Ok, I admit it...I worry. It's a genetic thing in my family. I come from a long line of worriers, probably some little old ancestor lady of mine worried the Mayflower across the sea.
Let me share one with you. I worry about writing too much about my job. I recognize that the stories of struggling people can tug and pull at the emotions and the heartstrings, but that's not my worry. Quite frankly, tht's my goal. A little bit of perspective in our lives is a good thing. We have our struggles and challenges, but we should never be too focused on our own junk. It's unhealthy. I need to remember that I have a lot of reasons to be grateful. To remember that no matter how troubled my life is, I can still always stretch out a hand to someone else.
So what IS my worry? That the opposite of what I am trying to do is highlighted. I am a regular person with all kinds of flaws and limitations. Given my own nature, I can go to self-centered very easily. I can be short-sighted. I am terrible at keeping up with friends - ask anyone who loves me. Only very forgiving people get to be my friends, because I need that forgiveness so much.
I am not writing to highlight myself in this section. They are "sighs" because THEY touch my heart. The people in need, the over 100 volunteers who pitch in, the incredible staff who make me look good. They are the heros and the often unsung heros, but even they are not the reason I write here. YOU are. Stories of truth need to be told to people who have a desire to think about what that truth means to them. My goal is to point at something that might cause someone to reflect, or to consider a small change in their own sphere of influence. I don't arrogantly think I'm here to change lives, but I am here to tell about my experiences and to share how they have changed me as a person. The rest lives in you.
And without your own words... we would not know how lucky we are, how we need to share. At least for me your words reach me in that way. :)
Most of us appreciate the harsh reality you deal with every day, and take the time to open our eyes to.
What is the old saying? If troubles were shoes and everyone threw them in a pile, you would dig with determination just to get your own shoes back.
Or something like that... it might not be an old saying. I might have just made it up...
I never heard that before. I really like it. Thanks, birra.
He came at the end of our day. He needed so much, and we were readying for our bible study. He interrupted us. We had to re-gear and re-focus. He was difficult to help. Shelter, transportation, medical care, food, and more. We could not arrange a ride for him, so we offered him a bicycle. He has seizures, so he chose instead to walk the 2 miles to the State Park where we are bedding him down tonight.
We fitted him with a backpack and one of our special "Agape Bags." He'll have a handmade quilt, food that does not have to be heated, underclothes, clothing, a tent, and a gift card. He has two water bottles holstered on his hips. He will be back tomorrow. That's the win here. A homeless man has a place to lie down with a full tummy in clean clothes. He has the address of a place that wants him to come back and not keep going down the road. He left with smiles. He said thank you. That doesn't always happen. We celebrate the moments when it does.
Sometimes, as a part of my job, I am required to speak to people who suffer from mental illness. Some of them just want to talk with a person who does not sound bored while they speak, someone who doesn't shut them down quickly and hang up or walk away from what can become exhausting. They often take a loonnng time to get to the point and it's going to be a bumpy ride getting there, so strap in and meet one of my favorite people. We'll call him Charles.
C: Thank goodness it's you. Maybe you're the one.
J: What's going on, Charles? Everything ok?
C: No, not really. I'm so upset. I was making egg salad and I was down to my last groceries. When my new neighbors moved in, I really liked them and we started borrowing back and forth. And while I'm making egg salad, he knocked and asked to borrow my two eggs and I was using them. I told him he could have one egg and then he asked for two bananas so I told him yes. Are you still there?
J: Yes. That was nice of you to share what you had.
C: Not really. Then I got to thinking that they just don't have anything, you know? So I went in my pantry and pulled out things I can't eat...Rice A Roni boxes and macaroni and cheese and then I grabbed the egg and went to their door.
J: You decided to give them your last egg after all?
J: That was really considerate.
C: Not really. Then I knocked on their door and they have a dog that's rushed me and some other people and when he opened the door, it rushed me and grabbed onto my crotch and I knew if I jerked, it would rip off. But he wouldn't call off the dog so I jerked and I heard it tear and I grabbed myself and somehow made it back to my apartment.
J: What did you do?
C: I was in shock. I mean, I called animal control but told them I wouldn't press charges but I was in shock. I was in shock for like 3 weeks and then I went to the hospital. I called a bus and went to the hospital and the girl looked like she stepped off vogue magazine. (big pause)
J: charles? You said she looked like shewas from Vogue?
C: Yeah, the girl who did the MRI. I haven't had a girlfriend since I was 19 and I'm 50 now and...well... let's just saylet'sjustsaylet'sjust say...how do I put this so it's appropriate...let's just say...when I walked out, I was a stallion.
J: Charles, what is your question for me?
C: What do I do?
J: About the injury by the dog?
C: No, the people. I'm so angry and feel a lot of resentment.
J: You know that those sound like reasonable responses and emotions to me.
C: Well, what do I do with those feelings? I really don't know.
J: You have them, Charles. You feel them and let yourself know that they're ok.
C: Well they live next door. What about that? He told animal control for me to stay away from their door.
J: Then you have to respect his wish even if you don't like it or agree with it. The only other choice is to ignore it and retaliate against them.
C: You mean, go on with my life?
C: That's the most reasonable answer anyone has given me to this question. How come you get to think that way?
J: You think that way, too. You brought them food when they were hungry.
C: No. No, no. I don't think rational. I can't like that. You can vocalize like that and it all makes sense.
J: You're selling yourself short, Charles. Vocalizing isn't the important part. It's deciding to move forward and not retaliate. Just remember, even with a plan to move forward, sometimes emotions linger for a while and that's normal and ok. It's like having a whole pie and for a while, most of the 8 slices are bad and slowly you get 7 of the 8 slices of that pie to be good...1 piece may still be bad, but it's manageable. It's the smallest part of the pie.
C: THAT'S IT! That's what I want. That makes sense. How do you do that? I love talking to you. Things make sense and I want to write it all down. Will you write it all down?
J: You're doing better than you think you are, Charles. You shared food from the little you had. Your heart was in a good place. Usually when you offer kindness to people, they will respond the right way and be thankful, but sometimes they don't. This was one of those times, but don't be discouragd. You keep being good to others. There's nothing different or special about me...just like you, I have to pick my attitude and I'm stubborn. I choose to be a happy person. You can, too...even when it's frustrating sometimes. I believe in you.
C: OK. But I have so much hurt in my past. I can't get away from it. You make sense but I need to hear this a lot, like every day.
J: Then we'll keep talking about it.
What makes Charles so incredibly special is that he knows he has a mental illness. He feels the separation acutely between himself and "normal" people. He recognizes his difficulty with relationships while people all around him have flourishing relationships. It makes for a lonely and frustrating life - an isolated life. I can't imagine his daily struggles. Yet he aspires to be a good man. He is my hero.
Oh my GOD!!! I truly loved this... thank you for sharing. (:
What an inspiration. ♥
Sometimes I think a lot of our diagnosed mental illnesses are scars left by the world around us, dismissed as something that needs to be cured instead of something that just need help in healing.
You help with the healing.
The world would be a better and happier place if there were many, many, many more people like you.
The world might be a better place, but there is only one Joli. You make us all want to walk a little lighter and be a little kinder. Charles is lucky to have a friend like you.
I love to read things like this. Only too often, people like Charles just need a Joli to listen.
Charles is a hero but so are you for being a friend :)))
Thank you for being you.
You have a great choice in heros ..... as does he ;-)
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