Well, now what do I do? It is a new year, a year that will contain, among other milestones, my son’s second birthday, the fifth anniversary of my first date with the young woman who is now my wife, and the thirtieth anniversary of my conception.
Yes, time is flying. In a year and a half I will turn thirty (30) years old. I had thought that my life would look different at this point. I thought I would be striding down a rewarding, fulfilling career path by now. I am not, and it is difficult to move past tis glaring fact, difficult not to stand still and stare in disappointment at my current professional state, difficult not to dwell on the idea that it is my fault that I am where I am and that I am not where I think I want to be.
Is it my fault? Well, yes, I think it must be, to the extent that I have not done anything concrete or determined to change my situation, to make any vague dream I might suppose myself to have into a reality, or even a likelihood. It is my fault to the extent that I am lazy, exhausted, indolent, despondent, and it is my fault that I am these things to the extent that I do not move past them, do not push or drag myself to anything more closely resembling a life, the life I almost imagine myself living. It is my fault to the extent that I do not work to change any of these detrimental states for the better. It is my fault to the extent that I irrationally reject, even resent, my wife’s attempts to help and/or motivate me to better my life and my self, until she is understandably ready to wash her hands of me.
But my life is not a bottomless pit. I have a beautiful and endlessly exuberant young son who fills my life with heartbreaking joy. I have a wonderful and beautiful wife who still tries to love me, who still attempts to believe in me and my potential despite all my unintentional efforts to prove to her that I am not worth believing in. I have a job that is paying me well enough to live, and to live better than I had thought possible a year ago. We are feeling easier about our financial situation than we have since I robbed my wife of all the trust she had placed in me by my well-intentioned fiscal mismanagement. And thanks to unforeseen generosity from family members we will probably be buying a car early in the new year, and a new bed, and continue to work our way out of debt.
And continue to work our way toward a life that pleases us, that inspires us, that fulfils us. Part of the problem is that my wife can imagine such a life, and I cannot. She can imagine building a future step by step; I can only see how very far we are currently from where we want to be.
Which means I waste a lot of time and energy dreaming idly of a ‘quick fix’ to allow us to jump over all the intermediary steps I cannot imagine straight to the goal. So I daydream about suddenly becoming ‘financially independent’ (i.e. winning the lottery or something of the kind) or landing a ‘dream job’ that instantly fixes all our current travails and allows my soul to sing in several octaves at once.
I long for some such deus ex machina to lift us into a life that allows us the space to feel happy, to feel alive. I am almost certain that we are capable of such happiness, if only we had the chance…
But we do have the chance, every day. I just don’t see it, because I am too lost in a) feeling sorry for myself; b) feeling ashamed of how disappointingly inadequate I have proven as a husband and provider; c) feeling certain that we would be just fine if only we never had to worry about money ever again; or d) sleeping.
How can I effect any positive change in this pathetic situation? Well I really don’t believe that I can, but I also believe that might just be the depression talking. So what, then?
Well, I need to work at this life thing — steadily and energetically. I need to work at my, um, job search, not for five minutes at a time every week or three, but seriously, with commitment, determination, and an earnest desire to take back what modicum of control I can reasonably expect to exert over this life I am permitted, graced to be living. And then I need to place the rest in God’s hands, but not with the expectation that He will miraculously pluck me out of my milieu and instantly make my troubles vanish. Rather, I need to rely on God to give me strength and grace to persevere. I need to allow myself to be refined and perfected, and to allow myself to to be shown the way. And then I must have the courage and fortitude to walk along whatever path I am shown.
But all this is so much talk. I am weak-willed, slothful — both physically and spiritually — and without purpose. Does this situation seem very likely to change? Or more to the point: do I seem like a person who can effect any such change? There is surely no evidence, no eyewitness testimony to support any claim to this likelihood.
I know I don’t believe I can do it. And this strikes me as a bit of a sticking point that I can’t quite figure a way around. If I don’t believe I can change, am I very likely to surprise myself? So how do I go about changing my view of myself (for the better of course!) in order to allow myself the confidence to actually improve my ability to live life? I don’t know.
My wife very much wants me to read Whole Child, Whole Parent by Polly Berrien Berends— a book she swears by — which I am very willing to do; I just have not yet gotten into it, and I don’t really get much reading time these days, especially not sufficient to accommodate a text that takes some energy to engage. So it remains unread by me, and my wife believes that I don’t want to read, and by extension that I do not want to learn how to improve my life.
I need to reëstablish a relationship with the Divine, and I have needed to do this for several years now. I am not confident that I can do this on my own, but I am also completely at a loss as to where to turn for spiritual guidance. I know it is out there for me, I just haven’t yet looked hard enough or in the right places to find what I need.
So I suppose it could be done: I could work hard and convert my life into a life I could be proud of, a life that felt worth living. With God’s grace I could find the focus and dedication necessary to change my outlook and revitalise my mode of living (modus vivendi). Will I? I have to want to, and I want to want to, but I still lack the confidence to believe in my ability to succeed at anything that matters. If I can change that about myself, then I think it will not be so impossible to change could into can. And then I can really start to get somewhere.
I’ve struggled with many of these same issues. And at some point you just start pushing yourself off cliffs and you discover that the landing is quite soft. And rewarding.