The Struggle

Tue, Feb 23, 2021 6-minute read

This is a heavy post. You’re more than welcome to skip it in favor of something more lighthearted in the future. We’ll get back to that, I promise!

I have been in a glorious, painful, frustrating, tiring funk for the last two weeks. It’s a funk that I just can’t seem to shake. Maybe some time to myself will shake it? Nope. How about a night out with friends? Temporary. How about if I haul my family to the beach for a much needed change of scenery? Still nope, though there are days to go yet. This funk has stuck to me like the sticker residue on a book you really don’t want to mess up further. Despite continued attempt to get rid of it, it remains.

Naturally, I start to seek some wisdom on it. Why is this funk glued to me? At best, I seem to get a little reprieve by distracting myself with work or play. A little time doing something that occupies my whole brain and not just part of it. That seems to get it out of my way, but only for a limited time. Once by myself, the funk worms its way back in. It has no name, and no obvious place of origin. It just sits in my psyche somewhere, occupying space and trying to tell me that I’m not “happy.”

What does that even really mean? “Happy.” All my needs are met. I have a wonderful kid, an amazing wife, a job that not only pays the bills, but a job that I love. That seems to be about as much as a person could ask for these days, all things considered. The more I soul search, the more I come up empty handed on a reason why this funk has grabbed me so.

So let’s think on other things for a minute. Let’s take a stroll into Stephen’s mind and see if we can’t trudge up something that has otherwise gone unnoticed and can only be sussed out by the written word. That old friend that I turn to at moments when it’s quiet and I need to exercise a different half of my brain. First thing out of this stream of consciousness is that my social circle has shrunk a dramatic degree over the last year. This isn’t unique to me in the least, but maybe it’s the thing that I think I have handled but just isn’t settling right. I’m not an extravert in the truest sense, but I do get energy from people around me. I love my pandemic circle to the moon and back, but the lack of extra interaction has really drained me. Ooh, that’s good. Let’s explore that.

I’m a talker. If you’ve known me for more than ten minutes, you’ve probably figured that out. I have a lot to say. I tell stories about things I heard, about my childhood, about places I’ve been, about movies, music, art. I tell anyone with ears to listen the things that are on my mind. I don’t start with a complete thought. I start with one that is barely put together. I start with the verbal equivalent of a pile of Legos and I let you watch as I try to stack them neatly into something worth your time. I can’t tell you whether I succeed, but that’s what I do. Currently, my poor wife is the one stuck with this aspect of me, and she’s the only one I get to speak with on the regular. Now, mind you, she loves me and my stories, but having listened to a six year old talking nonsense all day leaves her less energy for my nonsense. Totally fair. Yet there I am, with nowhere to go and no one else to talk to, and now, rightly, feeling like I need to just hold that in for a bit so as not to drive her completely bonkers.

Maybe that is it. Maybe it’s the social interaction. Why stop there though? Why don’t we dive a bit deeper into what makes me tick, and which cup might not be getting filled. I am a man of many cups.

I believe in God. I believe in a savior named Jesus who came to earth to ease our pain and relieve us of a life of guilt and discontendedness to show us that we are loved, and all we must do is accept the love that’s offered to us. Now, I would like to believe that maintaining a good relationship with someone who quite literally died for me to be a relatively easy thing to do. I mean, if I can call up my mom to thank her for a birthday card, I ought to be able to ring up Jesus and say, “Hey, man! Thanks for forgiving me of all the things that I missed the mark on so that I can be with you some day.” But that’s not always easy. It’s not always at the forefront of my mind. I’d venture to guess it’s not easy for a lot of people to not only trust in an invisible force guiding your life, but to also talk to it on the regular.

I have waves of being in it. Waves of feeling like all the bits and pieces that make me up are in perfect alignment with where I’d imagine God wants me to be. Right now, I feel completely out of whack. I know church is not a building, and it’s attendance is not a requirement for a solid relationship with the Creator, but it sure does help. I do miss it. I miss seeing friends, getting hugs, spending time with others, and singing together. I think I’ve figured out that there is a part of me that needs it.

I guess I’m just feeling very out of control of my world, and without the proper bits of me in their proper place, that’s leading me into a pretty bad corner. Not a place where anyone should worry about my overall mental health, though. We’re all fighting our own battles on this ship of doom, and I don’t even want to pretend that my situtation is the worst. I have it pretty great, all things considered. But I’ve told other people this, and I need to tell myself that just because other people are struggling worse doesn’t mean your struggles aren’t worth discussing. Everyone has their normal, and when that normal is thrown off, it messes with them.

Well, this has been a good exploratory blog post. I’m not sure I came to any conclusions, but I got to write, and I got to let some things out. All I really know is that the ingredients for happiness and contentment are here and with me if I can figure out how to wrangle them all. I can’t change this situation, but I can certainly work on my attitude. Some days I’ll get it right, some days will feel like the wheels are falling off the car. I guess that’s just life though. A cycle of storms that have you either sinking beneath the waves, or proving to yourself that you have the resolve to stay afloat.

I think I have the resolve to stay afloat, and if I don’t, I have a precious life raft of Jesus, family, and friends ready and waiting when I need it.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash