Thursday, June 3, 2010
Yes, I can! No, I can't!
This painting is by Morgan Wiestling
I'm despairing to tell you that I could not find a beautiful painting depicting a lovely stressed out woman vomiting on herself in her car. Can you believe that?
Oh well, consider yourself spared. I was there, it wasn't pretty. It was horrible. This little blogspot is a space for dreams, hopes, dreams realized, then dashed and lessons learned. I think of it as a place where I can ask you to pray and know in my heart you do. It's a safe place for me to tell it like it is, even if its ugly and perhaps even totally humiliating. If you're not in the mood to read about that last bit then you should move along. I'm going to be gut-wrenchingly frank now.
On Wednesday I felt certain I heard the Lord tell me that I needed to "prepare to go to work this afternoon". I took a shower, picked out a nice conservative outfit and ironed it and waited for the call inviting me to start my new adventure back in the working world. Like clockwork, after all of those things took place, the phone rang and the expected invitation was delivered. I showed up at my new workplace at 2:00 pm. By 3:00 pm I was professionally parked in front of a computer in a ultra secure windowless room down a long hallway.
"Oh God," I whispered to Him, "What are you doing? Why am I here in this depressing place. I can hardly breathe. What's the point of all this?" I heard Him respond, "Who is praying for these people in this hidden place?" In my presence at that particular moment were three women who seemed spiritually dry as the proverbial bone. I could feel the sucking sensation of the spiritual vacuum. It felt overwhelmingly hopeless. I began to pray for them.
As I listened to their idle conversation the focus was entirely on personal physical ailments that all three were currently suffering from. I shut my lips to the question that begged to be let out, "Why don't you all just pray and ask the LORD for healing?" I prayed for them some more and prayed for them on the way home. I wrote to the LORD this morning in my journal and added written prayers for them there.
This morning was to begin the first full-time day of work that I have had since the Summer of 2003. Gracie followed me around like a belt-loop. She looked sorrowfully into my eyes throughout the morning before I left at 8:30 and kissed my lipstick off two times. "Do you have to go? Why do you have to go to work? Please don't go, Mama. I'll miss you too much." I pried her beautiful body off of mine for the last time, swallowed hard and shut the door behind me as I told her "I love you, have a good day." Rod had already ironed my clothes, made his and her breakfast and fed the dog. I felt like I had my shoes on the wrong feet and my pants on backward. It was all wrong. I hated seeing him do MY jobs. He even did them without complaining.
I tried to focus on something nice as I drove to work. (I hate that phrase now: "drove to work".) I remembered Gracie in the car in the very dark on the freeway last night. She and I were coming home from church. Miss Susan handed her a large stack of foam stars attached to glittery gold elastic strings. On each star had a woman's name who had been in our Esther Bible Study. (Last night was the grand finale of the study.) Gracie gently patted each star and declared to me in the darkness of the backseat, "These are the names of the women who love the LORD." Profound. This child's heart is attached to His; the testimonies keep coming. I welled up a little at the truth of it. The hot sunshine in my face in the bank parking lot slapped me angrily out of last night's blissful memory.
In my nervousness at starting this new job I failed to eat a thing. Two cups of Seattle's Best Decaf mixed with Dunkin' Donuts Cinnamon Spice coffee and a bunch of Half and Half were the only things nourishing my sickened heart. My stomach growled. By ten o'clock it began rumbling uncomfortably and I felt terribly dizzy and nauseated. I was trapped in this room, in this chair, behind this computer screen punching endless numbers into the keyboard. More faces entered this private world. They were all friendly and smiling. I pasted one on my face that did not match the truth in my heart. "I don't belong here, Lord. Help me, I think I'm going to faint. Why didn't I eat anything...at all...for breakfast? Oh God, have mercy on me, I'm going to throw up if I don't get out of here!"
Lunchtime arrived and by then my head was throbbing with a terrific ache. Did I forget to take my blood pressure meds last night? Is this a migraine? A sinus headache? All of them? Precious Rod was waiting in his car to take me to lunch. We drove with the a/c on and the windows down. I couldn't take another minute without fresh air. The green: luscious and wonderful, filled my number-weary eyes as we drove to get a drive thru hamburger. "Oh, Lord, snap me out of this. I can't go back into that place, it's horrible. How can those women work there EVERY DAY? I miss my kids, my dog, my home, my porch, my kitchen. I miss my laundry and my pots and pans. I can't eat another one of those yucky pre-made dinners I bought for Rod to cook, Lord." I whined aloud and in prayer for the entire lunch hour. The hamburger and fries only soured my empty stomach. Now, I knew I was going to be sick.
Rod was pensive and sad. He said that he felt certain this wasn't right: me working and him being home. "No duh," I thought. This revelation added to the ensuing anxiety attack that was coming on. The only good thing apart from my husband's soothing voice was that great and wonderful green of God's glorious Summer bombarding my eyes. "Oh, Lord, to be trapped away from your masterpiece in a gray room without windows is a vicious fate. Please, LORD, I can't go back there. I can't."
Rod pulled up to the building. Lunch was over. My stomach disagreed. "You'll see it again sometime soon," it promised. I pitifully waved goodbye at my beloved and slowly made the horrific journey back down the long hallway and into my secured chamber. This time waves, tidal waves of nausea rushed over me. A panic struck me and I began to fear that I would puke right there on the floor. Up I got and excused myself to the ladies' room for a spell of quiet prayer and a cool wet paper towel applied to the back of my neck. "Dear Jesus, if you want me to compete this task and stay in this job then you are going to have to miraculously snap me out of this. Bring me times of refreshing and the oil of joy, right now." Uncontrollably, I belched and swallowed the nasty stuff down.
