I'd like to tell you a story...

11:04 AM / Posted by Peter Lemonjello / comments (0)

When I was on my mission in Argentina I could not have been happier or stronger. En route to my first area our bus tipped over in a wind storm about thirty miles outside the town in the middle of January, the hottest month of the year with 100% humidity and temperatures reaching as high as 118*. We arrived in the area the next day, exhausted and dehydrated, with no apartment to go to and no church meetinghouse in sight. Fatigued, we laid down on benches in the central plaza and slept til the following morning. We did that for two weeks with no money, food, or any way to communicate with our leaders. We were a 24 hour drive from the mission home and it seemed no one was missing us. We ate out of dumpsters and drank from muddy puddles in the dirt roads. But we never gave up hope. We walked the streets with our heads held high knowing that the Lord would provide, and He did. We passed by a home and heard a woman shout in surprise and shock, "Elderes". She gave us food and water and let us bathe while she washed our tattered clothes by hand. We eventually communicated with the mission president and our leaders promptly found us housing and beds. I had already learned some of the hardest lessons the mission and life had to offer. After that...I had learned the language perfectly in a matter of weeks. I had two baptisms my first month in the field. I had the most amazing, strong-spirited trainer in the history of missionaries. Then suddenly and tragically, his mother passed away and he was sent home to grieve. I never heard from him again, sadly. But life had to go on in the work of the church. So I was sent two new companions. Two, recently punished, disobedient missionaries who had only months left in their missions were relocated from Buenos Aires Norte mission to be my junior companions after I had only been out for two and a half months. What a challenge. I will skip all the details and just get to the facts. One missionary, an American, decided to step it up and actually make something of himself in those last few months and tracted and taught like a seasoned champion. He was transferred two weeks later to another area, and I was left with my other companion, a native Argentine. I'll skip the details here as well, mostly because I don't care to remember them. This Elder always found ways to stay home, do nothing if I ever managed to force him to work, and eventually start stealing fast offerings and tithing to be able to buy himself a portable DVD player. All the while, the branch president was stealing a bit of tithing, fast offerings, and church supplies and convincing the majority of the members that he was told by God to form La Comunidad De Cristo and run it from his home. I said nothing of the Elder's crimes as he would have punishment enough in the guilt he felt, but I urged the mission president to look into the matter with the branch president. He didn't believe that a "man of God" could do such a thing and that I must have been mistaken. However, after several pleas from me and my zone leaders the mission president sent one of his councilors, a native and local of the mission area, to investigate. They spoke for only ten minutes privately as my companion and I listened, waiting outside the office. They laughed and hugged and laughed some more. The councilor left with nothing to report back to the president. I was punished and sent to another area and forever gained a bad reputation in the area and the mission. Months later, missionaries reported that literally no one showed up for meetings, they were found worshipping in the now former branch president's home. The area was closed and I was never vindicated.

I arrived in my new area, where my companion did not say a word to me for two weeks, literally not a word. I was becoming rather disheartened at this point. Later, through intimidation, I forced a few words from companion who said that he had heard of my reputation and didn't want me blabbing to the mission president about his exploits with his last companion. They never worked a day in the three transfers they had been been in the area. I said that what he did with his time before me was his business and that we should just get to work. So we did. He walked several hundred feet behind me at a snail's pace most of the time. He never said a word beyond hello and his name to people I greeted. He didn't perform any of the ordinances at church and never taught any lessons or gave any talks. Eventually he stopped leaving the house altogether. So I decided to start leaving and teaching on my own. (I know that sounds horrible, but I was pretty worn down at this point.) Over the course of three months I had taught literally every single individual in that small city. I only had one baptism during that time but I could not have been more pleased at the work that was being done. I caught a glimmer of hope when around that time my companion came to church with me and bore his testimony to the members. I knew I should have gone to the mission president earlier, but I didn't for two reasons: I didn't think he would believe me and I hoped that at some point my companion would come to his senses. He did. He tearfully said what was in his heart and how sorry he was that he wasn't doing what he was called to do. He later made some confessions to me that I will not share.  We cried for a few minutes as we shared this moment of tender mercy from the Father. He never did end up actually working with me more than just greeting people as I did, but it was good to have him by my side again. A week or so later we had transfers, and he was sent off to the hottest and most difficult part of the mission with an Elder that came to the mission a transfer after I did. I met my new companion and the next day we got to work. This Elder wanted to work. He loved to work. He was amazed at how every single family in the town let us into their homes. I told him of my experience there with my last companion and how the work had to move forward.  We didn't have any more baptism during that, my last transfer in the area. After I was transferred to another area I learned that this Elder had fallen into a deep depression and stopped working altogether in the area with his new companion.

