lonlinessI am 56.

At this point in life I should be pretty well established in a career, in friendships, in purpose. i should be anticipating retirement in a few years. In essence, I should know who I am.

But…I don’t.

So much of my life has been spent “trying to become”. Whether it was a better father, a better Christian, a better son, brother, husband, friend. I desired to be noticed, to be accepted, to be loved, to be admired, to be looked up to, to be significant, to make a difference. Each time I began to pursue these things I was reminded by the small, critical voice that I will never be anything. I was told in my youth by a parent unable to love me, and peers that wounded my emotions and spirit with gleeful abandon, that I was a  failure, that I was unworthy, that I was damaged.

I have envied, and despised in my heart those that have “made it”, seem to have it all together with career, family, and friends. I have felt cheated, ignored, abandoned.

My life has been tossed between the waves of anxiety and despair. I have been enveloped in the thick, dark clouds of depression and hopelessness.

I built a wall of defense to protect my fragile and injured heart from more damage. This wall is covered with graffiti reminding me to never be too happy, never let people know the hurt they cause. pretend to be fine, act as if I have it together, never allow anyone to discover me, because I are less than others, I have nothing to contribute, I will never measure up.

And now I am older. I have squandered my life in so many areas, living in fear, self doubt, and procrastination.

This past Sunday in church during worship a fog of loneliness filled my heart and mind. While everyone else is singing of their perfect relationship with God, all that is going through my head was that I am such a f***-up.

I wish one could reset their lives, like one can reset a computer.

28 thoughts on “Wandering

  1. We have all believed the lies that by a certain age we should have arrived, accomplished, figured things out, know who we are…….The only thing wasted is continuing to believe that and thinking the journey has been a waste. Nothing is a waste. According to Scripture, God keeps every tear–to be able to wipe away every tear in our beginning. We are on a journey. No part of the journey is more important. And the arriving and accomplishing is always happening.
    I am transforming into a Christian mystic. Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr have opened my eyes to the fact the holiness is in the journey, not in the arrival.

    1. And I would whole heartedly agree Leanne, Our lives are lived to discover who we really are, how we fit into the greater story, and most of all to discover our unity with the Trinity, I too have begun the process espsoused by Nouwen, Rohr, Merton and St Francis. They all speak of a death that needs to take place within us, an embracing of the reality of who we are, the good and the bad, the dark and the light. I guess I am dealing with the dark right now, and is becoming a painful process. Continue to pray for me as I will pray for you.

  2. I am there, too. 59 yrs old…medical problems, depression, anxiety. My time is running out and that old legalism still creeps in “what have I done to please God” and fear meeting him. I know it will be soon, so panic steps in.

    1. I can understand what you feel to some extent, I spent many years, on top of everything else, worrying that I must please God. But in reality, the Creator is already pleased with each of us because of Jesus. Where I am now is secure in that unconditional love and grace, And it is because of that love and grace that I can wrestle with all this other stuff hindering me. My prayer for you dear sister is that you will know that no matter what you have done or will do, and regardless of how you are feeling there is one constant, and that is God’s love.

      1. Thank you, Mark, for the encouragement. My head knows this, it just has not seeped down to my spirit or heart. I just feel as if my life has been wasted and have squandered His Grace

      2. You can never use up or squander His grace. Every morning you wake up, every night as you close your eyes His grace and unconditional love surround you. His grace flow to us and through us as naturally as our breathing comes to us, You will be in my prayers.

  3. I am truly sorry that you are having such a difficult right now. I know how it feels to seem so far from God, and regretful of past inadequacies. I often find myself crying in church, and feeling isolated from those around me. However, I try to remember that their exterior is all I can see, and I may never really know what their relationship is with God. I remind myself that even though I feel that I have squandered gifts and talents at times, God always welcomes me- the prodigal son story speaks to how much he finds joy in those who struggle and return. My struggle is to allow myself to let God in, a remain present no matter how painful in the moment, so that healing might eventually be found and peace received that is not dependent on my status or “togetherness” as a person but as a simply beloved, child of God. I find that Amazing Grace is a song which speaks to me, and can provide some solace in times of distance. May you find the light of God within you, and be comforted.

    1. Thank you for your words of comfort, The story of the Prodigal is my story and depending on my state of mind I can be the prodigal son, the older brother, or even the father. Continue to pray for the inner light of God’s presence for me, and I will continue to pray for that for you as well. Peace,

  4. I am 57, and for the last year or so I have been inundated with regrets and what ifs and should haves……When I give them to Jesus I’m OK…then they creep back into my thoughts…..to everyone else I am a “success” and I have it “all together”, to me I am still a wandering, confused teen with a lot less energy to search for purpose.

    1. Hi, thanks for responding. I too having given these things to Jesus, over and over and over again. People tell me the past is gone, don’t live in the past, move forward. How can I “move forward” when regrets creep back in like a weedy vine and pull me back. So, I rip out the vine and give it to Jesus, again. Maybe this is the part of life where we learn to trust Him because He is the only One that can put up with us being stuck. I don’t know. In the struggle with you,

  5. At least I am not alone in thinking these kind of thoughts… I had my world rocked, again, just yesterday. I have no answers, either. The “journey” metaphor simply doesn’t work for me. The journey is what you put up with to get to where you want to be…it isn’t meant to be enjoyable…. How I also long for a “reset button” for life.

    1. I appreciate your openness in sharing. I am sorry that things for you are in a bad place. There are no easy answers, and that sucks really. Perhaps, as I think about this, maybe there are no destinations, like I had mentioned in the post but a series of “unfortunate events” that are suppose to lead into getting to know ourselves more deeply and if you are spiritual getting to know God more intimately, At least that is what I am telling myself today, May we find real peace in life,

  6. Dear Mark,

    At different times in my life I have been on your journey. After many years, I am in a pretty good place right now. I am a senior pastor of a mainline congregation and have been having a good experience leading them to see God’s vision for them and the freedom of inviting and welcoming ALL people where they are.

    I tell you that because you are partly responsible for my being where I am. Your journey has been an encouragement to me. Your reliance on grace, as well as exposing the law that is hiding in many theologies – especially evangelical theologies – has lifted me up.

    I do not know where or what God is calling you. But know this – your words and ministry through this blog have made a difference in my life – and I believe in the life of others as well. This is one way that God has called you in the past years – and I am very grateful for your sharing and grace filled words.

    Blessings to you my brother. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    + Peace +


    1. Thank you Rob for your kind words. They are like water in the desert right now. I am grateful for what God has been teaching you and where he has placed you in life at this point. May His blessings continue on you.

      I am not sure where He leading me, I have been studying much of Henri Nouwen, and others like him. He speaks of not denying the sadness and regrets of the past, and not to hide the dark and light that exists within each of us, Rather, he say that we should put them in their proper place and be at peace with who we are.

      My spiritual director asked me a couple of weeks ago why I can extend grace and mercy to others, but I cannot extend it to myself. Frankly I don’t know the answer to that right now.

      I do know that the last few months have bee very hard in terms of relationships, dealing with my past, and integrating the real me into all of my life, I thank you for your prayers and thoughts. Please continue to remember to lift me in prayer to our Great God of grace.

      Peace to you,

  7. dear Mark- Thank you for writing and sharing your latest blog- which strikes a chord with myself – I , too, am of a certain age and in these last few years have had a longing to change my career and follow my heart. Circumstances make that difficult, and, so, I feel stuck, waiting and waiting for that day I can truly “Live”. I liked what Rob wrote- your writing does help so many- you bravely share your innermost feelings when so many of us are too afraid of letting others know how we really are feeling and I thank you for that. I guess God’s timing is different to our own-in your very weakness, is strength- amazing strength- I am sorry you are feeling and going through this just now- you may think you are walking alone but I , and others are praying for you and most importantly of all – the God who loves you will not let you down when you need Him most. Out of your darkness, will come a new dawn of hope, a new understanding – already you are helping others in ways you would never dream about- your words, Mark uplift and comfort and help us realise that there are many in this world who are feeling the way you are presently.There are treasures in your darkness, bright jewels of a love that nothing can destroy. and I hope your find that little glimmer of light that promise of peace when everything seems to be falling apart around you. God will not forget, nor leave you to pick up the pieces yourself- He loves you with an ever-lasting love and holding on to you tightly – all will be well

