Puke by Mark Lutz, iRise Leadership Institute

I have very few memories of Kindergarten. I remember spending each day counting. Each day we would add one number and count to it. I think we got to 100 throughout the year and then counted to 100 each day. I remember a Rudolf the Reindeer craft that we made that had a shiny metallic red nose.

My only other memory is getting sick at school one day. I told my mother in the morning that I wasn’t feeling well, but she thought I was just trying to get out of school, and put me on the bus despite my complaining. At some point during the day I threw up on my desk. I am not sure exactly what happened, but my five-year-old brain remembers it being pretty impressive.

All I can remember is the throw up pouring over all four sides of my little desk. I also remember it was really hot that day and feeling really embarrassed. So embarrassed that I felt like I had to hide my mistake. I thought I might get in trouble. Without any way of hiding what had happened I decided to just lay my head down on my desk with my hands and arms covering up as much as I could, and then acting like I was asleep.

I’m not sure why I thought being asleep at my desk would be better than throwing up on it, but that seemed like the only option at the time. I had mess all through my hair, my shirt, pants, arms, and my face. I took a disgusting situation and made it a lot more disgusting. I was sent home, and my mom felt horrible for having sent me to school that day. If I had been smarter I could have used that to my advantage during the next few years.

It’s a gross memory, but I think we can learn a few things from it.

  1. If our first cry for help doesn’t work that doesn’t mean we don’t need help. 
    My mom didn’t believe that I was sick that day. I could have told the school nurse, my teacher, or the bus driver. My mom sent me to school so I didn’t look for help after I didn’t receive it at first. At times in life we need to ask for help more then once. If we are in a dark place we may need to cry out for help over and over again. Many times over my years of working with students, I have heard them say they told someone, one time, way back when and that person didn’t believe them so they never asked for help again. Depression, rape, anxiety, abuse, and self-harm have ruled over the lives of people who haven’t ask for help more then once. If you are going through something right now and the first person you confided in failed you, then you should try again. You should keep trying until you find the help you need.
  2. We think we are better at hiding our mess than we really are. 
    I actually thought I could hide the fact that I had thrown up all over my desk. I thought if I laid down in it then people wouldn’t notice. That may seem crazy but we do the exact same thing all the time in our emotional lives. We are hurting inside and our life is a mess but we put on a smile, act like everything is ok, and try to get through the day. We think we are being really sneaky, and no one knows what’s going on behind our fake smile. But you can’t hide puke. You can’t hide the nasty things in your life as well as you think you can. People may not know exactly what is going on, but they can smell puke even if they can’t see it. The reality is that when we try to hide the puke in our lives, it always gets worse. If I had simply asked for help, I would not have had to lay my head and arms in the mess. Instead, I tried to hide it from the teacher and the other kids, and ended up with puke all through my hair. It is better to seek help and talk about what is going on rather than trying to cover it up. Talk about what is going on in your life. Even if the person that is listening couldn’t possibly understand. It is better to get through the puke with someone else than trying to do it alone.
  3. It’s not always your fault. 
    It wasn’t my fault I was sick. I couldn’t do anything about it. But when I threw up I felt responsible. I felt like I would be in trouble or that the other kids would laugh at me. When we are dealing with significant emotional pain it can seem easier to blame ourselves. Sometimes it’s because we love the person who hurt us, and we don’t want to blame them. Sometimes it’s because there is no one to blame, and it’s really hard to process our pain without someone or something to blame it on. The reason we blame ourselves doesn’t really matter, the fact is that it is not always our fault. In our culture we have a hard time taking responsibility for anything. It seems like everyone is blaming their problems on someone else. Sometimes it is our fault. Sometimes we did something stupid, like laying our head in puke, and we need to own it and fix it. Other times we need to stop blaming ourselves for something that someone else did to us and seek healing.

The moral of my story is simple.

If you need help, get help. Seek it relentlessly. Don’t lay your head in the puke and try to hide it. Don’t give up after your first try. We all have puke in our lives. Even the rich kids with the perfect families and the new cars, puke. We are all dealing with puke, and you are not as good at hiding it as you think. Talk with someone. Reach out to someone. We are not made to do life alone. We are supposed to have partners, friends, and comrades in this life. We need each other and someone needs you.

mark lutz irise leadership institute the teen mentor.jpgAbout the Author: Mark Lutz a member of the Irise Leadership Institute. He is a graduate from Geneva College’s Youth Ministry Department.  He has served in various roles at New Life Christian Ministries, a large church in Saxonburg PA for the past seven years. Since June of 2016, Mark has been serving as the Discipleship Pastor and as a Lead Team member at New Life.  He has spent the first decade of his professional life studying leadership, building teams, and striving to become a better communicator.  Read More…

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