I spoke with my best friend today before she went into work, and I realized something.
We are not alone.
She is one of the strongest and bravest people I know. She has been crushed by depression and has gotten back up and been hired by a major craft store chain. Not her first choice, but there she is with all types of people in the same boat.
The kid with two masters from Colombia University and a school in London, the grandma who hasn't worked in years, the twenty-something girl who just throws herself into whatever the manager tells her to do, and my friend. My beautiful friend, who, when she started, began by stocking shelves. It's a brand new store and all the people hired were given a section of the store and were busy little ants, hauling boxes, climbing step ladders, putting those miniscule little tags on the shelves with eyes that are over 50. Need I say more? The first week she said all she could do was go home, soak in the tub and eat Tylenol.
Yesterday, I helped Brenna and a foreign exchange student from China work on their forehand in tennis in 106 degree heat. My sciatica kicked in and I ended up soaking in the tub and eating Tylenol.
Today, my friend starts on the register, for which they have not been able to find the time to train her.
Now, I KNOW she can do it. But think about it. Still being a tiny bit fragile, she is going to stand at the register in a brand, spanking new craft store with women waiting in line who are beyond giddy with their treasures and have in their hot little hands the free-standing deer antler toilet paper holder that they desperately need to go home and put in their bathroom. Most likely before their husbands get home. Can you feel the tension in the room?
The thought of screwing up on the register with those needy eyes watching is more than she or I can bear.
I told her to get a scrap of material and write in black sharpie, "Be Patient With Me." and then tie it around her forehead. Kind of like she is preparing for battle.
Instead, we prayed together, like we have done for over 28 years. Our beggy prayers, asking God to equip us for the day, spilling out our fears and acknowledging our neediness.
I prayed that God would be her barrier-her shield. The space between her and mistakes made in front of people that can cause our psyches great harm.
The gentle pillow to fall on when she has to void a purchase and can't find the manager within the 1.2 seconds the customer thinks the manager should appear. You know, that awkward time the light on the register blinks while you try to make small talk with your customer and keep them occupied while the manager has to come with the magic key and unlock your register.
By the time we were done praying, I was in tears. I realized I NEED that barrier, too. The barrier between me and trying so hard to make sure my child has been equipped for everything that will come her way. The barrier between my lack of knowledge and the unknown. The gentle pillow I can throw myself against when, once again, I fall short in my harsh expectations of myself.
I think today, I will write on my hand, "be patient with me", as a note to MYSELF. I will make an effort to ask God, repeatedly, to be my barrier between myself and my thoughts that condemn me. To land softly on the pillow barrier and say, "thank you for the help in seeing I can't do it all."
Then, I will go buy myself a set of toilet paper- holding- deer antlers. Because you know, someone, somewhere has bought the same antlers.
Which means I won't be alone.