It was the fall of 2008, and my dream of being a Church Planter was winding down quickly. I had been on a journey to start up my dream church in my dream town, Decatur Georgia, but the dreams weren’t working out. So, as the church wound down with little hope of winding back up, I was scrambling to keep my family afloat. At that time the church paid me $2,000 per month, and the tiny house that we had rented so we could live in the community was costing us $1,500 per month (how we got into that house situation is another story for another time).
To say things were tight would be an understatement. I was coping with the loss of a dream and had to figure out how my family would make it. That is when I ramped up my website work, and that work would later turn into Sideways8. But, doing side website projects still wasn’t cutting it at the time. So I also took a job as a long-term middle school substitute teacher at a school that was about a 45-minute drive from our home. I was a teacher, freelance website designer, pastor, father, and husband, and I was drowning. I learned a lot.
There is a poem by Anis Mojgani called “Shake the Dust.” One of the stanzas reads:
This is for the benches and the people sitting upon them.
This is for the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns
And for the men who have to hold down 3 jobs,
Simply to hold up their children.
For the nighttime schoolers
And for the midnight bike riders trying to fly
Shake the dust.
There is something about that moment in the poem that says, “for the men who have to hold down 3 jobs, simply to hold up their children” that brings tears to my eyes every time. That was a short time in my life, but it may have been the most challenging I have ever had.
The main thing I learned during that time is at the end of the stanza; I learned to “shake the dust.” I learned that, though my situation seemed impossible, it was only for a time. I learned that I could endure working insane hours for the sake of my family, but more than that, I learned that hardship is temporary. Hardship is temporary, it will shake off sooner or later. I learned to shake the dust from my failures, from my shattered dreams, from my tired mornings and endless nights. I learned to shake the dust from my disappointments and my delights. I learned to shake the dust from this moment, recognizing that the next will come and will bring unlimited possibility.
When things are tough, remember to shake the dust, a new day is already near.
If you want to check out the full poem, you can see if performed here. It is worth 4 minutes of your time.