Tuesday night, I was about as low as I have been for a long time. Literally, I kept crying randomly during the day at work. I simply could not see any light ahead in our current situation.
“I need to talk to someone,” I told Marnell. I told him I had thought of trying to get a hold of a local woman who had also taken many different people into her house through the years. But I didn’t know how to reach her.
Then, I shared with our small group from church (by message) about how much I was struggling. I then hurried off to help Marnell with Nick’s robotics team. The competition is Saturday (now today) so we have been scrambling to get things together.
Somehow, when I walked out of the science center, I felt great relief that I had not felt for probably 30 hours. If I had been at home all day, I would have thought it was just getting out into society. But I wasn’t. I had been with people all day, and I had felt a deep sense of gloom all day.
The relief I felt was deeper than a robotics class.
Next up was prayer meeting with our church. Again, I shared some of my struggles, although I pointed out that I had already felt relief from the prayers of our small group from Sandy Ridge.
“I feel so useless most of the time,” I said. “It’s like he (that particular young man) complains about everything and isn’t grateful for anything, so what’s the point? I’m not sure if I can do this.”
Sure enough, on the way home in the car that particular young man blew up when we got on the topic of missing school assignments and stomped away from the car as soon as we got home. Later, we gathered in the sitting room for prayer and Marnell helped him talk through his feelings.
“I am trying,” the boy insisted, “but people are still getting on me. It doesn’t help to do good things because I still get blamed. People say I’m still blaming other people for my problems and I’m not.”
An odd sense of empathy struck me at this moment.
He was being rather unreasonable, but I did remember a time in my life when I had felt much the same way.
“I’ve felt that way too,” I said. “And it’s unfortunate. The thing is, sometimes you can do the wrong thing for awhile and get away with it. But then sometimes you can do the right thing for awhile, and no one notices. Or, you start doing better, and about that time, other people find out about what you did wrong a long time before. They don’t know you’re doing better, and so they treat you like the person you used to be. It even happens in churches.”
I wasn’t giving him advice or even a solution. Just solidarity. And the odd thing was? He was quiet.
The next night, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but two loads of gifts from two families in our small group. Who knew how handy a freezer meal could be on robotics week? Or our favorite cheeses and meats and bread from the Nappanee Bakery?
The next night, the young man with the attitude completed four papers that his teacher had asked him to do, and didn’t drink all of his Dr. Pepper.
“What’s happening with me?” he said. “I’m doing better at school and not drinking as much pop. This is weird!”
Well, there are a lot of definitions of weird. Our life is weird. Politics are weird. Book publishing and robotics competitions are weird.
But on the roller coaster ride we are on, I’ll take the weird that follows prayer. I’ll take the weird that means less sugar. And I’ll take the weird that means doing better at school.
P.S. Our schedule today was weird too. Book signing this morning for me and robotics competition this afternoon for both boys, on separate teams. A few photos below!