I was transferred to a large city in Corrientes Capital after that. I was made a senior companion in the last area and would continue to be one here. However, my new companion was a recent arrival. He had just finished his last transfer with his trainer. I know that sounds like a great opportunity, but it really wasn't. It is extremely difficult to break the trainee's illusion of their trainer's perfection. I hated this guy. Everything I did was wrong. He was constantly criticizing, condescending, and complaining. He didn't think I was up to the task. He later told me of the rumors he had heard about me in my other areas; that I never worked, that I was involved in relationships with women in the area, etc.  I lost it. I flew off the handle yelling at him, telling him he no idea.  He really didn't have any idea what I had been through, and wasn't going to tell him. I was tired. I was exhausted. So, to my shame, I stopped working. I just let him take the reigns and teach away. I would occasionally help with a testimony or two, or a nice scripture to share, but I had mostly given up. We fought...a lot, and to this day I still feel ashamed at how I treated him. About two weeks after the beginning of our second transfer our district leaders showed up at our door saying that the mission president wanted to meet with me us in the mission home. So we took a ride across the river to Resistencia. I had no idea what we were in for as my companion's face showed that he had no idea either. As we arrived, my companion was called in first. After about a half an hour he came out of  the president's office with a grim look in his face and without saying a word rushed downstairs to the main office. Just before I was called in I saw my old companion from my second area, the one who didn't speak to me for two weeks, sitting in another empty office with tears streaking down his face. President called me into his office and he spoke I'm a very serious and official tone to me. He had asked me several blunt and strange questions about my behavior over the time of my mission and about that of my old companion. I told him what I stated earlier, that it was none of my business and that I believed that the work had to go on. He then told me of the things my old companion had confessed to and that for them he wished to be sent home. He said the this Elder had been involved in alcohol use, fornication, and leaving the mission area among other things.  This mission president seemed it think I was involved. I got rather upset but tried to keep my cool. I told him of the things I had experienced and told him he could do what he wanted with the information. After another few hours we were sent back to our area to work away. I apologized to my companion and promised him I would try harder to do my duty. He was patient with me, for which I very grateful. We had a baptism right before he was transferred out to another area. We didn't part as friends or enemies. But we sure had learned a lot from one another. I received another brand new missionary, and though my heart wasn't entirely in it we worked all day every day. We didn't have any baptisms, but we had some great experiences. He was a great kid. Midway thorough out transfer together we were asked to meet with the mission president along with his councilor that I met in my first area, who clearly had a very low opinion of me. They told me that after reviewing all the information and after much "prayer" they decided to put me on probation. I was lowered to a junior companion and told I had to prove myself. I was so angry and hurt I didn't know whether to cry or to scream. I accepted the probation as being sent home old ultimately shame my family. The rest of the transfer was rather difficult. I was numb. I couldn't believe after all that I had done that this was happening to me. My reputation was destroyed and rumors abounded that I was using drugs and having sex in every area. I was later transferred to another area at the end of our transfer together.

I arrived in Resistencia and had terminated my probationary period. I was made a senior companion again and lived in a house with another companionship. I met my amazing companion, a Peruvian that was about two feet shorter than me. I learned a lot with him. We had moderate success in the area and gained a great reputation with the ward and the community. We also had a lot of fun together. We did service, did activities with the members of the ward. We were loving it there. But both he and I were suffering from my still tattered reputation within the missionary community we were laughed at and whispered about at every conference. Our interviews with president were always the 'talk of the town'. It was exhausting. Those rumors began to reach our members, our investigators, our friends.

We finished our time together, and I received a new companion and was made district leader.  My old district leader was still in the same area and had been lowered, which we both knew meant that he was going to transferred next transfer and would need to help train me up a bit. But it certainly didn't help our friendship. Our companionships stopped having meals and prayer together. We stopped sitting together in church meetings. It was a tough period in our missions. Eventually it got much better and we became good friends again, but our companions had become lazy at this point. Neither of them wanted to work anymore. I think that we were so focused on fixing the district that we forgot about our own companionships. Work became difficult. The days became long and unfruitful. When we did exchanges within the district nothing would get done as they just wanted to sit around. That wore on me. I lost patience and hope. I realized that the Lord was giving me a taste of my own medicine. So I trudged on. And in true fashion, right as I fight through another trial, weakened from the battle, I was transferred to another area with a missionary who was fresh off his time with a trainer.

Once again I could do nothing right. All my actions and motives were questioned. My integrity was questioned at every turn as he had heard of my reputation, which by now seemed as dark as night. We struggled to have a good companionship for a month and finally achieved it. We baptized an entire family. It took all the strength of spirit I had left to gain that victory.  We gained respect for each other ad he began to discover the truth about me and my character. But by that time I was so worn down with all the crap and being three months away from the end of my mission that I was done. I had punched my time card.

At the end of our time together he was transferred out, and I received a new companion, a Columbian. He didn't care about my reputation, which was refreshing. He said he knew what I was like and had been looking forward to working with me. We had moderate success, but both he and I knew I was done. We lived outside of out area and had a two and a half hour walk both ways every day. In Argentina they have a siesta period from around noon to four in the afternoon, where rather than walk home and back again we just sat under the trees and talked about anything and everything. He always asked me to share my experiences in the mission. We laughed, cried, and sighed quote a bit during those times. I had suffered a lot and made others to suffer as much if not more. He would always tell me that later in life all these experiences would be my strength, and I would tell him I thought he was a liar. At that, we would just laugh and change the subject. I loved that companion. He is a good man. They all were, but he saw me for who I was when I needed it most. We ended our time together. I said goodbye to my Argentine family and made my way to the mission home. My greeting from president was cold at best, but I didn't care. I just wanted to be home. I got on the plane and instantly fell into a deep, well deserved and much needed sleep.

