(Yes, the blog post title was completely ripped of from Carrie Fisher’s book “Postcards from the Edge.”)
I haven’t written a while and this post is going to be one that I know some folks will wish I didn’t write. I know this going in. However, I just feel the need…in the spirit of the time I did Mustard Seed Year…to write this and be completely open and honest with what’s happening in life.
If you don’t know Mustard Seed Year, it was a year where I felt God tell me to blog every single day what was happening in my life and to be completely transparent.
That’s what will happen here. And it’s going to be a LONG post. I know that “blogging etiquette” and the “rules of blogging to get traffic” say to break up long posts into a series…but this isn’t being written to drive traffic. If five people read this post, I’ll be shocked. (And that’s including three folks I know will: my mom, Bill Grandi and Michael Perkins. Dad’s not on the list because mom will summarize it for him after she reads it.) This post will ramble a bit and I don’t plan to edit it for “flow.” This is the outpouring of a dying heart.
I’m not doing well. At all. I’m really on the verge of total breakdown.
I’ve written many times over the years regarding my struggle with depression and the path that God has chosen for my life. It has not been an easy road and joyful moments have been few and far between while the deserts, valleys and dark nights have been very long.
And I’ve finally reached the point where I’m done. I’ve reached the point in my walk with Christ where I have nothing left to even attempt to continue.
(Note: No, I’m not going to harm myself. I would never do that to Dale & Eli and my parents.)
As I type this, I’m lying alone in my one bedroom apartment near the Nashville airport. It hurts too much to sit down because I pinched a nerve in my hip that has left me hobbled for the better part of a week. It even hurts just lying here…but I can’t afford to get it checked out. (More on that later.) Besides, it’ll heal eventually, right?
I am broke and was hit with a major, unexpected bill that puts me in serious financial peril. It was a mistake that I made; I’m not trying to pass the blame off on anyone else. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s as extreme a problem as it is right now. I don’t know how it’s going to be taken care of short of God really pulling off a miracle and as you’re about to read, He’s not showing up these days.
I have no friends here. None. I am as completely alone as you can be. So why come here? I really believed God was calling me to come here. I had pastor friends confirm it. People who didn’t know each other were telling me they felt led to tell me to go. The pieces all fell into place for a decent apartment in a non-crime ridden area at a price that could be worked with my salary from work plus a little assistance from a friend who believed that God was calling me to Nashville. So I obeyed what I thought was the Lord and went despite serious push-back from some places that were not happy with my decision to go.
Now, before I go on, I admit it’s not all negative. The boys LOVE Nashville and have told me several times that they’re glad I’m here versus Arkansas where I had been living. It’s also only a few hours from a pastor who is a close confidante and counselor to me for really the first time since we’ve known each other. A few other non-negative things will come up too in this piece…but I wanted to put some good things up front before the rest rolls in.
When I came here, thinking that I was obeying God’s will, I naively expected Him to bless me when I arrived here. Instead, my life went back to the virtual silence from Him I had for the previous years and any momentum came to a crashing halt. I found myself visiting churches that were not in line with God’s teachings at all…either through Scriptural deficiency or a desire to put their image ahead of Christ and be a country club more than the bride of Christ. There seems to be a lot of “show churches” in the Nashville area.
I’m checking out a small one right now that seems to be a fairly decent church. The congregation is small, so everyone seems to pretty much know each other, and the pastor seems to be very grounded in Scripture with a passion for it. It’s the kind of place that could suck me in assuming this isn’t just a facade.
The problem is that I know I don’t fit in there because I don’t fit in. I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m “weird”. Just my presence makes people uncomfortable. I have the interpersonal skills of Sheldon Cooper. I have a very soft heart and have genuine concern when people are hurting; but it makes them uncomfortable because they think I must want something from them if I actually seem to care. Heck, I make some people nervous when I just greet them by name because people don’t take the time to greet folks by name.
I give this new church six weeks before the pastor gives me the “I don’t think God’s calling you here” talk.
I’ve had this problem all my life. That’s why I was an outcast in high school and pretty much hated by everyone who went to school with me. That awkwardness has pretty much just gone through the rest of life that if I have more than 2-3 people in my life at a time who really are friends it’s a miracle.
And so it’s one hurt after another when I put myself out there and get thrown aside. I recently went a week without posting on Facebook and not a single person messaged me to ask if I was OK or if something was going on. I could have been lying dead on my apartment floor with Neil T. Kitty eating my feet for food and no one would have even noticed it (outside of my folks and boys.)
So I’m someone who is loyal, faithful, dedicated and would show up at 2am if you needed someone to be there. The “friend” people claim they want to have but because I’m quirky and painfully honest about things (a by-product of my recovery from porn addiction) people don’t want to have me around them for any length of time. I “tire” them one person who I thought was a friend and later discovered was not once told me.
So that leaves me in one place……alone. I’ve gone to some public events like an improv comedy “jam” to try and get out of the house and perhaps make some friends; that’s ended up with me being told I had made some folks uncomfortable and to be more careful. I can see some people’s unease in their body language. (And it’s both a blessing and curse to see body language and have a gift of discernment.) It’s hard to feel comfortable and welcome anywhere when you can see people’s unease radiating from their bodies.
And women. Don’t get me started there. I want to have a loving, Godly marriage so bad. It’s not an idol in that I worship it; but it’s a strong desire of my heart that causes me pain many times when I’m out somewhere and see tons of loving couples and then it’s just…me. The Human Fifth Wheel. Since this blog is being completely honest, there are times I don’t go out in public when I need to leave the apartment because I just can’t take the sight of couples. It’s a giant reminder that apparently I am so repulsive to women they’d rather date guys that treat them like dirt, use them, beat them and worse than be with me. (And yes, twice I’ve had women dump me to go back to abusive ex’s. How’s that for a blow to your ego? You rank less than a wife/girlfriend beater in a woman’s eyes.)
You have no idea how much it cuts me to see a Christian woman I know post on social media somewhere about how they can’t find a good Godly man to love them and be with them and/or how horrible it is to be alone and lonely and know you’re not good enough for them to step into that role even if you are the kind of man they say they want to have in life. Makes you wonder why you would want to continue to be a good man in the first place if the bad guys who use and abuse women are with someone and you’re just “America’s friend.”
And all of this comes back to the fact that as much as some pastors and Christians will be furious to read this; my overall life is worse since I came to Christ than before I accepted Him as Savior.
Save the Christian platitudes: I’ve heard them all.
I’m going to go on and explain. I would ask those of you who knee-jerked to Christsplain to me how my life is so much better because I’ll end up in heaven and have that “peace” take a step back and look at the entire picture before running to the cliches.
I’ve been following Christ now for roughly 23 years. During this time, He has refined me in a number of ways and I am certainly not the same person I was when I called Jesus my Lord in that dinky, dusty bedroom in a New Mexico apartment. I am thankful for that; I really hated the man I was before I came to know Jesus. I like myself as a person a lot more now. I’m significantly more concerned about others than I am myself. I hurt when I see people hurt. I strive to reflect Christ in my daily life and show love to others in the little things. I do random acts of kindness in His name every single day in some way, even if it’s just sending notes on social media to encourage Christians who are struggling with something. I am truly second in my life and I took very seriously (as did God apparently) when I said He should take my wife and do what He wants to do with it.
And sometimes that feels like a really horrendous mistake.
I look where I am right now: no friends, no girlfriend/wife, inability to pay my bills, no outlets to do any kind of significant ministry, failures any time I tried to force some ministry activity or to be a part of a ministry…and ask myself why it was better to turn my life over to God.
I mean, my sons haven’t seen their father a success. They’ve seen me be there for them and I know they appreciate that. I know they know I’m there for them because I and my folks have worked very hard to make sure I can be there for them. My boys are 2nd only to God in my life. But they haven’t seen their father succeed.
That kills me inside.
My oldest son is 16. What does it say to him when he sees his Dad who continually praises God, says God’s in control, points to God as a “loving father”, reads Scripture with him, takes him to church where he hears about the “goodness of God” (Psalms 31:19) who wants to “give His children good things” (Matthew 7:11) sees his earthly father fail over and over, struggle to just get through the day and never have a true “success” to note?
I know it makes him question how “good” God really is when he sees his dad do nothing but struggle all the time (no matter how much his dad tries to hide the struggles from him.)
I know I question it sometimes. Question it a lot, actually.
I know what the Word says and I believe the Word is God’s words for us. So I know when it says He wants to give good things, then He wants to give good things.
So I have to ask what’s wrong with me that He doesn’t give me good things? Or, perhaps better to say, is very very stingy with good things?
Am I somehow less of a child of God than others? It sure seems like it when you look at the whole picture.
It’s almost like God wants to keep me at arm’s length just like almost every human being I know.
And I know it’s my fault. I told God to do what He wanted with my life. Apparently, He wants me to struggle and barely make it through each day. I’m the person that others look at and think “thank God my life is better than that.” And I have to accept that if this is the case because I told my Lord to do whatever He wanted to do. And if Jesus really is your Lord, then that’s the only way you can live; the Lord of your life has to take total control.
Now, the blowback I get is “well, God’s not evil; He’s not sadistic; He doesn’t hurt you.” I agree that God is not evil. He cannot do evil.
He can allow it to happen.
Pastors hate when I say that.
But God allowed Job to be tormented by Satan…tormented by evil…and while God himself wasn’t evil at all He knew it was happening and did not stop it.
You see, if God truly is omnipotent…meaning there’s nothing in existence that can stop God from doing what God wants to do…then anything bad happening to you is happening because God allows it to happen. If you cannot accept that the collapse of your life happens because God allows it, then you don’t truly believe God is all powerful.
Yes, we’re in a fallen world. Yes, there is an enemy who wants to kill us. Yes, we make really bad choices in life.
But God ALLOWS us to go through the times that really suck. Your suffering, my suffering, anyone’s suffering is because God allows it for some purpose we can’t understand.
You won’t hear that in a Joel Osteen sermon.
Actually, you won’t hear that in most reformed pastor’s sermons either.
There’s a totality of truth of Christ that just isn’t taught in the American church today. A pastor will not stand in the pulpit and say that you can come to Christ and your life is going to be significantly worse and much harder to live from the point you accept Him. Why? Most Americans will turn and run the other way if they think it’s not all hearts and flowers.
That’s part of the reason you see so many churches accepting openly blasphemous things like gay marriage…they’re more interested in making people happy than following Christ. They’re more about Woodstock style “love” than the real love of Christ himself.
Because you can’t be all positive, hearts and flowers if you show the whole of Jesus.
You may hear 1 Peter 4:13 in a Bible study but you won’t hear a full sermon from the pulpit on it.
You don’t hear them say that Jeremiah 29:11 is not a promise to you today but was to the children of Israel at the time. Same God, yes. But that promise is not for you as written in the Scripture.
You don’t hear them say that while Job was given so much more than he lost in his trial, there’s no promise anywhere in Scripture God will restore you in the same way or even restore you at all to what you had before the entire world went south.
And moving on from that subject…I have my own beefs with God.
For example, I did say He could do whatever He wanted with my life. And so far, He’s pretty much wasting it.
I’m in no kind of full time ministry other than being dad to my kids and a loving son to my parents.
He’s given me a gift of writing. A gift of speaking. A very very creative mind. A gift to take pictures that touch people. A gift to make videos, produce and edit them. A gift to perform on stage like I’ve done both in community theater and in improv comedy. An usually deep love for and knowledge of the Word for someone who didn’t go to seminary. (I chalk that up to Him giving me the gifts to be a journalist and thus I dig into the Scriptures more than most.) A talent to really play drums & percussion well and bass guitar in an adequate manner. A sickening knowledge of music from the 70s, 80s and 90s. 😉
And……………He keeps me a thousand miles away from using any of those gifts in any kind of ministry capacity.
He’s allowed me to give a sermon once. ONCE. It was the best moment I’ve ever had with Him and He hasn’t let it happen twice.
I’ve played on a few worship teams and had some really bad experiences where the teams were more about the pastor’s wife or the worship leader’s ego or wanting to be a carbon copy of Hillsong than truly worshipping Christ and leading people to Him.
And it brings me to a really frustrating point with Him. Why give me these gifts and do nothing with them?
Look, I love my job. I work for a great company and love being able to do the news every day. It’s a passion for me. Yes, as I stated before, it doesn’t pay my bills. That’s not on the company ownership stuffing pockets; it’s a new company and we’re all being paid way below market value because we’re trying to get it off the ground. My bosses have made sacrifices for this company I could never make financially and I salute them for it. It’s turning around after years of hard work and we have a guy at the helm now who really knows his stuff. Yes, I count my job as a blessing even though it’s not enough to pay the bills each month. It does allow me to use some of my gifts…writing, speaking, producing. It’s not for God, but it is using my gifts, and I will acknowledge that.
Have I tried to find a second job? Yes. Have I been able to find one that will do what I need to pay the bills? No.
Most of them want me working every weekend, which means I wouldn’t be able to see my kids. God put those boys in my life and said to be their father. I can’t put a $9 an hour job that won’t pay the rest of my bills anyway ahead of my calling from God to be the father to those two boys.
Has God opened a way to meet those bills? Yes, through the generosity of several people. I’m not homeless yet. And I’m thankful for that.
But it kills me every single time I have to accept charity because I’m a college-educated broadcaster with 30 years experience and extensive writing/producing/editing knowledge and I can’t find a job that pays all my bills or even a second job to pick up the slack. It’s a failure. I see it. Everyone around me sees it.
