Is There Grace in Persevering?


#1

Haven’t looked at or posted here in a while. Tended to be a downer more than helpful, but here goes.

Is there grace in persevering every day, trying to do the right things, be the right person and husband and father, but feeling I’m failing miserably? Does “God give points for trying”?

I live life going day-by-day, no real passion or drive for much of anything, including family; not feeling the love in my heart as I should or used to years ago, even for or especially for my wife, which I know hurts her and does me, too; my feelings of intimacy are about zero, though she tries every day. Spiritually, I’m “just there”; have a hard time praying, and this time of year always is a downer for me as it is.

There is no passion for my job/work (I’m one of those who used to be his job); I gave up doing what I wanted to years ago because I thought it was what God wanted and my family needed, and I see or feel there is absolutely nothing to replace that. There is nothing to look forward to for the future. I keep asking God for a reason or if life is supposed to be this empty, but there has been no answer. I thought He was leading me to the Diaconate, which would have answered many past questions of why things happened as they did, but was not selected; so be it.

We struggle wih physical intimacy. I couldn’t really care less if we make love; I do because she is my wife and it is my duty as her husband, but it is neither physically nor emotionally satisfying or connecting. My head tells me I should want to, my heart and body have difficulty. We have followed NFP for years, and though we have for a number of years followed church teachings on sex, we did not always. I am split terribly on the whole Theology of the Body thing and do not agree with it, especially as it takes a toll on our intimacy, I feel. But my wife follows it, so there we are.

We have differed on raising teenagers, which causes strife. Issues with my son have split us as a family as well as husband and wife. It continues to this day as we try to keep one on track. I am struggling once again not to just put him out of the house once more, but it does not seem to fit well with the story of the prodigal son, but then, how much is enough when I feel the family and my wife and I are paying the price?

I keep trying to figure out why I feel, or don’t feel, like I do or should or used to. I resent my wife as I feel I have given up my career, our sex life and intimacy, my better judgement on raising kids and making decisions, and other things. I resent my son for the problems he has caused and continues to cause. I resent church teachings and even God sometimes, but also know that I have no choice but to continue pushing ahead each day, but with no hope of change or just no hope of anything being better, even with my wife whom God gave me. She deserves better than this. I feel I have given up being who I am or even being a man, no pride, no confidence, don’t know why she loves me. I am tired of this life and feel empty and prayer does not or has not helped. I try to pray that, God willing, I am not condemned to hell and can one day can ask Him “Why?” but fear I will stand accused of being one of “the lukewarm”.

And so, is there grace in persevering and failing and persevering? Does “God give points for trying”?


#2

First off… yes, there is lots of grace in persevering. God has NOT abandoned you and did not create you to live in misery.

But… wanting a happier life isn’t wrong either.

I know it’s a silly story often used in homilies… I’ll just cut and paste a version I found online… but it sends the right message…

It’s like the joke about the man who has been notified that his house is going to be flooded and he needs to get out of the house. He says no I don’t have to, God is going to take care of me. Then the flood starts to rise and a sheriff comes along and tells him to get out. The man says no, God is going to save me. So, the floods continue to rise, and he climbs on top of the house. A boat comes along and he’s told to climb into the boat. He says, no, no , God is going to save me. Finally, a helicopter comes along and they lower the net to rescue him. The man says, no, no, God is going to save me! Well, the man drowns and goes to heaven. When he gets to heaven he says to God, “why didn’t you save me?” God says, “I sent the sheriff, I sent a boat, I sent a helicopter, what more did you want me to do?” There is a point at which we have to take responsibility for our faith. When God sends a helicopter, you have to climb in.

Have you considered looking into counseling or therapy? Or talked to any doctors or psychiatrists about depression? Or marriage counseling?

There are a lot of ways that God can “reach out” to us, but it’s up to us to DO something about it… step up and make the change.