I had a dream on my voyage home. I saw my younger self. I was popular! Everyone loved me and held me in high esteem. I was unburdened and mostly carefree. I saw all the fun things I did with my family and friends, with the ward and the stake, at EFY, the MTC. All if those things were waiting for me back in Arizona, but my parents had moved to Reno, Nevada and that's where I was flying to. I was going to do everything I could to get back to my old life. What an idiot. Apparently while I was away the world just kept spinning. I came back to a great place with great people, but it was a different place with different people. They had all moved on. I went through some tough times during that year back in Arizona. I was humiliated, ridiculed, and eventually ostracized. I left my favorite job and favorite people and felt so alone and hated. I became very depressed and eventually just picked up my things and headed to Idaho, where my parents had just moved. On my way my I had asked my oldest brother if I could stay at his place for a night or two on my way home. He offered instead a place to live with he and his family until I could find a job and an apartment. I accepted, thinking that it would make me happy. But my problems were more deeply rooted than to be able to fix them with quality time. Don't get me wrong, my brother and his family are amazing and I love them very much, but trying to fix my depression with that was like trying to cure cancer with ibuprofen.

I eventually found a job and place to live. I worked and played a lot. I tried to normalize my life and felt like I was getting there. But I still felt my past and that nagging depression dragging me down. I went through a few jobs and relocated to Orem, where I moved in with three amazing guys. I owe a lot to them. It was there where my problems reached a crescendo. In my loneliness and misery I committed a crime. No one but me was hurt, but this crime was grave and would forever alter my fate. I was at a horrible job where I was wrongfully mistreated feeling miserable as I closed up the store when I got a call that two men were at the house that wanted to talk to me. My landlord/roommate assured me that I had nothing to worry about. But I knew better. It broke my heart to hear him say that. He trusted me so much that he swore up and down they had the wrong guy. I arrived and escorted the men to my room to speak privately. I told them what they needed to know and sent them on their way. That was one of the worst nights of my life. I wept for hours. I finally told my roommates what I have done and they surprised me with their reactions. While they may have been in shock, they all accepted me as a human being. They allowed me stay in the home as long as I needed. The landlord even found ways to try and help me get better. They were accepting and loving to me and still are to this day. They are three of the greatest men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. After about five months, some officers showed up at my door. I was placed under arrest and incarcerated for four months. I won't describe my feelings and experiences there for several reasons. However, I learned a great many things during those four months.

I was released in January and placed on three years probation. During that time I enrolled in an LDS treatment program for sexual addiction recovery. I was given a place to live by a great friend who despite all her own emotional issues was an anchor for me. I met a young woman who I instantly knew I was going to marry. I found a job I love to hate with a great friend from my past. I gained some sense of hope and normalcy in my life that I honestly never thought I would have and the world thought I SHOULDN'T have. I have since completed the therapy program successfully, I finished my probation time without incident and was give an extension in time to pay off the fines and fees to the court. I was made a foreman at my job after only four months. I gained a small sense of self and freedom at last. Which brings me to the point of this rather long and depressing story.

Because of what I've done I was incarcerated, but I was released as the court and the state wanted to give me the chance to regain my full freedom and live a healthy, productive life. I've complied with all the rules and restrictions without complaining...much. I've learned how to change my thinking, not just my actions. I've gained empathy and understanding so as not to fall back into unhealthy cycles. I've become regularly medicated for bipolar disorder. I've gained healthy, lasting relationships. Yet this stain is something of a scarlet letter that I will carry all my life now; not just personally but publicly. The results of having this scarlet letter caused my fiancé so much fear and sorrow that we called off our wedding and went our separate ways because she feared what it would mean for the future of our lives together. The property I live in has been sold to a property developer to make way for condos so obviously I am having to move. Every place at which I inquire does not take "people like me", the lowest of the low, the worst of the worst. So now I face being homeless in the state with the highest population of members of the most charitable church in history, because they refuse to see past my scarlet letter, despite all the evidence of rehabilitation.

My point in saying this is not to ask for pity or even forgiveness or even to make excuses. I made my choices while being influenced by both the light and the darkness. My point is to ask that at what point we stopped living what we are teaching. I don't want to sound like a hypocrite. I've done wrongs in my life...obviously. I just thought...hoped...that there would be one decent soul on this planet who could say, "I'll give you a shot. Come on in from the cold."

Maybe I don't deserve that chance. Maybe I don't deserve love or pity or forgiveness from man or God. At times I wish that they just executed people like me rather than sending us out to ultimately be hated and rejected. What kind of a life is this to live without hope of ever being able to love and be loved, to have a family and watch them grow, to work until my last breath, and to work out my salvation on this earth so as to be able to embrace my Savior without shame? I don't know anymore. I feel like I'm on that park bench again. Only this time I have no evidence of God's love, or that of man either, beyond the love of parents who weep for their baby boy that they are helpless to save.

My final point is to urge all to find charity, learn empathy, gain understanding, and be humble. There are good people on this earth who ARE deserving of love and compassion. I hope that if that opportunity finds you, that you will not turn it away. There may be no recourse for me, but there will always be someone who is praying for someone like you.


Stand ye in Holy...uh...erm...whatever

9:39 PM / Posted by Peter Lemonjello / comments (0)

This came to me tonight while watching the Priesthood Session of Conference. I've been noticing some changes in myself that I'm not taking much of a liking to, and I know it stems from influences at work. Not that I blame them. I know it's my choice. So here we go. In this world ever filled with sin and iniquity it is almost impossible to "stand in holy places". I see that as society becomes more and more accepting of or indifferent toward unhealthy and unholy practices and principles that the ability to simply "avoid" unholy places or situations is almost completely diminished. How is it that we have allowed this to happen? The truth is that it was going to happen no matter what we did. The choices that are before us now are if we will simply let it happen by turning a blind eye, not only allow to happen but support these practices and principles, fight the people and organizations that put these principles into practice, or realize that we cannot change the choices and wills of others and not "allow" but leave the world to continue down the paths that it has chosen. The days are past when we could simply move on and avoid the wickedness of the world. The only choice we have now is what to do to make ourselves strong in will and spirit to continue to be the people we want and strive to be. We cannot allow that these environments and principles and ideals to influence us and change our focus and change our person. Almost every day for the last year I have found myself in such a negative and poisonous environment at work. I started out with so much strength of character and will. I thought that no matter what I was going to continue to be a pillar of light in the darkness. I wasn't going to allow it to change me. How wrong I was. Every day I find myself becoming more and more bogged down, torn apart, and changed and influenced by the environment and spirit where I work. I find myself thinking that I could just escape and find another job and a better place. However, my wise father, even though he may not realize the wisdom in it, said, "Son, no matter where you go you're going to find that it's the same." I got so frustrated by that. I hate it when people tell me to simply accept things the way they are. Please don't misunderstand. I realize my responsibility and ability to influence those around me for good. I also realize that it is becoming a losing battle. I believe that the victory we seek will not be had in this life but far into the hereafter. We cannot allow the morally and ethically degrading principles and practices to compromise our integrity and change our hearts, desires, thoughts and deeds. Therefore, knowing that we can no longer remove ourselves from certain situations and environments, we must steel ourselves against such a slow, steady poison such as we are beginning to regularly see around us. Satan is pulling all the stops to ensure for him a victory against, not us, but our Heavenly Father. I believe with all my heart that God will not abandon us. I believe that he has already given us the tools and abilities to triumph in battle. He will no longer fight our battles for us. I have seen it firsthand in my own life. I have made horrible mistakes that took me completely away from Him and all things good. Yet, He gave me every chance to come fight my way back; to push through the pain and anguish and become a man He could be proud of. I lack the majority of the faith that will be required of me to bring balance to the negative choices I've made. But I know that I can no longer rely on finding another sanctuary when the night is upon me. I have to rely on His teachings and have faith in His promises to attempt to weather the storm and emerge relatively unscathed. So on that gem of a note, I guess I'll have to get back to work and slay those demons. Thanks for listening and whatnot

To err is...um...

1:44 AM / Posted by Peter Lemonjello / comments (0)

It's been a long while yet again. It seems I'm destined to bore you to death only once a year now. It's good to be back in the saddle again...again. This has been a very long and difficult road over the last few years. Yet, here I...sit...a better man. Not necessarily a good one but a better one, at least. I won't bore you with all the details, but let's just say that I've learned so much more about myself and others over these last few years that has really softened my heart and opened my eyes. I used to live in so much fear and anxiety that I felt like my life had become a lifetime movie without the sudden happy ending. I realize that in my ignorant and irrational moments in life I have hurt people, and for that I will forever be ashamed. At times I go over those moments at night in my mind thinking of how I've hurt people and lost loved ones or pushed others away. I used to obsess over those moments as if envisioning them again and again would change the outcome. I even went into therapy thinking that I would do whatever it took to make up for what I had done. It was in those sessions that I realized that we can't ever "make up for" something we have done. There is no kissing the booboo, singing it away, or whatever the disillusioned method we may have believed as kids to get rid of the hurt. It seemed that my biggest issue was that I held onto the past too tightly, so much so that it filled my life with regret and shame. The lesson I had to learn was to forgive myself of the wrongs I'd done and let them go and move forward. I learned to recognize the opportunities that I have now to have empathy, gain perspective, show compassion, and love unconditionally those who may, like me, be in need of that helping hand or soothing word. Now in previous posts I talked about my hero complex, and when I started thinking about what I had learned I thought it sounded just like that complex and that I had to start the learning process all over again. But I realized that the context is different now. Somewhere over the last few years there has been a paradigm shift toward clarity. What I have realized now is that though I can't control the choices I've already made or the consequences that followed, that I control what I do with the knowledge and perspective that I have gained now to begin to make the right choices. It's like Gandalf says, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." Three years ago I made a horrible choice that cost me dearly and many of those I hold most dear had to suffer for it. I let everyone down. And yet, my family has stuck by me and given me strength, support, insight, and a whole lot of patience throughout all of it. They ultimately taught me that the difficult process of changing my head and my heart was worth the sacrifice for them. They taught me patience, understanding, and the value and importance of unconditional love. At any rate I feel so much more confident now about facing the future. I no longer wish to be consumed by the dark cloud of hate, envy, despair, and loneliness that for so long had loomed over me. Nor do I wish for those feelings, should they ever manifest again, to take control of my heart and mind and lead me down unsafe paths again. So for now life is good, finally. I'm happy to be back in good company and to feel the warm sun on my face once more.

