Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Shepherd

Today hasn't been a good day. I wouldn't be lying if I said that it's probably been the hardest day I've had in months. It seems like all the stress is piling up and ganging up and attacking me at once, and I've been bottling up things that threaten to come to the surface and I don't know if they'd make me feel better or destroy me if I let them out. My boss called me worthless at work last Saturday even though I bust my ass and try to stock as much as I can, and last night he threatened twice to fire me because he said he knows someone is trying to get away with not stocking by saying things are "backstock" (what we call items that are already full on the shelves). I know this isn't true, but the morning people keep saying it's true about me (I don't know why they hate me so much) and you can say all you want "oh, if it's not true, he won't fire you" but Ive been fired before from a job when I was accused even though I didn't do anything wrong. I'm barely scraping by as it is. Losing this job would be devastating for me. Especially when I work so hard to do my job and do it well, and I'm so stressed out about everything else in my life that my job was the only thing that seemed to be going well. I don't need this stress on top of everything else.

So yeah. Bad day. And I'm so tired of trying to have hope in the midst of a sea of people who keep telling me to have hope like it's easy to do, or like it's not something I'm already trying with every fiber of my being, while I get sicker and sicker and still don't have insurance and still have so much debt and still see people losing hope all around me and giving up and dying, and I want to tell them to have hope, but I know how trite that sounds to me and I want to give them something real, so I try my best only to have people mock my words or tell me I'm a drama queen. I'm about to stab the next person who says something like that to me.

See? Now I'm threatening to stab people. I want so badly to be a good person. I want to be the kind of person I expect others to be. It's so much harder than it sounds, and I'm so tired of trying and failing. When the author Renee Alston wrote in her book "Stumbling Toward Faith" about her husband, her description of him touched my heart in so many ways that I read it over and over and over again to remind myself that there is good in the world, even when I can't see it for myself:

there was so much that was shattered and broken in me. i was distrustful and skeptical, and i pushed love away because i was terrified of it. the thought of being hurt kept me from taking risks, and kept my life protected and safe.

my husband came into my life with great gentleness. he never forced his way in. he never insisted that i give him anything that i couldn't give. he simply sat with me and waited with me and loved me.

i learned from him the wonder of being loved. he has stayed with me even when i have begged him to leave. he has respected me even when i have yelled at him and thrown things at him and refused to respect myself. he has held me when there were no words to be said, knowing that to say them would only trivialize my pain.

he walked with me through the process of intense therapy, of nights when i slept in the bathtub or the closet, too terrified to be with another person; too full of memories to be in my own bed. he has watched me sign "no suicide" contracts and visited me in mental hospitals. he has nurtured the small wounded parts of me and always believed i would make it.

i have held on to his hope for me when i have had none for myself. i have held on to his love for me when i have felt unloved and afraid. through him i have learned that there are places in me that love can reach. through him i have been willing to begin to be loved. through him i have learned the worth of letting people in. because of him i began to open up to others again, to be brave.

he has been the beginning of my ability to believe.

That description tugs at my soul. It reminds me of what I'm trying to be for other people, and for myself, a friend...someone who is there for people and tries to give them hope; and I keep trying to remind myself that even if it seems like it doesn't matter, it does matter. So many people gave up on me. I want to be the kind of person who will not give up on someone else. I honestly don't feel strong enough, like I don't have one thousandth of the resolve I need, and the light I try to shine looks so small in the face of the darkness. I try to remember that it's important that I'm shining a light at all, but it's hard to remember that when all I can think about is what a horrible job I'm doing and how messed up my life is (and how bad my grammar is when I keep putting prepositions at the end of my sentences).

Have you guys ever seen Pulp Fiction? There's this part I keep thinking about, where Samuel L. Jackson's character says this:

There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you. I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before you popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. Now I'm thinkin': it could mean you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could be you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be a shepherd.

Maybe that's it. I'm the tyranny of evil men, but I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd. It doesn't seem like enough, but it's going to have to be, because it's all I've got right now.

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