Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stop, Drop, and Pray

Shortly after Micah and I were married (in 2004) we moved to Los Angeles, California where we both sought employment in our areas of interest. Our goal in moving there was to both finish college while working at jobs we enjoyed. 
We had a hard time finding jobs at first! Micah was hoping to get his old job back at the LA Zoo, but  that didn't work out as planned. And I was having a tough time finding a job working with at-risk-youth, like I had wanted. As our first month in the big city started to unfold, we desperately needed money to pay our rent due the following month.  
After weeks of interviews and struggling to find the perfect job, I finally got hired for a youth rehabilitation program for troubled teenage girls coming out of the juvenile detention system. I was so excited to start working again, and especially for a job I knew I would like. Micah was still unemployed for the time being.

Fast forward a month later: I have locked myself in the bathroom at work and am crying on my knees, praying to God that I can get through another day of this horrible job. There's a large, terrifying black girl named Ashley banging on the bathroom door yelling at me to give her the weekly allowance she deserves or she'll punch my face off.  She's been calling me "Dingy White Bitch" all week long. In fact they all call me that-- all six of the girls that live in the transition home I work at. It hurts and it bothers me, but it's not the worst of the problems I have at this job.  I'm the only white employee working as a mentor at a transition home for inner-city black and Hispanic kids coming out of jail. The kids don't like me nor do they respect me. They break all the rules when I'm on shift. They make fun of me. They walk all over me. And I can't even begin to empathize with the horrible life situations they must have come from before they arrived here! My fellow employees aren't friendly towards me. I feel useless and vulnerable at this job. 

Ashley's threats are starting to scare me as she gets louder and more aggressive. "Open the door you Dingy white bitch! Open the effing door or I'll punch your face in." 
I say a prayer one more time, get off my knees and open the door. I smile sweetly and professionally, and try my hardest to stay calm. I also look out the window wishing desperately that my co-staff is on her way up the doorstep. She's also a large black woman, and she knows how to handle these girls. One quick word from her and they'll be back to the expected, acceptable behavior. But she's not here, yet. 
"Now Ashley," I say, "You know you can't have your weekly allowance until you finish your chores and clean your room. This money is for after dinner when we take you to the dollar store."
"Shut the eff up you Dingy White Bitch," she yells so close to my face, I can smell her flaming-hot cheetoh breath enter my pores. She continues, "My supervisor said I could have the effing money now, so hand it the eff over!"
I want to cry. I want to open the front door and run away from there. I want to tell this young fifteen year old girl  that her life will amount to nothing if she keeps playing these  stupid games. 
The games and lies and excuses never seem to end at this transition home, and in these girl's lives. There's always a problem, and it always seems to be my fault (or anyone else's) that needs to fix it. 
Right when I think she's going to let me have it, my co-staff, Veeona, pulls in the front driveway. Ashley goes and sits on the couch with the other girls watching TV, acting like nothing ever happened. She smiles as Veeona walks in the door. I smile and pretend I'm a hard-ass mentor for inner-city bad kids who's tough behavior and threats don't bother me a bit. 
When my shift is finally over I get in my car and cry all the way home. 
But I made it! I made it another day, and a paycheck to pay the rent. Micah was hired at an animal clinic the next day, so I quit that horrible job and never looked back. 
However, years later, as I reflect back on that experience, it was here that I learned to stop, drop, and pray whenever I was in a stabbing situation. I would stop what I was doing, find somewhere to drop to my knees (usually the bathroom) and pray with all my heart that God would protect me and help me to get through another day, another hour, or another minute of this job. It was that bad. Maybe even worse than the Flash Flood experience, but I'm not sure--they come pretty close. 
I know that the Holy Ghost was guiding me and helping me in some hard situations, as my pleading prayers were answered each day, each eight hour shift. I even found a place in my heart to pray for these troubled girls who may never know a better life. 

Recently I've been applying this same principle to my current family situation, as I've been facing some pretty tough challenges over here. 
With the kid's school starting, (public, preschool, and an intensive homeschool program), and all the kids  getting the flu, and Micah starting work, and me taking care of the new baby, and trying to get organized, and making meals, and trying to get enough sleep, and keeping the house sanitary, and me getting mastitis, I just about lost my mind. Seriously. I started having the worst anxiety I've had in years, and felt like I wanted to cry, non-stop. Or open the front door and run far away.....
I can't even dare to compare my wonderful  life as a mommy to working at that job, but I do know that when I feel so overwhelmed that I want to cry and run away, it's time to stop. drop. and pray. 
So I did. Wherever and whenever I could. 
And I could totally feel the spirit guide me, and the inspiration fill me, and the anxiety melt away, as I figured out how to conquer each challenge that came my way.

Anyways, these are my thoughts today. Pray, pray, pray. I don't have much time to blog these days, but I found a little window of time to share these thoughts from my heart. 

Yours Truly,
Dingy White Bitch


Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing Sally. That job sounds pretty awful. I think it is underestimated how difficult it is to be a stay at home Mama, its really hard at the exact same time as being really wonderful. I can't do anything physically to help you being so far away, but I can pray for you dearest Sister and I will. Valerie xxx

Sally Jackson said...

Thank you so much Valerie. I'm so glad you found my blog and we can connect! You sound like a genuinely wonderful person with your sweet comments. And congratulations on joining the church. (Is that the right thing to say? lol) It's wonderful to be part of a worldwide sisterhood. :)

The Estrogen Files said...

Love how you look at things. I wish I could save people from what makes them hurt.

Unknown said...

Sally Wally my sweet & amazing daughter. Again I find out about things after the facts & it pains me to know of the difficulties. I knew of that job & that it was hard & stressful but had no idea how much. Then fast forward to now & I wish to heck I could just move next door & give you a hand all the time & not just those two drop in the bucket times I did come to help briefly in the summer. Hmm. Something to think about. These are great & true words you have written & my prayers go with you too. Love you to bits!!!

Molly Knight said...

I have found myself kneeling on many a cold bathroom floor!