November 10, 2005 by Isaac Hovet
Jake grew up watching his parents fight, his brothers addicted to drugs and alcohol, and his sister, Jenny, in and out of abusive relationships. He spent most of his childhood and teenage years trying to stay out of the way of the inevitable dysfunction that results from such broken people. Often he would max out the volume on his headphones to drown out the fighting, the yelling and screaming or drunken babbling which often filled his home. Jake realized early on that his home was not a pleasant or safe place, so he tried to spend as much time away as he could.
Jake was fairly shy, and didn’t make friends easily, but he did hang out with a couple of other boys on a regular basis. He mostly hung out with them because they didn’t ask about his family or wonder why (aloud at least) Jake never invited them to his place. They also seemed to be on the outside fringe at school. Jocks hang out with jocks, geeks with geeks, and in Jake’s case, loners with loners. Loners are loners because they don’t want to or don’t feel comfortable sharing themselves with others. So, even if loners hanging out with loners resembles a downtrodden statue collection, at least each statue understands that the stony silence is preferred. In the least, a loner click is a group of quiet people ok with being quiet together, and at most is misunderstood people understanding each other’s state of being misunderstood.
Jake’s small group of loners resembled the latter. They all knew that the others carried something with them: maybe deep hurt, maybe a very real sense of unbelonging or perhaps an unnatural shyness born of repeated rejection. Nobody asked, so nobody told.
This atmosphere of secrets and unspoken pain may have contributed to Jake’s willingness to lift the occasional item from local stores. He sure didn’t have to work hard to look the police officer in the eye and lie about his involvement in a vandalism spree. He was used to shoving his feeling far enough down so they wouldn’t affect his quiet/contained disposition. By the time he was 17 he had been to court twice. The judge had been fairly nice to him both times, but he still did enough community service to account for 30 miles of litter patrol.
Jake was smart enough to stay away from the shop-lifting and vandalism, but hurt enough to turn to whatever he could to ease the pain inside. Sometimes he snuck some of his bothers pot or fell asleep with a bottle of vodka, but mostly he soothed himself with pornography. He had never been comfortable around girls and they sure didn’t seem comfortable around him. Those girls in the pictures seemed so comfortable with him. They were willing to entertain Jake’s deep desire to be loved intimately. They didn’t notice his shy nature or care that he didn’t know what to say to a girl. The girls in the pictures certainly weren’t shy with Jake, either. At first, the girls caused Jake to feel a warm rush of emotional love that he had never experienced before. As time wore and Jake repeated his indulgences, the pain became harder to ignore. Jake realized that each rendezvous with those girls only increased his pain. He found himself hurting more than ever.
I would like to say that Jake’s cycle of pain ceased during this time, but it didn’t. Jake continued to dabble in drugs, alcohol and crime. His friends did the same. After a while the courts labeled him as a “chronic criminal.” He did some time for the things he got caught doing, but mostly got away with his crimes. Gradulaly, Jake began to focus less on fulfilling his own wants and more on hurting others. His pain had become bitterness.
One cold night in November, Jake was high. It was a good high, he was feeling on top of the world. He was high enough to be brave and try to approach a girl. He knew a couple, but there was one that he liked very much. Brandi lived and operated in the same shady world as Jake, but he always thought she was better than crime and drugs. There was something strong about her. He knew where her apartment complex was, so he jumped on the bus to go see her.
Jake arrived around 11pm, jittery from both nerves and drugs. He knocked on her door. No answer. He knocked again. As the door slowly opened Jake realized that he had no idea what to say. He hadn’t thought of the actual conversation he had thought only of approaching her. She now stood in the doorway looking very surprised to see him. He stammered out a “Hello, how are you? I hope you weren’t sleeping” in about 1.25 seconds. The drugs and his nerves weren’t allowing Jake to speak at a normal rhythm. His opening line sounded like someone quickly flipping through radio stations on an old tuner. Jake froze. Brandi offered to help by asking if he needed something. Jake’s racing mind again tried to put several thoughts into his voice box at once. As high as he was, he could not spit out anything intelligent. After a couple failed attempts, Jake had enough smarts to shut up. A minute passed before Brandi broke the silence. She told him that she didn’t appreciate him showing up high on her doorstep. Jake couldn’t respond. Brandi continued to express her disagreement and frustration with Jake. Wide-eyed, Jake began to back away. As Brandi shut the door and offered her last statements of rejection, Jake turned and ran into the parking lot.
He hadn’t let himself cry in a long time, but there, wandering through the poorly lit parking lot, Jake sobbed. All the hurt, the pain and sorrow of his whole life came rushing out. He had never experienced real love, hadn’t been accepted by anyone for who he really was and now, in a desperate attempt for love had been severely and decidedly cut off. Those all too familiar feelings of bitterness and anger came washing over him again. Jake wanted to hurt someone.
He coldly gathered himself and looked around. A simple looking Toyota Camry caught his attention. It was an older model, but what attracted Jake was the 2 car seats in the backseat. He wasn’t especially attracted to the monetary value of the car, but certainly felt that he could hurt someone by taking the car. Camry’s are easy to break into and Jake had stolen cars before. After just a moment, Jake was off. It wasn’t until later that night that he realized he had really turned a family on its head. In the car was a laptop, a woman’s purse and many rented DVD’s. He grinned in malicious satisfaction. He grinned knowing that two people who loved each other, two kids with parents…a whole family had been hurt.
The only part of the above story that is fact is the stolen car at the end. My family’s one car was stolen 2 days ago.
The real question is what do you do now? Who are the Jake’s in your life? How does our Lord ask us to respond?
“…But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect…”