My kids see it.
And no matter how hard they see me work…and Dale’s commented many times on how hard he sees me work…they don’t see victory. I hate that.
And because my company is new, I lost my quality insurance in June. The previous plan I had under the former ownership would cover my therapy appointments, psychiatrist appointments and my anti-depression medication without my having to even pay a deductible. My much much much needed mental health treatments are now in jeopardy and I have to struggle to find ways to pay for the medication and treatment I need to try and keep even some semblance of sanity.
And this is where I hear the voices in my head from all the Christians who tell me that I apparently don’t have strong enough faith in Jesus or I wouldn’t suffer from mental illness.
And I know there are people worse than me. There was a time I’d say “thank God I’m not like them.” Now, my heart’s been melted to the point that I hurt for them. I want to help them but most of the time I can’t because financially I can’t do a darn thing. I’ve given up a lot of clothes and “stuff” to various charities because that’s the only way I can really help. Donate time until they stop calling me to help out.
And while I’m venting a bit, I really am sick of not being able to do more to help human trafficking organizations.
Folks who know me are aware of my big passion to stop human trafficking and sex slavery. I’ve had this passion for well over a decade giving a lot of money to groups and volunteering the very very few times that I can.
You see, men just aren’t really welcome volunteering in most groups.
I get why. I really do. The women in these groups have been abused almost exclusively by men; thus a man being around could trigger them in ways that are not helpful to recovery. I don’t dispute that one bit. I’ve been through enough mental health treatment to understand triggers and how they can completely derail your day and life.
But that puts me, a man, in a box where I’m either a cash cow or prayer unit. They’ll let me pray for them; I can give them money…but that’s it.
I’m not saying those things aren’t necessarily…but I’m more a do something guy than sit around just throw cash at the problem guy. But I can’t work a booth at some event because it’s just for female volunteers. I can’t show up for clean up days at the facility or volunteer at the outreach car wash.
It’s frustrating as crap. And it’s another place where I go “God, with the gifts and abilities you’ve given me, I know I could help these folks. Yet I can’t help at all. Why?”
If you’re still reading, I owe you a Pepsi or something at this point.
Christian platitudes…even words at this point…just don’t mean anything to me. I saw a pastor post online “I’m glad Christ is all I need!” And I looked at it and immediately thought “you have a loving wife, loving kids, a job preaching and teaching hundreds, you have multiple ministries where you’ve seen God impact people’s lives, you can pay all your bills, you have enough left over for the trips I see you posting on Facebook…you have a heck of lot more than just Christ.” You may genuinely be glad Christ is all you need. Call me when He’s all you have.
And I know guys who have been there and back.
I’ve been there. And God makes me stay there. And every time I think I’m “coming back” or that God will FINALLY open the floodgates of blessing on me rather than giving me a blessing every now and then like a drip from a baby’s eye dropper I get slammed harder into the rock bottom where I find myself almost all the time.
I’m tired of it all.
I’m tired of following God and ending up barely making it through the day.
I’m tired of suffering through one problem after another without any real purpose to the struggle.
I’m tired of having all these gifts and talents given by God and then no opportunity to really use them to help Him.
I’m tired of not having friends.
I’m tired of God apparently thinking I’m not good enough to have one of His daughters as my wife.
I’m tired of not being able to meet my financial obligations without outside help.
I’m tired of waking up in the morning and feeling sad because Jesus didn’t come back while I was sleeping and my folks, my boys and I are finally in heaven.
And I don’t know what more I can do at this point.
All I get when I pray is God yelling at me about some sin I did and/or telling me to give what little money I have to some ministry or church.
No answers to where I’m hurting.
No open doors.
Nothing but an occasional drip of blessing water while I’m cooking on the sand of a desert that never seems to end…which 9 times out of 10 is when my boys are here for a visit.
God could change my situation.
He’s choosing not to.
My struggles to even live is being watched by the One who says He loves me as much as Jesus and He’s just sitting there watching it.
He’s still good.
I know it. I know the Word. I see Him blessing other people. I see the good that He does for others. I don’t doubt He’s good.
Which makes everything all the more confusing.
Making me fear to make any kind of sin or mistake because there’s some reason He’s not blessing and allowing me to be punished.
And I really just don’t know what to do next. I’ve been completely beaten into inactivity because I don’t want to take back my situation from God to try and do it all myself. I’ve seen that crash and burn too much.
Yet God is silent. And inactive.
And I’m really tired of even breathing at this point.
Yet I know there’s nowhere I can go because He is everywhere and in everything.
God, I can’t do anything right now. Where are You?