Your post (to me) sounds like someone who is depressed, resentful, stressed, and uninterested in life…

You don’t HAVE TO accept this this… there’s nothing morally or spiritually wrong with seeking help.

You’re in my prayers…


#3

Thanks, I’ll take all the prayers I can get, for my family and me.

Did the counseling thing for many years through the VA since a lot of what I was dealing with was military related in one way or another. But it did finally hit home that a lot of my feelings were and are a complete loss of self. I was on meds for years to handle one symptom or another of one type or another (docs still have not idea what some of it is). Point being I do not want to be on meds again, even for depression. Been there, done that.

I wonder every day how or if God is sending the helicopter. I don’t see or hear it, maybe it is my wife. But that is an issue in itself. More communication with her? I don’t know and believe I’ve tried that, but it only hurts her and will not change anything, so what’s the use?

Do you know what it is like to go through life every day when there is absolutely nothing I feel passionately enough about for a job? I do what I do because it is a paycheck and I have a family to feed. Or to feel that nothing is going to or can change anyway, whether it is my intimacy with my wife or a job or family relationships? Part of me has to admit I really have nothing to complain about - I have a job and house and family. So why is life empty? I wonder every day if it is my cross that God gave me that everyone here seems to talk about. But it doesn’t make sense. Does God want me unhappy or unfulfilled or lacking answers and struggling? I deal with it by burying it and not talking about it because it only brings pain. But then that brings distance and more emptiness.

Thank you for responding and for your prayers. God bless.


#4

God desires that we be happy with Him in Heaven, forever. Our goal is not this life, it is to do all we can do to help get ourselves and all those we encounter to Heaven.

Marriage is a vocation, and the purpose of that vocation is that you both help the other get to heaven. Parenting, same goal.

Have you looked into a group for spiritual fellowship, maybe cursillo.org/whatis.html?

Prayers here!


#5

There is much grace in persevering. Mother Theresa said, “God does not ask us to be successful, He asks us to be faithful.” Christ on the Cross looked to the world to be the ultimate failure. He couldn’t even save Himself. But that appearance belied the fact He was accomplishing the greatest triumph of good over evil. He asked for the cup to pass from Him, but He followed His duty as given by God in obedience.

You, too, are a man under authority. Your vocation hasn’t changed. There is something incredibly noble and manly about self-sacrifice. Trust me, when a man won’t do it for his family, he isn’t happy either. He can divorce his wife, buy himself a sports car and motorcycle, have girlfriends galore, and still lose himself completely. And when he looks in the mirror, there isn’t a man staring back, just a self-indulgent boy, and not even the ghost of the man he used to appear to the world. You don’t want that fate. Trust me. You would be completely miserable. Not only would you lose your own soul, but your family would be at grave risk also.

You, my friend, have chosen the better path. Because you have retained your self-respect. You didn’t throw the women and children overboard to save yourself. Take a bow. YOU DESERVE IT!

You know, Mother Theresa worked for the last 30 years of her life even though she doubted the very existence of God. The Dark Night of the Soul. When you labor for God not because it gives you the warm fuzzies, but because of the love of God and His Commandments and your love and obligation toward your wife and children, that’s when you grow closer to God. It’s a spiritual war, my friend. And it’s not fun while you are under fire from all sides. But there is a MOH in heaven waiting for you if you don’t throw down your weapon and run.

Remember Vice Admiral James Stockdale? He was a POW in Hanoi for five or six years. He addressed the class of '83 at the USMA with these words:

“The test of character is not ‘hanging in there’ when you expect a light at the end of the tunnel, but performance of duty and persistence of example when you know that no light is coming.”

Sir, your children are watching. Your son is learning far more from you than you realize. And someday he may credit your steadfastness with being the anchor that kept him from drifting out to sea completely.

