My Good Life Is Pretty Dark

Trigger warning: This post may depress you.

Do you want “the good life”? I do, too, but I’ve clunked along. I have three particular doubts that tug at me: envy, untruth and hopelessness. If your “good life” plans are rough on the edges, I bet you have these doubts, too.

"The Thankful Cross" at a California debate tournament. Photo by Richard Wickham. http://www.rnrproductions.tv

“The Thankful Cross” at a California debate tournament. Photo by Richard Wickham.
http://www.rnrproductions.tv

 

First, the doubt of envy. I have friends whose Facebook posts are littered with glee. They seem to be attaining my dream with apparent ease, and a part of me gets sick when I witness it. Don’t be fooled when I up the ante. With such a large family, I have little trouble posting pictures of joy rather than sadness in our home. This isn’t to say that we don’t have our struggles.

My heart breaks. I struggle with complex family turmoil. I’ve fallen out of relationships and do not have solutions to how to get them back. The good life has not come as easily as with some of my friends. I envy those who do not struggle with the same heartache that I struggle.

But you know what helps? Viewing envy as a sin rather than a reality. It’s a switch in my judgment that I make often, bringing me back to contentment and joy. Honestly, if your family life has come easy, I couldn’t be happier for you. If I fall into a dark corner of envy, that is a fault of mine, not yours.

The second doubt, untruth, sinks in deeper. It is the most unmerciful of my three doubts. I believe in love for God and love for others, but my belief seems to have cost me so, so much. Could it be that love is a lie? Perhaps my desire for the good life is only my own self-centered, narcissistic fantasy. Maybe I did not want the best for my family; I wanted the best for me.

I hesitate to write these untruths off so easily. Untruths may be sinister—seeking only to destroy any hope for a good life—but they hold selfishly to truths I need to accept. For me, I’ve had to wrestle with legalism, the drastic consequences of patriarchy, and even shortcomings of good and wholesome paths like home education. These untruths carry some healthy benefits to the good life, but they can too easily be twisted into an ugly reality that can do great damage to a family.

That’s when hopelessness sets in. Is this my “good” life, really? It has not been easy. It has been hard raising 16 children, and I’m not even half way through. Envy is a sin, untruth is a rational lie, but hopelessness? Hopelessness is the most difficult to brush off. It leaves me disillusioned and afraid.

I apologize if this is a rather dark post. I’m not trying to let anyone down, just trying to be real. If anything is true about my darkness it is this: it usually hides deeper truth. If anything, my post will help someone else who struggles in the same way.

If that is you, welcome to the good life. I do believe there are answers in our darkness.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Roman Hammes

    Allow me to give you a virtual high-five for honesty and transparency, Chris!

    I have a sickness in me that wants me to hide my struggles, even with my closest friends – yet, when I am transparent, many times my friends will relate to some aspect of my struggle and even just seeing another with the same struggle can help.

    Post-struggle, looking back, I can see that those are times God has really grown me.

    For too long a time, I thought ignoring my heart and attempting to tend to others was a valid, even “Christian”, path. I found that I ended up causing tremendous pain in myself and those I had sought to help.

    Recently I had a fantastic learning experience that taught me I had to first tend to my heart before I could tend to anyone else’s heart. The care I can give to someone else is limited to the level of care I have given my own heart.

    I’m just learning, but I have found great truths when I talk with God about my negative emotions – why am I angry, why am I afraid?

    If I can recognize I am afraid, dig into it with God I’m amazed with what has been happening. A real life example: I took a week off of work, came back and discovered my coworkers had changed 2 key areas in a program we are in the process of delivering that I had written. My immediate reaction was feeling angry – that was “my code.” I didn’t like how that felt in my heart, so I stopped myself from expressing my initial reaction, was able to take a moment to look at what I was feeling with God. Underneath my anger, I found I was afraid of being seen as a failure, not good enough.

    I now recognize that fear of mine has no basis in others. God tells me I am not a failure, that I am good enough — even though I may fail, even though my efforts may prove not good enough; the results speak to a specific effort, not my worth or my self.

    Back to the example: my efforts had met the objectives, but more importantly, even if they didn’t, I am not a failure and I am good enough (psalms 139). With my anger unraveled to reveal my fear and my fear accepted and assuaged, I was able to look at my real focus at my work: I want our team to deliver the best program possible. Now, instead of fear, I am curious to see what changed. Curiosity led to admiration to the improved code and process for our program.

    I was even blessed with an observation by a coworker, who stated they had been worried I would feel my work was not up to par or even unneeded, but felt relieved that was not the case, that I should know they saw me as a trail blazer whose efforts provided the needed footing to make the code better.

    For many years, I have missed caring for my own heart:
    Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
    Proverbs 4:23, NIV

    I still cannot do anything without Christ, but Jesus never asked me to throw away my own heart.
    In fact, I can only perform his second commandment as well as I am loving myself.
    Sorry if I was way off tangent to your post, I just resonated with your honesty and wanted to share part of my journey with you.
    I’m keeping you, Wendy and the rest of your wonderful family in my prayers!
    God Bless,
    Roman

    • You’ve been so encouraging, Roman. Thank you so much. I had thought twice about publishing this article for similar reasons, but glad I didn’t.