Where going?

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.

1 Comment

  1. 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.

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