As for your wife, you are probably her hero. Love isn’t about feelings. Love is a decision. And it’s a commitment you keep even when feelings fail. The successful marriages are the ones where people stayed even when they felt like walking. Feelings come and go. The real failures are the ones who follow their ever-changing feelings on to one new person after another. Your wife has stayed faithful to you and God even though she may feel you are disappointed with her. She keeps persevering too. You are both lucky. You cannot know the hell that occurs when one person decides to jump ship. Congratulations to both of you for not doing that!!

Marriages have highs and lows. Do not leave at the low point. Take your wife out to a nice dinner and raise a toast to her good qualities. Make her feel loved. The funny thing about feelings, when you behave nicely toward people, your emotions follow your behavior. You can condition yourself toward feeling warmer and more connected toward someone just by smiling at them and joking with them and feeling closer. Don’t give up. You both should be each others’ heroes for persevering.

Go flirt with her. Tell her how pretty she still is. She is probably just waiting for those words to keep her going too. She has watched friends I am sure whose husbands abandoned their posts because they got bored. She may be afraid you may do the same. Let her know you’re there for the long haul and you aren’t a quitter.

It is obvious she loves you from what you say. You have much to work with there. Understand her approach to child rearing is because she is a woman. She can’t kick a child out of the house any more than she can cut out her heart. If it’s any help, your son’s brain is still growing and will continue till he’s 23. Don’t give up yet! He needs a father desperately! Your head tells you to kick him out. Her heart tells her to be merciful. That’s why God gave children a mother and a father. Between the two of you there is balance and judgment on how to raise children.

Satan wants you to believe you are a failure. He whispers lies into your ears to make you want to give up. Don’t listen. Replace that noise with something good. When you get that message in your head that you have failed, say the Our Father mentally.

And quit beating yourself up. You still are “your job.” You are not leading troops anymore, you have a more critical mission. You are leading your family. Hopefully to heaven. It appears you are doing a valiant job. Bravo zulu. I salute your heroism. Carry on. :thumbsup:


#6

I hope this comes out right, I do not mean to be harsh in any way. Although, sometimes I believe it is REALLY easy to get wrapped up in our selves and our lives. I have been there and had some of the same feeling you have. I also have a teenage son that was driving me CRAZY for many years, doing teenager stuff. Finally, decided we need a break. Not being able to afford a vacation, our Church was planning a missionary trip to Haiti. I got the courage to sign my son and I up and a few months later we were climbing up a hill to a small village in Haiti to spend 2 weeks. I will tell you the time I spent there really made me refocus my life and opened my sons eyes to the world.
Now every time I get down on myself it is sooooo much easier to remember my experience and be thankful for where God chose me to be on this world!
I think you said that you were in the military and of course you may have been overseas to some horrible places. If that is true I think you will find a huge difference in going on a missionary, if you could take your son, it also might give him some insight not only to the world but also to some of the things you saw in the military (that is if you went overseas of course).
I know all parishes do not have trips such as this, if yours doesn’t talk to your priest or diocese, there is probably another parish in your dioceses that would be more than happy to have you come with them.
I will also tell you it is one thing to know there are people in this world that live in impoverished conditions, it is a WHOLE different thing to go and meet, work with, live with them.

Oh, and to answer your original question, YES there is Grace in persevering!!!
Go Well!


#7

I am at a loss for words. Thank you so much. You’ve hit much of it on the head.

Feel I’ve had a dark night of the soul for a long time; kind of stinks; I’m so tired. Think of Mother Theresa a lot when I heard about her struggles. Hard to believe. And Adm. Stockdale’s book is awesome, too. And yes, my wife’s an incredible lady; I’ve put her through a lot for may years, though she deserves better; somehow, she’s still here.

God bless you, sir. Charlie Mike (Continue the Mission)!


#8

I have to ask - please don’t be insulted but have you been screened for depression?


#9

Yes there is grace in persevering. And even joy but you have to be open to it.

I am going through treatment for my third primary cancer. The ticker currently shows a count for days after my last chemo, but there’s still biological treatment and tamoxifen and radiation around the corner. It ain’t over yet. Charlie Mike indeed.