A Fresh Start of Sorts

8:43 AM / Posted by Peter Lemonjello / comments (0)

Bless me friends, for I have sinned. It has been over two years since my last blog. Yet, here I am after a couple of years on the road to growth, having logged quite a few miles on my journey. I've been given a second chance now, a chance to get it right. I hope that this time around things will be different. I've made a few changes of late with the hopes that I can right a few wrongs, lift a few spirits, and change some lives, including my own. So, here I am, ready for yet another adventure, ready to plunge myself into the fray. Now, buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

The Growing Dark/The Brightest Light

4:49 PM / Posted by Peter Lemonjello / comments (1)

There are a handful of people who might understand the root of this topic. My apologies to those that do not. This is not going to be a cheerful or contemplative entry. However, I do believe you will find it intriguing.

I have had very few nights in the last month and a half where I have slept more than an hour or two. I won't go into it for obvious reasons, but it is needless to say that it is wearing on me. Stresses have been many and difficult, and anxiety is through the roof. Fatigue, fear, loneliness, absolute emotional exhaustion, and anger are my constant companions down a winding path through a thick, dark mist. This is what weighs down on me every second of every day, and it is what most recently spurred a vision or dream. Whatever you want to call it, it is as follows.

The evening prior to my dream was rather difficult and put me in a rather foul mood. And even though I was able to see my favorite girl it just didn't bring me out of my funk. I wanted to break down and just let her take me and tell me I was going to be okay, but it wasn't the time for that. So I went hurriedly home to find my roommates asleep again. Seeing that no one was around, I decided to just go to bed. I said my goodnights to a few people and turned in for what I was hoping would be a long night of rest. I fell asleep around five in the morning and had to be up at eight thirty for church. As I was sleeping I heard a knock at the door. I looked out the window to see who it was. There, I saw a man in rather plain looking clothes (jeans, collared shirt, sandals). He was wearing a name tag that read Jay C. I looked to see if he had a car I might recognize, and I saw a truck that he came in that said A-Z Delivery Service on the side. I thought, "Great. A delivery man at eight in the morning on a Sunday." The odd thing about this delivery man was that he held no package in his hands. I thought nothing of it and turned back over and fell asleep again. Not seconds after I had fallen asleep, a man in a nice suit and slicked back hair rang the doorbell obnoxiously. I once again, almost unwillingly, rolled over to look out the window to see the man outside with a giant box sitting next to him. I put on some clothes and rushed down the stairs. I opened the door and greeted the man and saw that the other delivery man from before was still standing there in the driveway smiling at me. The man in the suit spoke quickly and smoothly, telling me that this package was for me and that I just needed to sign for it. I did so not really understanding his entrancing words and ups and downs in that cool, suave voice. No sooner had I signed than the man dissappeared leaving the other strange delivery man in the doorway, silent, smiling, looking more concerned than before. He took a step forward toward the door but did not enter even though the door was wide open. I waited a moment to see if he would say anything or come in. After what seemed an eternity I rudely shut the door in this man's face and hurried inside to my giant package. As I opened the large box I noticed a note on top that said, "I was thinking especially of you when I picked this out. Your friend, Lou." As I opened the box completely I was overwhelmed with a sense of despair. For the inside of the giant box was...nothing, empty. I huffed my way back up the stairs in disappointment and anger toward the man and toward myself for thinking that anyone I knew would even think of sending me a package that large. I crawled into bed, almost in tears, and tried to fall asleep. I slept for another twenty minutes or so and was awakened by another knock at the door. I looked out the window to see the first delivery truck still sitting there. Irritated, I ignored the man and rolled back over. Ten minutes this time and "knock knock" at the door. Again I turned my back to my bedroom door and fell asleep. Then, silence. After a few more minutes I woke up and realized that I was already late for church. I was frustrated and angry still from the morning's events and that empty package. I sat at the edge of my bed trying to decide if I should get ready for church or just pack it in for the day. After all, I had a really rough night and could feel this negative energy that just seemed to feed my bad mood from the last twenty-four hours. I decided to get up and go to church. I showered and was burned by the water. I couldn't seem to get it any colder. Hurt, confused, and more frustrated I stepped out of the shower and got dressed. The pain seemed to increase the closer I got to being ready. As I headed down the stairs I slipped and rolled my already destroyed ankle. I screamed in pain and spouted off some very nasty curse words. I got up, took some pills, and headed out the door, the frustration ever increasing within me. I got in my car and burned my hands on the steering wheel. The curse storm ensued. I said everything I knew how to say in two different