A Hard Heart

2004 – Every Nation Graduate School of Campus Ministry (GSCM)

The road trip from Louisiana to California was freeing.  We drove with the windows down and played our favorite music as loud as we could.  Despite the fact that we were in our early twenties, we felt so much older.  The pressure of keeping up appearances caused us to constantly worry about our actions.  We had forgotten what it was like to be carefree and simply enjoying life.  The solitude of the open road made us feel safe and allowed us to loosen up a little bit.

We talked candidly with each other, sharing our dreams, hopes and concerns.  We were both beginning to question our leaders.  They contained a certain level of control over our lives, decisions and actions.  But, despite the fact that our entrapment was glaringly obvious to anyone on the outside, we convinced ourselves that our questions were a sign of weakness.   We believed that our leaders and pastors only wanted the best for us, so surely the fault laid within our own hearts.  We concluded that we just weren’t mature enough yet to see the whole picture.    We just needed time…that was all.

Once we arrived, we were told that we would be staying with a single man in the church until our apartment was ready.  I felt my stomach turn at the thought of staying with someone again.  I took comfort in the fact that it would only be a matter of weeks and not months this time around.  That made me feel better… that is until we saw our accommodations.

Our makeshift room contained an air mattress with a sheet thrown on top and a trash can.  It didn’t have a door, so a shower curtain was wedged in between the door frame to give us a sense of privacy.  I whispered my disdain to Barry as we brought in our suitcases.  He chuckled at the aggravated look on my face and reminded me to be thankful that we even had a place to stay.  Annoyed with his answer I playfully slammed the door (shower curtain) on my way back out to the truck.  I needed to grab the box containing our bedding, but more than anything I needed a moment to myself.

Looking up at the sky I rested my arms across the back of tailgate.  I was weary from the long drive, and my emotions were raw as a result.  But as I stood there, alone with my thoughts I finally admitted to God how mad I was at Him.  I wanted to please Him more than anything, but it seemed as though I never could.  Every time I got my hopes up that things would get better I was instantly brought back to feeling like they never really would.  Things were becoming personal between us…for the first time in my life I was beginning to think God was all about seeing His children suffer.  It pained me to realize that my Heavenly Father wasn’t actually how I had always pictured Him.   I wanted nothing more than to pour out my heart to God, to cry and tell Him about how hard I felt things were becoming for us.  But, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I couldn’t face the possibility of God slapping my hand in disgust over my ungrateful attitude and lack of faith.  My relationship with my Lord was changing and I wasn’t convinced that it was for the better.

5 thoughts on “A Hard Heart

  1. Jana,

    My jaw dropped when I read the part about these accommodations. There isn’t much I have to say, well, actually more like not much that would be beneficial to say about this. I am so sorry that you and Barry had to go through that. You are such an amazing woman of God, and though I don’t know Barry personally, I know that if you married him he must be just as amazing as you. Thank you for being faithful in things that God has laid upon your heart. It is so inspiring to read what you post.

    Love,
    Sarah Cadriel Cutright

  2. I am sorry to say this, but it brings me comfort to me to hear that someone else was going through the same range of emotions I was. I tried hard to change my approach and my heart to see things the way I was being told that they were. I was never able to fully resign myself to the way of thinking that my leaders were not allowed to be questioned. The God I loved so much had always welcomed my immature and selfish questions with love and tenderness. He always answered them and corrected me gently. I lost that sense at some point and I am not entirely certain I have gained it back. I am sorry that you and Barry went through this. You did so with an amazing composure.

  3. I have experienced that feeling and thot that God just wanted me to suffer…….
    I keep this on my cell phone: No Condemnation!

    John 3:17 – God did not send his Son in to the world to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved!
    Loving you Jana!

  4. man, i remember that fear so vividly, of God not “necessarily” punishing me (but pretty much, yea!) for my “lack of..” faith, humility, gratitude, etc. It’s like i didnt want to tell God how I felt (as if he didnt already know!) b/c i didnt want him to instill those things in me “the hard way.”
    ughhh
    im so glad thats over. but like i mentioned before, the aftershock still comes every once in a while. but its so freeing when i capture that thought and rebuke it!! God is not in the business of making us suffer in order to break us down, like soldiers!!

  5. I agree with a previous poster…I am on the edge of my seat.

    The last few paragraphs…regarding ‘I was beginning to think God was all about seeing His children suffer.’…was/is something that I began to realize in my own life while doing “The Inheritance’ Bible Study by Beth Moore….it was SUCH an eye opener for me.

    Thanks a million times over for being transparent…it is really become a catalyst in our lives to take a good look at things…to look back and uncover the old bandages with old wounds that I ‘just forgot’ about…because they have been here for so long.

    We are excited about the freedom the Lord has brought and is bringing in our lives.

    Love you,
    Kat

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