A Difficult Day

Despair. Starvation. And the voices telling him “you’re no good” and “no one likes you” and “you’ll never fit in with everyone else, they’ll always hate you.” The thoughts of worthlessness and rejection were the worst – worse than the gnawing nausea in his stomach.

Every evening as he drifted off to sleep he thought to himself “tomorrow, I go home” and every morning as he awoke he heard the still, small voice driving him to stay another day in the wilderness. Another day of hunger, heat, and despair.

One morning the voices took corporeal form. He woke to find a suavely creepy man staring at him, obviously watching him as he slept. The first thing he saw was the creep’s smile – a smile that was somehow simultaneously shy and malevolent.

“Well, good morning sleepy head. Hungry much?” An almost uncontrollable urge to eat anything – rocks, bugs, the creep’s eyes – rushed over him. Weakly he rolled off his back and up onto his knees. Looking down at the dust he simply said, “there are a lot of hungry people in the world; we’ve learned what you don’t know, that there’s more to life than just gobbling up everything you want.”

The creep smirked and changed the subject: “Let’s get down to business, shall we? You are experiencing delusions of grandeur coupled with fantasies of belonging. You are nothing, you are a bastard, your family never wanted you, your so-called friends don’t care about you, and you could die right here on this rock-strewn hill and no one would ever miss you. You know I’m right, why don’t you just admit it?”

That arrow hit home – right to the heart. Tears spilled over his cheeks and his face burned with shame. He thought to himself, “nobody loves me.” Tears struck the dust and a twisting sob wracked his body. “Nobody loves me but my mother.” The childhood memory of her praying voice in the night seemed to steady him just enough and bring him back from the edge of the emotional abyss. “Nobody loves me but my mother – and she could be jivin’ too” he whispered quietly as his tears faded to a soft smile.

Still on his knees, he raised his head and looked the creep in the eye. “It’s a funny thing about that – I’ve learned to find my Dad’s love leaking through every crack in the universe, even the broken places in broken people. I think I’ll just stick with what he has to say.”

“Your Dad?” the stranger hissed. “He’s not that smart, he’s just been around longer than the rest of us. If he really loved you he’d make sure nothing bad ever happened to you – but bad things keep happening, don’t they? Ergo, we must conclude that your Dad is either evil or does not exist.”

Strength surged through his body now. He stood to his full height, feet planted wide apart and firmly on the ground, and was surprised to discover that even though he was a relatively short man he towered over the creep. He laughed and shook his head, “It’s not my job to prove that faith is real, that hope will be rewarded, and that love never fails. A new day is about to dawn. You can crouch in the shadows or dance in the sunlight, but you can’t hide from love.”

The creep creeped away and some angels named Simon, James, and John came over the top of the hill, carrying food and looking for their friend. He thought they were the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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