I tell you what, it is scary to have the same cancer my mom did, and she died four years after diagnosis. I have no idea what my timeline is, I still save for retirement, but I can’t count on having a long time on this earth.

The ordinary duties of everyday life are extremely joyful to me, because they are so precious. Time is so precious. People are so precious.

Perhaps cancer is a gift in this way, the Orthodox call it the divine disease. But you have no idea what the future holds for yourself or your wife or your children. What if there was some horrible accident or illness tomorrow? Or some other hardship? What if your job stability disappears and you have a hard time supporting your family?

Don’t take anything for granted. I feel like Emily in Our Town, I want to scream it from the rooftops, the joy of ordinary moments in our daily duties…NEVER take anything for granted.

Be careful of this numbness you feel, because God can send you a spiky blessing like cancer to wake you up from your stupor. :o


#10

No insult. Been there before. Sometimes things come full circle again. Tend to want to get back to dealing with it without docs and meds like I used to be able to. Frustrating as life changes, eh?


#11

I’m of the mind that not everything that ails you can be cured by a pill, and sometimes the docs are clueless about the real issues.

Talking about perseverance and sacrifice… great book you might want to read (or buy for that aimlessly wandering son of yours for Christmas) “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell. No better story about what it means to live a life of sacrifice for others. It’s a true story too.

BTW, Searching, I’m a lady. :wink: But I’ve been called way worse than “Sir,” in my life, so no harm, no foul. :smiley:

Yeah, I’ve been told I write like a man. Drive like one too. :rolleyes:


#12

My sincere apologies. Not so much that you write like a man, but is just seemed the way you were relating to what I said and how you presented it. And thank you again; I’ll check out the book.


#13

Had another thought. You’re dead on about not everything can be cured by a pill. I went through several years of counseling withe VA, on a number of different pills for physical pain and issues and others for depression. Even they admitted all they can really do is treat symptoms, especially in my case (Gulf War Syndrome, which means they haven’t got a clue). I went cold turkey one day, went to a doc offering some alternative treatments, haven’t been on a pill since '02. Which is why I’d rather deal with things without meds, maybe without a counselor again; that is hard to swallow, no pun intended. Admitting there are problems is tough; admitting you may be there again is tougher. Trying to figure out why God is doing what He is doing and finding no answers is tougher still. Charlie Mike. And God bless.


#14

From the outside and not knowing a thing about you, I would say you’re burnt out.

I got that way myself about three years ago. It came from pushing too hard for too long.

Maybe all you need is rest, and lots of it. I’ll say a prayer for you.


#15

Searching,

I hesitate to give advice on this kind of forum because I really have no idea what your particular experiences are, but I do feel compelled to share a bit of my story. Maybe it will help, maybe it won’t, but at least you’ll know you are not alone in struggling.

I, too, have dealt with depression, although mine is post-partum. Motherhood was—and is!–a huge struggle for me on a daily basis. Yes, there IS grace in persevering, but there is no reason you have to accept misery to go hand-in-hand with the perseverance! Life is a huge gift from God, and personally I feel that accepting it with an Eeyore kind of attitude must be a tad bit insulting to our Lord. “Ho-hum, life is miserable, but I’ll just suck it up and keep going” If I gave my child a wonderful gift, and that was his/her reaction to it, I know I would be hurt.

I was one of those people too proud to seek help from anti-depressants, and for years my family suffered for it. One day my husband sat me down and told me, “You have to get help. I don’t deserve this, the kids don’t deserve this, and most of all, YOU don’t deserve this” Wow, when it was put to me that way, I really took it to heart. I made an appointment with my doctor the next day, went on an anti-depressant, and within weeks life was totally different. Was it perfect? No way. Do I still struggle? Of course. But once my brain chemicals were more balanced, I could handle it all so much more joyfully. I know plenty of people will tell you a pill doesn’t cure everything—and that’s the truth. But that doesn’t mean that a pill can’t do ANYTHING for you.