languages. I was beyond frustration now. I was pissed. I made my way to church and sat down. As I entered, however, I noticed a small group of my "friends" that turned their heads toward me and began to talk and giggle about me. Their looks of amusement soon turned into sadness as I looked back with hatred and resentment in my eyes. Now I was not only angry but also upset that I had treated my peers that way. I painstakingly made it through the first meeting even though my ankle was swollen and bruised (even more than before), and the burns on my arms, back, and hands seemed to be more sensitive and painful. I hurried home to find that strange man sitting against our little tree on our small patch of grass in front of the house. I walked past him in a huff, jerked the door to the house open, and slammed it as hard as I could. I had had enough. I broke down in tears; tears of humiliation, disgust, frustration and anger. I hobbled up the stairs and layed in my bed, sobbing the entire time. What had I done to deserve this? Then, I realized why my day went so horribly. The package! I ran downstairs, ignoring my ankle, and saw the once large box on the floor, only now it was the size of a shoe box. I opened it, apprehensively this time, and found another note at the bottom. It was a list of the contents of the package I had received that morning. On the list were some rather familiar things: Pain, suffering, sorrow, despair, hopelesness, loneliness, anger, hatred, lust, envy, jealousy, rage...The list seemed to go on forever. I understood it now. I had allowed these things into my home, into my heart. I felt even worse than before. I moped up the stairs, angry at myself now for being so stupid. I suddenly felt so overwhelmed by the feelings listed in the package that I began to cry...again. I sat down on my bed and looked out the window and through wet eyes I saw the first delivery man standing there still. He still had a smile on his face, but he had large streaks of tears running down his cheeks. I felt guilty and angry at myself for being so rude to him. I knew why I didn't go to him before, why I didn't allow him into my home. I didn't see anything of worth in his arms as I did the other delivery man. I saw no large package with bows and notes wrapped in his arms. I saw a man with nothing to offer me. I sobbed even harder. I could feel the darkness growing stronger, my hatred, my sorrow, worsening. Then, I heard a knock at the door. In anger I ran down the stairs and wrenched the door open to find the man standing there with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes. I didn't understand. I was angry and frustrated, and I hated everything about myself and the life I had been given. In all our interactions that morning not one word was spoken between the first delivery man and me. So I asked him, finally, "What do you want?!?!" With tears in his eyes he raised his arms and asked, "Will you let me in?" I was taken aback. His voice was so rough, yet it sounded so comforting. I couldn't help it. I was staring. After a long silence I opened the door a little more and unaware of anything else I let him into my home. Astonished still by the roughness of this man's voice, I followed him into the living room where we both took our seats. I offered the man some water (he had been sitting outside in the heat all day, after all). As I handed him the glass of water I felt his hands, coarse, rough, hardened from years of work. No words were spoken, so I piped up. I asked him if he had a package for me. He put the glass down and opened his hands up to me with his palms up. I looked at them, confused, and was about to ask what he meant when I saw them. There were marks in his hands as if someone had put a hole in them. I saw his wrists, marks. Confused and astonished, I searched his face, that leathery face, for some clue as to what he meant. As I looked a little closer I could see that same smile on his face and those tears still in his eyes. What I saw in his eyes I could never describe in more than a few words. It was me. I saw myself through the tears in his eyes and I began to see not with my eyes but with my heart who he truly was. I saw my Savior sitting in front of me. Through sobs and tears, I exploded with apologies and told him of my shame. I could no longer look him in the eyes, those sweet, deep, clear eyes. I knelt at his feet and begged for forgiveness. I not only felt ashamed, but I felt unworthy of having Him in my home. Why had He waited so long to come in, to tell me who He was? He knelt down and picked me up and held me in His arms, and as if He had read my mind He spoke. "I could not enter on my own but upon your invitation." I felt so relieved as He held me, my Brother, my best friend. He told me of the love He had for me and that He knew of my love for Him. He recounted how He had felt the things I had felt not hours ago. He told of how He understood and wanted to help if only I would ask. Stunned, and feeling totally helpless and at a loss I nodded my head. He gave me one last embrace and walked over to the box on the floor. He closed the top and picked it up. He told me to keep hope in my heart despite the ever growing darkness inside of me. I nodded. There was nothing I could say. I couldn't speak even if I tried. And in an instant He was gone and the box with Him. I felt overwhelmed but not as I had felt before. I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and at the same time a sense of unworthiness. Just as I had asked myself in my despair what I had done to deserve that, so I felt about this gift I had received. What had I done to deserve such love, such comfort, such relief?

