I don’t know what to say. I’m new to this site. I’m a 42 year old loser with 3 amazing kids who deserve a better father. I can’t even look at them and tell them the things that a parent is supposed to tell their kids. I can’t tell them that Jesus loves them because I just don’t believe it anymore. I can’t tell them that hard work pays off or that doing good things for others matters. I’ve begged for wisdom and purpose and peace for ~5 years now and haven’t felt God with me through any of it. How can I have a relationship with a God that won’t talk to me. In that time I’ve gone through the Bible twice over 650 bible meditations and 300 Bible devotional reading plans. I still pray but don’t believe for a second my prayers will be answered.
Hi. I’m the same age with a daughter who is now grown up and I’m going through similar feelings regarding hopelessness and feeling like God is so far away out of my reach. I pray and pray but cry myself to sleep alone having felt completely forgotten by Him and this world. I wish I had some words of comfort for you. Instead I can just say please know you’re not alone as I’m going through much of the same and I know how hard it is. I’m trying to make it through the night each night. Baby steps I guess as they say… I too feel broken.
My experience with this was in a different, lower stakes point in my life. When I went to college, I lost everything I thought I knew about myself. I graduated high school at the top of my class, but by the time I got to college I was burned out with school, and in my mind, to be burnt out was to be too weak to do what needed to be done. I started skipping classes and falling behind. The more I fell behind the more hopeless I felt, the more classes I skipped, the more I felt like a complete loser, and the more I sank into deep depression. If I couldn’t even get through my underclassman courses, what would I amount to in the real world? What was it to be smart if I couldn’t do the work? And as all this was going on, where was my fight? I was just taking it, rolling over and giving up. A waste of potential, a bad investment of the school’s scholarship money, washed up, destined for a life of working menial jobs and thinking “I used to be somebody.”
Through all this, I never stopped believing in God, but I did believe he had stopped blessing my life. I felt like a rat in a maze, running in circles and beating my head against a wall until I collapsed from exhaustion and hopelessness, all while He was observing and taking notes like an impassive scientist. I would ask why. Why can’t I muster the mental energy to go to class? I know I’m smart enough. Why can’t I do the hard work? I know I’m a hard worker. Why don’t I love myself? I know I have a lot going for me. Why can’t I just wake up feeling rested one day and get a fresh start? I can feel it, just one decent night’s sleep will fix everything. Why don’t I want this enough? Being an engineer was the only thing I knew I wanted with every fiber of my being. Why are you letting me circle the drain? I’ve been faithful enough, I don’t deserve this.
I didn’t hear any answers, but I got a couple of gentle nudges. My parents told me it was okay to walk away from my full ride scholarship after 3 semesters. When I said I wanted to go start my career in menial work, they encouraged me to go to community college, where I fell in love with the drafting program and got my technical associate’s degree a couple years later. When I went back to a university to finish my bachelor degree and walked out of a building, knowing with absolute certainty that I couldn’t sit through one more class, my mom told me to go get a job using my drafting degree. And through a series of lucky breaks that seemed to come out of nowhere, I started an engineering career without a degree.
I now believe God was working with me, just not in a way that I wanted or that felt good. It took a decade to start shaking feelings of inadequacy and shortcoming, and another several years to (mostly) believe in myself. What I figure now is I was asking God for things to go the way I wanted, which were not necessarily the best ways, and that in my moments of surrender (read: giving up), he guided me toward the path I was meant to take. Today, I can’t imagine where I’d be if I’d gotten my engineering degree in 4 years and landed a cushy job right out of school. Honestly it sounds boring. Today, I appreciate everything I have and every opportunity I’m given, I’m hungry enough to do whatever it takes to advance my career, and I take nothing for granted, because without that piece of paper I am guaranteed nothing. I was humbled, and I learned that I can’t make things happen by my will alone.
All that to say, sometimes God is answering your questions with his seeming silence. I know that’s not something that’s easy to understand or accept. The metaphor I liked to use was: If I’m in an out of control car speeding toward a tree, do you expect me to slide over and let Jesus take the wheel? No, I’m going to fight that steering wheel like hell to get the car back on track. As things have gotten better, I’ve expanded the metaphor to: Things are looking hopeless. If I let go, stop fighting, stop fearing, maybe the car will hit a dip and steer around the tree. It’s still not simple. I’m human, I want to take charge of my life, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing day to day; but I also see, over and over, that when I quit fighting against dead-end or hopeless situations, an opportunity presents itself very quietly.
God doesn’t live in the pages of the Bible or devotionals. Those are tools to help understand what He’s all about, but they don’t have the answers. God lives in and around you. It’s okay if you don’t trust Him or if you’re angry at Him. He understands that your life is hard and you don’t understand why. He understands that you feel like you’re drowning and just need some help. He never promised that life would be easy or painless, or that things wouldn’t suck, but He is there all the same.