I think it’s wrong to give up and not keep seeking whatever help is to be had out there. Maybe you need to find a new doctor/counselor. Maybe you need to try a new anti-depressant. Maybe there is some kind of alternative therapy that would benefit you. And is there possibly a job you could find that would both support your family AND give you some fulfillment? Why settle for less when there is a whole wide world out there? LIVE life.

I also want to add that along with any anti-depressant/therapy, you need to make sure you are eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise. I try to exercise every day because it helps keep those brain chemicals balanced.

I agree with the poster who said that having a possibly-terminal disease can be a huge gift. I have a chronic disease that has been one of the biggest gifts in my life. When I was at my sickest, I never would have believed it was a gift, but here I am :slight_smile: If nothing else, perhaps you could volunteer for an organization that helps those more needy than you are. I find that nothing pulls me out of a period of self-absorption better than getting out and helping those less fortunate than I am.

Perhaps none of this applies to you, and if so, I apologize for wasting your time. But I did feel the need to write you and tell you that maybe your life doesn’t HAVE to be this way. I think your family deserves your very best efforts to find SOMETHING to help your depression, and maybe THAT is where you really need to persevere. For some of us, the road to finding that help can be long and twisting, but it’s worth it. Your family is worth it. YOU are worth it, as a child of God.


#16

Maybe volunteering somewhere would help. I think about it, not feeling called to any one thing. Oddly, this time last year - Christmas Eve, to be exact - I thought God was calling me to be a deacon, but was not selected. Thought it may well be a sickness a few months ago the way I was feeling. Who knows?

I do wonder if this is what God has in mind for me for the rest of my life and I am just supposed to suck it up and go on. The question is always asked: “Does God want you unhappy” or “Do you think God wants you unhappy?” I sometimes have to think, yes, He does. It would all be easier to handle if I knew, if I knew why, if I knew if there was a reason. But with no answers for years and years, and some things just being the same (like problems with teenagers that affect my wife and me), I don’t see a whole lot of hope for anything, and honestly don’t feel like I deserve it either. Kind of contradictory in a way, cannot think of the right word.

I was thinking of your post all weekend, wondering if i should just go to the doc and get meds. But then if God wants me this way, should I? And doing so has other consequences - it affects jobs and insurance. Drives me nuts. Better off if I don’t think about things sometimes, but then I don’t talk much which drives my wife nuts; she’s frustrated because she doesn’t know what to do, and I don’t want to say anything to hurt her, but I am by being this way. How does the song go? “How Far is Heaven?” I’m weary of this life down here. Not planning on going anywhere, but it stinks sometimes.

Thanks for “listening”. A Blessed Christmas to all.


#17

Have you been screened for biochemical depression?


#18

I just saw this, and have a recommendation for part of your problem. Have you ever tried Retrouvaille? It is a program for troubled marriages, it is not counseling. I think it could really help you and your wife reconnect with each other and help your relationship. I know it helped us tremendously. www.retrouvaille.org


#19

I still think the OP is simply BURNT OUT and needs a good long rest. Been there, done that, invented the T-shirt.

You can’t give what you don’t have, and maybe this is your body and soul’s way of screaming and pleading to get the rest you need.


#20

I deal with depression as well. Somedays I deal with it better than others. I suffer and my family suffers. I try to keep thinking “keep your eyes on the prize”. Heaven. It’s SOOOOOO hard, not trying to oversimplify it or imply you just need to flip the switch. I know that if you could, you would. Who doesn’t want to enjoy their family & not endure them. I pray for God to lead me to His will in my life and then I pray that I will DESIRE whatever it is He has for me. I’ve just recently found a counselor that recommended I read *Phil 4;6-8

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.*

I will pray that this may bring you some peace for this coming Christmas.

God Bless You and your family!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.