You know it's funny. I called this a dream, but it was so real to me. I wasn't asleep when I experienced these things. I was awake and though many parts didn't actually take place, they symbolize what I went through today and the choices I made. I really was late for church. I really did burn myself in the shower and in my car. I really did hurt my ankle even worse. I really did feel the things I felt that came from the package. And I really did have a conversation with my elder Brother. It's hard to explain. But, know this. We all have bad days...hell, I'm still having one. But He has already paid the price. We just have to decide who we will let in our home and why. Will it be out of greed that we allow Lou and his suited friend into our home, because he had a grand gift for us? Something we could see and touch? Or...Will we allow the lowly, smiling, and rather persistent man into our home? Free of a tangible and visible gift? I made the wrong choice. I suggest you make the right one.

At any rate, I am not trying to give advice, because anyone that knows me knows that I am not in the position to do so. I feel like I've been sobbing all day and still feel really down. But I at least have a taste for what good there is inside of me still and His willingness to take the bad away. I suggest that you let Him.

I love you all. I don't know what good is left inside me or what strength, but I promise to strive to be a better man, a better son, a better brother, a better uncle, and a better friend. I leave you today with a portion of one of my favorite songs which has been stuck in my head and heart for days now.

"Lay down your sweet and weary head. Night is falling. You have come to journey's end. Sleep now, and dream of the ones who came before. They are calling from across the distant shore. Why do you weep? What are these tears upon your face? Soon you will see all of your fears will pass away. Safe, in my arms, you're only sleeping. What can you see on the horizon? Why do the white gulls call? Across the sea a pale moon rises. The ships have come to carry you home. And all will turn to silver glass. A light on the water all souls pass into the west."

Til next time. Stay tuned...

Expendable

3:40 PM / Posted by Peter Lemonjello / comments (0)

That's a good title for this post. Expendability. That is the feeling I have had for some time and one of my deepest fears in life. I fear that one day I will be labeled as expendable by those closest to me.

As the title of the blog suggests (A Knight's Tale), I have what some people inaccurately call a hero complex. I like to look at it as an ability to love. I happen to believe that love is a verb and not a noun, not as a feeling but as an action. It is not only felt but more importantly expressed through action, devotion, compromise, and sacrifice. Therefore, if that is the definition of a hero complex then I am happy to oblige. However, I have felt most recently that I have run my course with those closest to me. I feel like it is time to hang up the cape, to put away the armor. As I have strived to help those around me I have lost that innate ability to reach people when no one esle can, to help other people when others cannot in situations that no one seems to understand. As one with a "hero complex" it is the worst feeling and the lowest to feel and especially realize that you are no longer needed, that your abilities have diminished. I have felt this way increasingly over the last few years. My signal is no longer being lit in the sky to call for the aide that is so desperately needed. I have been ousted from the lineup. I have been pushed far from the hearts of those that until recently called on the one they knew would be there.

As I have seen those that once before called my name in their darkest moments slip away and confront the world alone, I feel helpless, unable to reach out and make my presence known. However, through all of that I have realized that the reason I am no longer needed is not because I am not wanted but mostly that I am no longer that source of strength. As afraid as I am to let go of those I love to face the world and her many trials and hardships, I am comforted to see the strength that is manifest in their expressions, the conviction and fearlessness in their eyes. And it is only then that I am able to see past the feeble humanity that we all carry and see a brave soul, fearless and strong.

As I was having these feelings and certain realizations I also began to discover something even more comforting. My greatest worry for people is that they might feel alone and afraid. So mostly I guess that though I will have to hang up the cape and retire that armor, I at least wanted them to know that I am willing and able to be that source of strength still. However, my realization is this: That though I may not be able to serve as I once did, that those who really trust in me will never feel alone and afraid simply because of the comforting thought that I am not too far away. And though it is difficult for me to realize that even "heroes" need help sometimes, I have come to rely on one man to make up the difference, to be my caped crusader, my armored knight, and my source of constant strength and comfort. And it has made all the difference knowing that He is there.

I realize that this sounds a bit whiney and odd to some, but you would have to know me deeply to understand my desire to do good in the world, to protect the vulnerable, to comfort the burdened and weary. And, though I may not be very good at it I have devoted much of my time and all of my love to those who I hold in my heart. That will never change. My ability to sweep in and fix the situation may be diminished, but my ability to love unconditionally has increased one hundred fold.

An experience I just had through a very special friend taught me that unconditional love is essential to the human experience. I had been so angry for so long that I had forgotten how much I loved her and that no matter what happened or would happen I would always be able to give of that love. I was blinded by my pride and frustration that I could not see past myself and I failed her. Even in the aftermath of the event I have hated myself for forgetting. I let this friend down when I was needed the most. So out of all that has happened and all that I have expressed I have the resolve that I will always be ready and that I will never forget the love I feel for those who I hold closest to my heart. It was sad that such a grand experience had to happen to make me realize it, but now that I know it, I cannot falter.

It's funny how I need those big eye-openers to happen in order for me to get the message. It is as if someone is screaming it in my ear and cramming the feeling into my heart, but I hear nothing and ignore the feeling. It is easy to forget others and move on with our lives without so much as another thought. I personally have so many stresses and overwhelming issues that I have forgotten some of the greatest things about my life: friends, family, etc. Well, recently I had an enlightening conversation with my friend Laura. She reminded me of a very humbling fact. She said, quoting the title of a talk, "Life is a series of a thousand miracles." As I pondered that phrase I began to realize that it holds true in every way. The more I focused on the negative overwhelming issues and problems that life, especially my life, has offered I realized the importance of recognizing the small miracles that happen every day.

Well, this experience with my dear friend and how I felt I let her down has not only made my conviction to love unconditionally stronger but also my reslolution to look at the miracles of everyday. I have an amazing family who I love more deeply than I could ever express and with whom I share a deep and unbreakable bond. I have wonderful friends who put up with my insanity, who try their hardest to love a weak being, and for whom I would give my life. So as I ponder the miracles of my life I can't help but think what a miracle it is to have this friend here now, not to protect and rescue, but to just be there through the bad times and the good ones too. She is my miracle. And I am grateful for her and for that sobering and humbling fact.

In conclusion. The cape is hung up, the armor retired, but my heart is full and open to the opportunities that the future has in store. All I have to do is remember my miracle and the many miracles to follow.

Stay tuned...I'm back and running at full capacity!

Insight? I think NOT!!!

8:50 AM / Posted by Peter Lemonjello / comments (0)

I have nothing clever to say today. I just want to get some things off my freakin' chest. You know, a blog is a great thing? When I type all this crap in here I get no response, no rebuttal, and no back-talk from it. It's like the greatest friend ever.