You have 3 amazing kids. You believe they deserve a better father, which tells me you love them so much and want so much good for them, that there is no better father for them. Love doesn’t put food on the table, but your kids will remember your love more than they’ll remember the things they didn’t have. Ever met someone who had rich parents that essentially paid them to leave them alone? Those are sad, unfulfilled people who have a hard time understanding love and conflate it with material goods.
You can be honest with your kids. You can tell them that you don’t understand what Jesus wants for you right now, and you’re having a hard time with that. You can tell them that you’re working really hard to try to give them a good life, but sometimes hard work isn’t enough without a little bit of luck. You can tell them that they may not get any rewards for doing good things for others, have a discussion about if it’s enough to do good things because it’s the right thing to do, and tell them that sometimes you’re not so sure.
Thanks for your expressions, it is very common for many to feel disillusioned. Many are not sure how a relationship with the Creator should look like. Their expectations of what their Heavenly Father should do for them to answer prayers is also unclear. How does one know that He is with them during adversities and suffering? Many look for miraculous signs for evidence of such things. Can we expect Him to speak with us miraculously? Clearly not. However His Word is how He speaks to mankind. It is our job as children to listen and apply the wisdom.
Our kids can rely 100% on the sun rising each day, and the Love of the Father is even more reliable than the sunrise! Observe how creation is perfectly made for the welfare of mankind. ( The distance of the sun to the earth, earths gravity, beautiful delicious fruit in endless variety, amazing mathematical formulas, Fibonacci sequences in nature, pineapple spirals, golden ratios everywhere, the self-healing human body) On and on the list goes…
Paraphrased verses from any translation:
JAMES: 1:17 - Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of celestial lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
LUKE 11:28 - Happy are those hearing the Word of God and keeping it.
ISAIAH 48:17,18 - He teaches us how to benefit ourselves
1 PETER 5:7 - Throw all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you.
Don’t give up! Keep up your search! Keep building your own confidence and relationship and your children will naturally pickup on it and see how your Spiritual Father is real to you. We can’t pretend. It must be real and His written wisdom must cause changes in the soil of our hearts.
I am 33, have a daughter kindergarten age, and I get it. First if all, you’re not a loser. This is something you clearly care about a lot, and that is very important to you and your kids.
How are you supposed to look around and tell your kids all these things you thought you believed and maybe even helped you at one point? How am do you filter what your were told was the truth through what is right in front of you in your life? Was it a lie? It makes you feel a little insane for going back to something I’ve and over and over because it’s supposed to help, but us just not. Then what?
I hear you. And I’m so sorry. It sounds like this really meant a lot to you before, and now it feels like it’s just slipped all away. As for the faith aspect of it what if you just let your self fully admit it, and work it back up?
I think a lot of people are coming out of some deep religious wounds right now. I think the trendy word is deconstruction, it sounds like you and me, and others are just sorting through it all for the truth. Maybe God isn’t what we were told before. I think it’s biblically encouraged to take a step back and look at your faith piece by piece. What are lies, or what was built in truth and got twisted up, or what was true all along?
A lot of promises from the pulpit are not actually promised biblically. I see that you’ve done so many studies, and that tells me you might still be searching. There’s a song I think that relates here. The lyrics are “have a fucked up my head with all the books that I’ve read, was I too hungry for the truth to find you”. (The song is Wonder, by The Classic Crime.) I have a BA and a nearly completed masters in ministry and divinity. I’ve read books on books on books so I understand the looking and seeking answers. Surely someone has to have them right?! I’ve done the work. I’ve put in the time. I’ve researched it all. Why do I still have this deep, deep, pain and doubt? Someone that was mentioned to me once, is to think about the truth and biblical teaching as a set of beads. The truth is found in the yellow beads. But from the pulpit, someone times some orange ones get added in, because they look an awful lot like the yellow beads, but they’re not yellow.
Maybe people intentionally mixed in orange beads with your yellow ones, and caused you to feel like you have to believe a specific way. Maybe nobody intentionally put orange ones in woth your yellow ones, but they’re all there now and are hard to seperate. Maybe you never learned what the yellow ones are so they’re all mixed up and just all the same to you, and the best thing to do is walk away for a bit, because you can’t seperate the orange from the yellow yet.
The point of all of that, was however you need to process, is ok. And I got a little long winded because, personally, I just really wished someone had told me it was ok to break down every belief, and decide for myself. Just myself. Without anyone else involved. And however I came out on the other side was fine.
Obviously I can’t answer this for you. And if you’re still willing to seek out where the truth is in the lies, there’s a lot of us on here rooting for you.
Thank you for posting here. <3
I love you very much and wish you peace while you figure all this out. You are blessed with amazing kids and sounds to me like they’ve got a great father already! Breathe in the positive light and exhale the negative stress. Try and search within yourself for the answers you seek. They come in many forms not just a book. Focus on what makes you happy, and expand from there. Being happy is love and love is what it’s all about. Once you can feel peace within, all those mountains that seem so tall just crumble. Many blessings to you and yours on your journey friend!
wonderfully said! ^^