Stress vs. Starvation: There’s Really No Contest

Wow. It’s been a stressful week–what with my Blackberry seizing (RIP) and the new iPhone (ordered via my company’s website since it’s a business account) on back order. I felt like Linus with my security blanket yanked out from under me. Although I’ve got to admit, it’s a bit of a relief to be inaccessible at times. Wonder if there’s a phone dependency support group?

I also submitted a work product into a company review process that I’ve never navigated before. I was told if I didn’t annotate it properly with references, it would get kicked out and I couldn’t resubmit for 20 more days. Which of course shoots project timelines all to hell.

The biggest stressor, however, is a mandatory 6 day work training that culminates on Wednesday with a fill-in-the-blank certification test (15 questions, 20 minutes, closed book) that my failure to pass may result in disciplinary action up to and including separation. A kinder, gentler way of saying “they’s gonna fire yo ass.” Did I mention there’s over 300 pages of study material? Using words like hypercorticism and urticaria? Really. Course if they do fire me, I won’t have to worry about the aforementioned project timelines. Who says I’m not an optimist?

20120226-005610.jpgSo when Stan and I had lunch with Jerri on Sunday and she mentioned the deposit to her EBT account was on Tuesday and could I take her to get groceries at Walmart and while we were there, could we look at microwaves because that’s what she wants for her birthday, I, uh, snapped just a little. Okay, a lot. Ten minutes later at the end of a detailed rant on my life with stress that was enjoyed by at least three nearby tables in Maggiano’s, I agreed to take Jerri to Walmart Tuesday after work.

Despite my own stuff, I made time for Walmart, because in the game of rock-stress-starvation, starvation trumps stress every time. (I believe rock pounds stress and starvation eats rock but I’m a little fuzzy on the rules.)

An interesting adverse effect of converting from a Blackberry to an iPhone is you lose saved messages. Knowing this, I replayed them one last time before activating the iPhone which finally arrived after five difficult days of mobile abstinence. The messages were mostly from Jerri, one from a time when I was taking a hiatus from returning her calls because she was making me crazy. The details are hazy so I’ve probably suppressed them. Which means therapy is likely in my future. In that message, she asks me to take her to get groceries because she’d eaten the last bit of food she had, a box of macaroni and cheese, and it was the only meal she’d had that day.

Most of us could stand a day or two without food. Jerri, however, weighs about 89 pounds when she’s soaking wet. So the girl’s gotta eat.

I don’t know what it’s like to really be hungry. I mean, I’m hungry now but all I have to do is walk the 20 feet to my pantry and there’s a whole plethora of food substances to choose from. I don’t know what it’s like to look in my cabinet and see nothing, zilch, nada. To open my refrigerator to only cold air. To walk to the shelter in the freezing rain for a meal or simply go without. Jerri knows these things. I find it deeply disturbing.

Equally disturbing is the number of people in Durham who share the same plight. I used to be somewhat blind to poverty. I could pretend it wasn’t real by simply avoiding the poorer sections of town. The sections where Jerri now lives. I can’t avoid them anymore because I have to drive through them to see her. I can’t close my eyes to the teenage boy with 6 bags of groceries standing at the bus stop in the pouring rain. Or the man without a coat, lugging a pillowcase of dirty clothes half a mile to a rundown laundromat in the Hispanic district on Roxboro. What if I stopped and gave these folks a ride? But I’m driving around in a Lexus with an iPhone attached to my ear and I’m embarrassed, even ashamed, to have so much when they have so little. I make excuses as I drive past, warm and comfortable and dry. I tell myself it’s not safe to pick up strangers but as I surfed blogs at 4 am having given up all hope of embracing the inside of my eyelids, I was reminded that I am the greatest liar I will ever know.

I don’t know what to do with all this. Maybe take a hot bath and mull it over. So today’s blog doesn’t resolve–I hope you’re not too disappointed. You can blame it on stress-induced sleep deprivation. I know I sure will.

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7 Comments on “Stress vs. Starvation: There’s Really No Contest”

  1. Marsha Coleman says:

    I believe God helps us see things for a reason. Perhaps in someway someday you will be able to affect change in this area. It could be a big (designing a program….changing your job) or small (donating a dollar at the grocery store…giving money to someone on the street) thing. I think we see these things to stay open to them. The fact that you care and are sensitive to these things is huge. Get your rest so you can have the energy to be open for those things you are called to do!

  2. Linda says:

    Terri,
    I understand your frustration. I’ve been there, too. I also feel guilty sometimes about the poverty, especially of children and the disabled. I attend a church that contributes to food banks and shelters. I wish I could do more, also. I share my cooked dishes sometimes with my neighbor and she with me and sometimes I share it with my dog, but I don’t personally know anyone who is hungry and starving. Until I have the time and energy (i.e, when I retire) I will keep sharing through established channels.
    Remember also that we help those less fortunate with our tax dollars. Many people, including politicians and elected officials complain about helping those in poverty and often blame them for causing it. Another way to help the homeless, sick, disabled, and the hungry is to let our elected representatives know we support these programs and to not try to balance the budget on their backs.

  3. Terri, I’ve been having similar convictions lately that stemmed from a couple of books I read by Stacy Danson about her story as a sexually abused child (yes CHILD at 3 yoa) and homeless plight at the age of 9. Don’t ask me how I found these books as they are self-written and published in the way deep confines of Kindle online books. Nor do I know why I chose to read them as I never read anything remotely similar to this painful and disturbing type of story. It’s safer to stick my fingers in my ears, shake my head and say nananananananana until the vision of something so horrible goes away and I can regroup to my comfortable surroundings. Why would I want to visit the story of a group of children living together in a metal container trying to survive on little to no food?

    I’ve been asking God to show me new things and I can’t say it was a warm and fuzzy thing he showed me. The day after I finished the second book (I could hardly put them down,) I met another coach who works with http://www.orangeduffelbagfoundation.org/ and the connection happened. This organization is expanding their program to Columbus, GA and will be providing many services to foster kids – including 12 week coaching services. They need coaches and I am a coach who 1 week prior to that conversation was given a brand new perspective of what some children endure in their young lives, wondering how I could help behond just sympathy. I think God opened my heart to receive this new opportunity.

    I can’t say what will come out of this, but I pray I never forget what I read in Stacy’s books, “Empty Chairs,” and “Faint Echos of Laugher.” http://staceydansonemptychairs.blogspot.com/

    Thanks, Terri, for being raw with us. Not everyone will be willing to go to that place.

    Love and hugs to you!

    Cathy

    • Trophydaughter says:

      Wow, Cathy! I visited Stacy’s blog and now I have to read her books. How can this happen in America – the home of the free and the brave? What is going on with our society? I’m so glad you are getting involved with these kids. You will be an awesome coach for them. I know you breathed support and encouragement into my life at a time when I so desperately needed it and you still do. I’m counting down the weeks until I see you!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Can’t wait for our trip. I was thinking about it earlier this morning. So thankful we are staying connected.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s difficult to see all the suffering in this world and realize how inadequate we are in trying to fix it. But God doesn’t ask us to change the world….just change our little corner. You are doing that with your sister. What would be the result if each of us just focused on changing our little corner of the world instead of throwing up our hands in despair?

    • Thanks for that, Anonymous. At times I’m overwhelmed with the brokenness in this world. And how hard it is – for me, it’s mostly emotional but for so many others, it’s a day-to-day struggle just to physically survive. But you are right. I am only responsible for what God gives me. I needed to hear that.


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