Sunday, July 17, 2016

Not Suffering, Just Unhappy. How Do We Cope?

I have read a lot of books on suffering, some are great and some are just ok.  I'm re-reading one right now and I am reminding of the importance of pain and suffering. That's for another blog. The reality is that I'm not really suffering. I have some health problems, issues with my blood sugar and some weakness and I'm seeing an endocrinologist in a few weeks. Compared to people with cancer and life threatening diseases, I'm not suffering. I have a house, a truck that is falling apart but still runs. I have a job and a decent income. My wife and kids are healthy and we are safe and secure as anyone can be. I have food, clean water, a comfortable bed, no one wants to hurt me. All in all I have things pretty good, but emotionally I am not in a good place. I'm unhappy.

It's stupid and I can't stand it but I don't know how to fix it. My dream died, I began a path towards full time vocational ministry when I was 15. In 2012, that dream was broken and it has been smashed into smaller and smaller pieces. I attend a good church, but I don't really do anything with my gifts, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I'm on the outside. Sure, I attend Sunday School, Worship, we go to a small group when we can. I attend the men's breakfasts sometimes, I'm in a men's huddle group. My wife attends stuff, my kids are active and involved but I'm still pretty much on the outside, at least compared to what i'm use too. I use to teach, preach, lead and serve and now I just sort of attend. It's fine, but I'm not happy.

I like my job, it's challenging and enjoyable. I trap raccoons and squirrels, I get rid of bats and bedbugs and termites. Most people are happy to see me and I get to help people. There is a lot about my job that appeals to who I am, things like problem solving. I have a good deal of Independence and I'm pretty good at what I do. It's not what I want to do though. I want to teach and lead and develop educational ministry programs. I want to start Christian organizations on public school campuses and in places of business. I want to plant network churches that move away from the purchase property and build a building model that can reproduce more rapidly and have more capital for ministry instead of overhead. I have all these ideas and dreams and goals and I am doing nothing to move towards them.

I love writing and I dream of writing and having books and articles written. I have so many ideas but if you follow my blog you know that writing is something I haven't done much of lately. I work long hours in the summer, and we just moved into a new house. Right now I should be putting the new starter in my truck. I have so much to do and I don't have time to do it all. I haven't been camping this summer and I've only been fishing with the kids twice. I don't have the time to do what i want to do, and I can't afford to do much of it. I work long hours because there is so much to do. I get home and do what I can around here, but physically I run out of energy.

I feel torn down. I have never really been a super successful individual and I have experienced a lot of criticism and discouragement. I'm not trying to do the "oh, poor me" thing, just throwing reality out there. My mom was critical, many peers have been critical, I was told when I left ministry that I wasn't cut out for it. I have been rocked over and over with criticism and rejection. I've had a lot of doors shut in my face and been told I'm not worth a whole lot. You hear that enough, you tend to think it's pretty true. I have never really been the best at anything, I've always been average or below. I have found myself giving up on a lot. I have stopped trying, stopped pushing forward and really stopped caring. I feel like my critics and detractors have steam rolled me and I have just given up. My wife tells me that she knows how defeated I feel. I have lost the will to get up and fight back. It's become a "what's the point" sort of thing. So many who claimed to be my friends, my brothers and my support have betrayed me and lied to me. There have been so many times that people have told me they love me, but don't hesitate to turn on me when it suits them. I have discovered the church is full of politicians and it's hard to know who to trust. It's hard to trust.

Life is going ok, but I am unhappy. I don't know why, I don't know how to fix it. I wish I could have things different, I wish I could change and rearrange a few things. The Apostle Paul says we need to be content in all things and be joyful and patient. I'm not, I am not joyful and I'm not patient and I'm not happy. I want to spend some time over the next handful of posts to explore this phenomenon because I don't think I'm alone in this. I see people doing all sorts of radical things in their lives because they are not happy. We make bad decisions in search for a good feeling. Some people try drugs or drinking or bad relationships, become addicted to something and find ways to escape. I have tried several escapes in an attempt to just feel happy. It's failed.

Together we can walk through this process and try to find a way to be happy without breaking the law, disobeying God, leaving our family, getting divorced, quitting our jobs, losing our money and destroying our lives. Too often, people have gone to these extremes to be happy and I don't think it works. We need to find a way to be happy that truly makes us both happy and obedient in Christ. There has got to be a better way.


  1. Thank you for sharing. I do know exactly how you feel.

  2. Dan, I appreciate your transparency, that is not an easy thing for anyone. Many of us can relate to being criticized, beaten down, stabbed in the back-and often by those we least expect, and being told that we aren't worth a lot. But for me, being told I can't do something or that I'm not cut out for it, makes me want to prove them wrong. If you feel that you are called to ministry and you have that burning desire, then don't let anyone stop you. You answer only to God. Find what makes you happy and go for it!