It brought me back to another time in my life working at the bank. When I was unknowingly pregnant and lost my lunch right on a customer's savings deposit slip. I was mortified and humiliated beyond measure. Here I was again, twenty one years later, getting ready to hurl at the bank. I waited for my weak cry for help to touch His ears. I waited for His merciful comfort to come. The dizziness intensified and I drew in deep quick breaths. I left the restroom making my way to that nice HR lady's office who'd hired me only the day before. She was out to lunch. Oh boy. I was in trouble. My mind was made up. I couldn't stick it out. I had to leave and leave for good.
A half an hour later I explained to her between gulps of short air and sweat beading up on my scalp that I was terribly, terribly sorry to leave her like this, but this just wasn't going to work out. She, understandably, was not really happy to hear that. She asked if I could stay at least until the end of the day, perhaps come back tomorrow, too. I gulped down another breath of stale office air and tried to shake off the notion that soon I would be spilling my lunch on her nice desk. "I can't," I said. "I just can't do this. I've been a stay at home mom for too long. My kids need me. I need them. I have to go now. I'm so sorry. Please forgive me." I turned away from her pretty but shocked face. Bless her heart. I really liked that woman, too.
I ran outside into the jungle heat emanating up from the blacktop and opened the door to my searing car. I began to cry. The pain in my head was intolerable. My sinuses were pounding. My stomach lurched and I thought instantly, "I'm going to lose it right here. Oh, no, LORD, not here!" Quickly I got into my boiling car and cranked the a/c. I called Rod on his cell phone and immediately began blubbering, "I quit my new job! I quit my new job! Oh Rod, I'm so sorry. I just couldn't do it! I think I'm gonna throw up!" I snuffled a nosefull and listened to my husband tell me how everything was gonna be all right and don't cry and come right home. It's gonna be fine.
Ten minutes later I was on the freeway sobbing with humiliation and angst. My head was splitting, my stomach was lurching and my gag reflex was kicking up. "Oh God, please don't let me puke in my car. Please, LORD, please. I can't puke on myself in my car!" And then, I did just that. I threw up all over myself in my nice work outfit. It was vile. And then, a few seconds later, I did it again. And then, I peed my pants. What on earth was happening to me? "Oh, God," I asked aloud wiping myself off with one of my embroidered hankies, "Where are YOU? Do You see Your daughter here?" I called Rod and blubbered some more, "I just puked all over myself." "Jenn, Jenn...slow down, I can't understand what you're saying. What's happening, where are you?" I took a deep breath and wailed, "I just threw up all over myself in my caaaaarrrr!" The tears gushed out and my husband said, "Get home, now!" Like there was another choice.
I have never been so glad to see this green house in my whole life. I jumped out of the car like a scalded cat and hosed the vomit off of myself in the grass. The cold water felt fantastic and I felt wretched. Just wretched. What a rotten experience. I failed. I failed my dear friend from Bible study who got me that job. I humiliated myself in that nice HR lady's office and probably blew my witness to the prisoners in the secret room. I failed HIM. I FAILED HIM. Oh, did I ever blow it (in more ways than one).
Rod cleaned out my car and disinfected it while I had a shower. After donning my pj's Rod came in and said, "I think God was showing us that you belong home and I belong at work. That's why this happened. You didn't fail Him, Jenn. He's teaching us stuff. Now, we know. You have a job and it's right here. I don't want to do your job and I feel guilty about you going out there in that mean old world and doing MINE." We prayed a weary prayer together.
I called my dear Liz. I blubbered the whole thing over again to her. "Oh, honey. I'm so sorry that happened. I'm so sorry you threw up and it was horrible. I just couldn't imagine you there in that dreary place all day when you have such a lovely home and such a beautiful family to care for. I'm so sorry but I'm so glad and so relieved that you're all done with that place." And then she prayed this glorious prayer over me, that the LORD would bathe me in comfort and peace and soothe me with rest in His green pastures beside His still waters. I was basking in the thought of it when the searing headache began to lessen. My stomach stopped churning and settled down like a tired child. I was home.
I snuggled into my soft quilt covered bed. I admired the roses on the wall and lay there praying that God would forgive me. He offered this, "I knew this was going to happen. I knew it before you were born. Remember that I wrote every one of your days down in my book before there ever was one." Oh. Yeah. Okay.
So, here's the moral to this story. Those precious souls in that workplace need prayer. I will pray as the LORD leads. You pray, too. (They have to go back tomorrow!) God has blessed me with the ministry of motherhood and wifedom. It's a good, good life. It's not worth any amount of money to me to change places with Rod. And there's still hope on the horizon that Rod will land this good job he's applied for.
So, here I am. Humiliated but happy. My anxiety is gone and the slate is clean again. I got to bang around in my kitchen at 4:45 (my regular time) and make us a beautiful dinner of roast pork, sauteed green beans, and mashed potatoes with real butter. I sat amongst my precious ones and was grateful for the sounds of satisfied tummies...including mine.
Thank you, dear Jesus, for being so good to me. I love you more than life itself. You gave me life itself and I am grateful that You answered my daily prayers from 1999-2003, "Oh God, get me outta here. Let me go home and just be a mom!" I praise You my LORD for you are so good and Your mercy endures forever! Amen.