Tuesday, June 18, 2013 | By: Jake

My Hands Are Dirty

I walk back to my room in the dark of the night after another evening devotional with the kids and other volunteers, slowly making my way amidst the dense fog. I pass through the gated door to my room...the rain still trickling from the gutter as I quietly sing "Grace Like Rain". But although my mouth confesses the feelings of grace, I feel far from it.

The pastor's voice still ringing in my head...

"It's like we're putting on a happy face when we are actually struggling....you know what I mean, Jake?" 

Coincidence? Conviction?

Yet another day goes by full of laziness, and even if the girls were not constantly declaring,"Jake siempre está cansado." (Jake is always tired), it would have been fairly easy to tell that I wasn't getting enough sleep.

It's not that I was too busy or staying up too late. It's that I couldn't sleep. I was up night after night thinking.

After tossing and turning in my bed for an hour or so, I finally turn on my laptop to read some blogs and ease my mind. The computer starts up and my desktop picture shows:

The Cross...Love...Titus 3:3-7...words that continually pierce my heart.

But now they pierce in a different way...

It's not like I wasn't prepared for any of this...it started back in May when that same good friend pictured above spoke of words we all needed to hear:
"Putting on [a] face is like putting on shoes. We think it's helping. We think others can't see our dirty and gross looking feet. But they are still there. They don't go away because we wear shoes."
Then, that other woman of God gave some amazing advice:
"I think it starts with this: no more hiding. I need to be honest about myself and the places where I fall short with myself and the community that I am investing in. This way, transformation can happen in my heart and I can continue to grow."
And finally, just shortly before the "piercing" changed, a guest blogger proclaimed the truth:
"On a given Sunday, when the depression was suffocating, [my wife] armed herself with honesty and went to church... 
 'If people ask me how I am doing, I’m going to tell them,' [she said.] 
She answered each, 'How are you?' with a candid, 'Not well. I’m depressed. Will you pray for me?'"

Again and again, we're told to be real, present, candid with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, we continually act like nothing is wrong...we resist vulnerability. It affects our pride. It can ruin our image. It can ruin our identity. It can ruin our reputation.

I closed my laptop, confused and angered by the sight of the picture.

It pierced in a different way...because I didn't believe it anymore. 
I couldn't go to sleep...because I didn't believe it anymore.
I couldn't find peace...because I didn't believe it anymore.

I couldn't bring myself to find faith in the Cross, in Christ, in Church...I just didn't have faith...

But what was worse was that I kept the secret inside. Again and again, the opportunity presented itself for me to confide in someone, for me to open up, for me to be vulnerable.

But I still resisted...because that's what we do. We like doing things our way.

And the following morning, after another night of little sleep, I open my laptop to see a different picture:

A call to present our dirty hands, to present our real selves. So yes, my hands are dirty, and for the past week and a half, I have struggled with my belief in God, but I finally opened up. I finally reached out...I stopped telling lies.

And since I´m trying not to tell lies...

I can´t honestly say that my faith has fully returned, but since I opened up to one person, it's gotten amazingly better.

And as I open up my Bible this morning, truth springs forth...

And tomorrow morning, I plan to go to morning prayer for the first time in quite a while. Yeah, it's at 5am, but I have my dear sister in Christ's words in the back of my head...and I know I'll get up.

Your continual prayers are immensely appreciated.


Antos Family Blog said...

Your words touch my heart. Because we all go through this same thing at one time or another. As we grow and experience different things in our lives, our faith is challenged. I personally understand very well your doubts.
Here's the beauty of it all; God wants us to seek the truth and ask questions, for it is in this journey where we find our faith. It is our job to be patient and listen and somehow trust. It's not always easy, but clearly the struggle that you show here, shows that you care very deeply and that your faith is in fact very strong, but that you are indeed "tired".
Hang on Jake, you are most obviously a special young man who has many great things awaiting you. Until you can find that strength, give your troubles to God and let Him handle it, in the mean time, I will continue to pray for you with diligence.
Most sincerely, Jackie Antos :)

Carly Loeffel said...

Miss you, Jake. To be honest, you're the type of person I try to be. You and Emily. Love you both, even if we don't talk all the time. Have a great rest of the summer and I'll see you in August. :)


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