened my car door, there was this very small and gentle feeling of…
It wasn’t dramatic, there was not a big ending, just…I did what I was asked, even if it scared the hell out of me. (And despite the fact that yes, I still have a bit of a potty mouth. ;) )
I don’t know if I will ever know why I was asked to do what I did.
I don’t really know that I even care that much.
Because I think that almost everything happens for a reason and if God needs me to be the channel to execute that reason?
Even though I still feel very unprepared for a lot of this I will do my best to just…try to do what is asked of me.
And I think that is enough.