Things have been going well lately. Have a decent job – my first, ever (started when I was 37) – dropped my medication level by a third, and in January found a girl who liked me – the first in about 10 years.

Then, late last week, the romantic potential went *phfftht*, and I’ve slowly sunk until this afternoon I’ve been thinking about slitting my wrists, literally. I haven’t felt this depressed for at least seven years.

Wrote some thoughts down about my life and relationship to God.

God has never spoken to me in an audible voice, or even through an impression. He speaks through my conscience and through the Bible – just like He does to everyone – but nothing directly to me. Sure, He might speak through the wisdom of friends or teachers. A devil’s advocate would say that could be merely human advice, and that’s so. I might have a thought come to me, but from plenty of past experience of acting on these, I don’t trust that voice. Sometimes I have, and the experience hasn’t been totally negative; other times it has. Obeying that voice doesn’t make me feel good; I only feel less guilty. It sounds like mine anyway.

When it comes to decision making, it’s the same. So I do research, think it through, for and against, pray, wait, hear nothing, consider some more, and then decide. I used to fast on a Monday, but haven’t done that for years now. Sure I see the blessings I have: being able to see and move and being healthy and have enough to eat, and shelter, and so on.

Why doesn’t God speak to me? (Are you going to say I’ve not been listening? If so, how do you know? Substantiate your accusation or I’ll thank you to keep your ignorance to yourself.) For the last twenty years I’ve not had any actual experience of God talking to me, or experiencing His presence. There have been times, when I’ve been depressed, poor, unemployed, lonely – often at the same time – I have literally screamed out to God, cried, sobbed and begged God to speak to me, to let me know I wasn’t alone; to de-create me, or at least let me die. I heard nothing; felt nothing; sensed nothing. Occasionally a friend would call at such times; sometimes not. I’d sleep and wake up, usually feeling a little better. No matter my feelings, joyful or wretched or in between, there’s still the silence.I believe God is there but I feel like He’s choosing not to speak. Maybe I haven’t been desperate enough; maybe I haven’t done the right kind of devotion; maybe I haven’t prayed or fasted or meditated or been silent hard enough or long enough. How much is enough? What kind of activity will get Him to respond? None, of course; even actions done out of faith don’t guarantee He’ll talk to us. He’ll act when He chooses to.

My relationship with God is a distant one. Oh, in the middle of bad situations I thank God that He is working for my best because (I believe) I’m saved, and so my best is tied up in His glory. But how can I be a brave warrior for a general I never see or experience? How can I rejoice in my salvation when no matter how much I’ve meditated or prayed or focussed on how wonderful or mighty or loving He is, any joy I feel drains away like I’m a colander. Maybe because of this…maybe because of that…maybe I need to do more of this or of that…after a while, you just give up, because nothing works. It’s like dieting. Even if I praise God, in whatever way, not to get anything but simply because of who He is, I still feel distant.

It’s a continuation of the rest of my life. My life is one of being adequate at best, but usually not good enough. I’m just trying to stumble my way through to the grave, staying just faithful enough, and avoid Hell, and slink in through the back door, and get started on washing the dirty dishes from the wedding feast.

I’ve had a few once-off dates (about four in fact) but nothing beyond that. Seeing all my friends get girlfriends, then get married; then to have met this girl and after almost half a year being told that her romantic switch has turned off, I’m feeling just a little despondent.  My subconscious psyche is telling me: failure. Loser. Worthless. Ugly. Stupid. Useless.

When I was growing up, I was often told I was selfish, that I never thought of anyone but myself; that I was useless or stupid. Not to mention being skinny, clumsy and useless at sport, unable to tan, unbelievably pimply, and wearing glasses. And despite having two degrees, qualifications in writing and editing, I once spent almost two years unemployed, trying to exist on the dole? Not once, but twice, long-term unemployed. And a couple of other times, for a few months. Surviving on part-time and causal jobs, It was only in the middle of 2010 that I landed my first decent job.

I don’t smile naturally or often. One girl, years ago, told me I needed to smile more; that I appeared too serious. But I think my face just looks contorted and unnatural. Because I’ve become used to being rejected and overlooked, I’ve become reserved and hidden my emotions. But sometimes, when I’ve tried to open up and become more playful, I’ve occasionally gone a step too far – like encouraging a girl once too often to get up to dance, or lifting her to her feet – and been publicly and loudly scolded or rebuked or simply shot down. So my heart starts to thaw, I take the risk, get burned, and my heart ices up again.

Several girls said what a great husband I’d make, and asked why I was still single. Such girls, of course, being both attractive and safely in their own relationships.

I try to not give way to self-pity, because that gets you nowhere. (If you’re thinking “Failed”, I know. You’re preaching to the choir.) But so, practically, does positive thinking: at every failure or rejection, the negativity is reinforced. It takes ten positives to outweigh one negative. The same for “telling yourself the truth.” It works but at a snail’s pace. And at almost 40 years old, it will take a miracle to reprogram my mind.

You’ll understand why I don’t expect much from God. Knowing who I am in Jesus doesn’t take away the hurt or change my self-image. Neither does knowing God is with me and loves me. I know it and believe it, but it affords me little joy in daily life. Isn’t the feature of a unique relationship that communication is two-way and reactive? If I didn’t have an understanding of epistemology, logic and empiricism, I’d become an atheist. Otherwise I have occasional flashes of comfort, but nothing abiding.

I’ve changed a lot since I became a Christian, but it’s been hard going. I used to swear a lot, be hateful and ready to despise others, full of lust and self-centredness. It’s taken decades of controlling my thoughts to overcome these, and I still battle them, and then I see how full of sin I still am, and I despair. And then how I’ve failed to find a partner, how I’ve failed to have a successful career – only getting a decent job recently, and so on.

I foresee how my nephews and nieces will see me as the uncle who’s not quite right; who’s got something wrong with him, because that’s how we tend to see older men who have never married.

By the way, if you’re going to say God doesn’t exist, or I need to pull my socks up and stop feeling sorry for myself, hope you never meet me when I’m feeling like this. From self-mutilation it doesn’t take much to turn on someone else.

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