    1. Thank you once again for your encouragement and kind words, I am learning from a marvelous author how, just as you have said, that the darkness within is actually a gift to be used to help others, Your thoughts confirm what I have been reading,
      Thank you too for continuing to speak words of hope and reminding me of His great love.
      You are truly a blessing to me.

  8. Wow. Your story is so similar to mine. I could have written what you wrote. I’m sure the exact circumstances of our lives aren’t identical but I can relate to the trying to be something. Feeling screwed up insignificant worthless. Being abused by a parent also. I am really struggling in my relationship with God and the despair and anxiety. The fear of not being accepted by Him is crippling. And I wonder why I just can’t be normal and healthy

    1. Thank you fro writing. I can and do feel yours feelings. I wish that I was able to give you deep wisdom as to the pain and frustration and worthlessness. I sometimes wonder if there are any answers.
      I am also very sorry for the abuse that you have experienced for one the the people that was suppose to teach you what love looks like.
      As far as God is concerned, if you are going to church, and your church tends toward evangelicalism you probably hear a lot about grace but experience something less than God’s grace. One thing that I have learned over the years is that God loves us with a unconditional love that is unequal to anything in earth that we can experience. It is the one thing that I am sure of, and it is because of the certainty of this love I can question, doubt, be angry, struggle with my faith and relationship with God because I know His love will always be there. You are completely loved and accepted by Him. If you believe one thing, believe that. It has been my anchor.
      Peace to you,

  9. You are living the life of an apostate. That would make anyone miserable!
    Having read your blog at length it is obvious you never were a Christian but have fooled yourself into thinking you are. You support all kinds of godlessness and evil and call yourself a Christian and mislead others. While alive, you can still repent! Otherwise you have nothing left but damnation and THAT should be your real concern.
    This life can be hard but more than anything it makes me look forward to what God has for me in eternity. You do not have that hope today. I pray it will come for tou by true salvation.

    1. Thank you for your concern, but I know that i am a born again child of God. Your assumption about me is incorrect since you actually know nothing about me. I don’t question your salvation in spite of your arrogance and judgmental attitude, I would expect the same from you.
      Peace to you,

  10. Maybe you’re not getting any better for your entire life because you have yet to be saved from your sin? 56 years is a long time for a real Christian to be miserable. I was set free from that years and years ago!
    If you keep handing vines to Jesus and they keep growing back, I think that’s evidence enough that you’re not joined with his victorious life. See Roman 6:4-6.

    1. I appreciate your thoughts, but you are mistaken. I was born again in 1983 and have grown much in my salvation. Because a person struggles in their life does not indicate that they are not a believer. To jump to that conclusion is somewhat arrogant on your part,
      Happy that you have found complete freedom and victory in your life, most Christian have not reached that mountain top.
      Peace to you.

  11. dear CA- keep on keeping on and what Mark said is true- God loves you unconditionally – always – thank you for sharing your feelings too x

  12. and Mark- you give us so much encouragement and hope- never doubt you are valued and a wee treasure

  13. Ps all people are entitled to their own opinions- what they believe – Jesus never promised a life filled with sun-shine without rain, in living our lives we can experience such pain and loneliness- no matter how strong our faith- it happens- and it makes me so sad to read words which are written not in a loving, helpful, caring way- but saying “you cannot be… no one knows what is in another’s heart- only God does.
    Therefore, you cannot judge nor think you know best… with loving thoughts

  14. …and , so are you and many others who write here…God loves us all Thank you for replying in such a gracious manner

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