On to business. I am exhausted. I only work twenty-two hours a week. Some of you might be thinking, "Oh, that's not that much...how are you exhausted you big cry-baby?" First: You can suck my big fat toe. The right one. Second: If you know me at all, then you will understand. I would rather be working than not. I blame my dad for it. I have tried to enjoy time off and lazy days, but they hold no savor for me. It's the days I don't work that just end up kickin' my butt. It takes more energy to just sit and do nothing whilst doing something than it does for me to perform a full day's portion of labor: Preferably twelve to eighteen hours.

The Lawn? I find myself wanting to mow the lawn. Two reasons this is a failed attempt at finding something to occupy my time: The first: We don't have a lawn mower. We have "people" for that. The second: Our lawn is so small I could literally cut it faster with a pair of children's safety scissors than I could with a mower and trimmer. Yes. Safety scissors.

The Dishes? One can only do the dishes so many times during a twenty-four hour period. I will intentionally use as many dishes as possible on my days off just so I can do the dishes again.

House Cleaning? Tried it...I keep my room spotless aside from the day's dust post-cleaning. The rest of the house is pretty much the same way. I am very obsessive-compulsive. I am constantly straightening the pictures on the wall in the living room. I actually have decided that it is a frivolous effort as it seems the wall has a bit of a bow in it. I straighten and alphabetize my blu-rays a lot. I do a lot of laundry...A LOT of laundry. I am running shoes and bags and wallets and phones and and and....all sorts of stuff to rooms and closets and such all day and it still doesn't fill the void. (That's what she said.) (That was for Ashlee.)

Television, Movies, Games? Please! TV: Boring. Movies: Seen 'em dozens of times. Games: How many times do I have to pass a game before it becomes boring? I can only watch TV and movies and play games so much before I find myself in danger of having a small heart attack each time I get off the couch to get more fatty, nasty fast food. My motto: If you can't see your toes, somethin's gotta go. (Yes...I did just make that up. So my bit about not saying anything clever just went right out the window like a fart in the wind. Oops. That's two.)

Friends? I have no friends with which to "hang out". I consider myself a fun-loving guy full of laughs and joy. I must be the only one. The few "friends" I have cause me to have ulcers where before sat a perfectly disgusting, but wonderfully whole, stomach lining. I can't keep up with their issues and whiplashing roller coaster emotions. Granted...I am a nut-case....but still. So, hanging out with my "friends" is pretty much another futile attempt at filling the time. It is quite the opposite of filling the time. It's part of my exhaustion.

School? I wish. That one is my fault. I have this wall of excuses and fear that I like to call "My reason for not going to school" that I hide behind. If I had school then I could justify still working at a place that only allows me to work twenty-two hours a week and causes me emotional and mental pain. My mind is like that of Robert Downey Jr.'s character Sherlock Holmes, "Give me problems. Give me work." My mind was meant to solve and calculate and create. When it isn't trying to do such things, it races and in turn exhausts me more than if I had just spent twelve straight hours doing homework for classes that I will inevitably pass with ease.

I'm extremely depressed. That's as far as I am willing to go with that one. If not then this will turn into exactly what I did not want it to be turning in to: a diary. If you have any questions, please refer back to what you just read in the previous word body and read on.

I wake up everyday and follow a strict yet simple routine. I open my eyes after a wonderful fourty-five minute's rest I like to call "fourty-five minutes of sleep I get every night" and roll out of bed. I stretch and enjoy the sight of my not-often-seen feet, and then I begin my regimen of pain the I call "moving". I lift my fat arse from my bed and check my phone for messages and my computer for email. I then grab my towel and head toward the bathroom for a morning session of "The Jeffersons: Oh Demoted Ones" and my shower. As I step out of the shower I utter my daily phrase, "Dang it, Jared" after stepping into the remnants of his shower: A nice puddle of FREEZING COLD WATER!!! Then I get dressed in my usual attire of jeans and a striped polo shirt and spray on a little liquid lady killer. Then I put on my mask. This isn't just any mask. It is a mask of invisibility, for it completely hides that which is bubbling on the surface and is a raging fire deep within. I put on a smile. I let everyone know I'm okay. If I'm not okay, it effects anyone that is close to me. (That's very few people in case you were wondering.) I am obliged to put on a face of "happy". The sad part is not that I wear the mask, but that I do it mostly just to avoid the annoying questions of "What's wrong?" and "Are you alright?" and that statement of "I know something's wrong. Tell me." And the worst part of all of that is that when I don't say anything or I say that everything is fine or even say that I don't want to talk about it right now then I am the bad guy and people get mad at me. Well that certainly makes sense. ??? So I wear the mask day to day, hoping that it will just fuse with my actual face and I don't have to worry about it falling off and showing my true hideous face of shame. It is a full-time job trying to keep my friends from getting upset with me because I am not running at full capacity of fun-ness. This is the most tiring job of all. It is one that takes concentration, stamina, heart, and a lot of insanity.

All in all, I hope you understand that I understand and know that life is not only challenging but just down right tough. I get it. I live it. So if life itself is so tiring, why do we make it hard not only for other people but for ourselves as well. Something to think about.

I'm going to call it a blog today. I have much more to say, but I really need a shower. Let the mind-wrapping commence. WRAP!!!