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Lacking Joy

Posted by Bill Wagner on


Have you ever felt invisible? Seen, but not in the manner you desire? Perplexed, convinced that you must be doing something wrong? This is exactly how I felt recently. Regardless of how hard I tried to please those around me, I was unsuccessful, and that was confirmed by a look of anger, frustration, and disappointment. It was my fault, I must have been doing something wrong, I must try harder!  

Moments of joy come and go, but never take root. I chase after those moments, trying to manufacture the joy experienced. What can I do to bring it back? I must have done something wrong to make it leave.  Is my anxiety the source of the lack of love that I see around me? Are my fear and insecurity the source of the (perceived) lack of love I receive?  

This is my narrative—for both the child that I was, and the man I am now. I am exhausted by it, tired of narrating the same story over and over again. This struggle cannot be seen by those looking in, but my struggle is real, it is inside me.  

Exhaustion turns into anger, frustration and disappointment, which is usually aimed at myself, but can be aimed at others. My narrative is a hamster wheel that continually spins.  Anger, frustration and disappointment are what I see and how I feel.

Copyright: Katarzyna Białasiewicz  / 123RF

What does it mean when we feel we are not seen for who we are, or not truly known? It is a slippery slope, as then we begin to believe that God does not see us either—and that is exactly where the enemy wants us to be.

In my lowest moments, my times of doubt, I am tempted to take what I feel should be given, in order to be seen. This provides a momentary release, a temporary high, only to be met minutes later by the familiar look and feelings of anger, frustration and disappointment.  

I write this with the desire for the narrative to change. The actions I take will speak to whether my desire to transform the way I think, act and speak is intentional.  

My desire for change to be easy results in my inaction. ‘Easy’ requires little effort and is exactly what the enemy tells me I deserve. ‘Easy’ would be nice, but simply masks the narrative within. True transformation is impossible without intention and effort. 

It doesn’t always seem fair that I have to be the one to change, and I often wonder where God is in the midst of my struggle. When I am focused on unfairness, I lack an intention to change—as the voice I am listening to is not God-given. 

Moments of joy are sporadic because I don’t believe I deserve it. But how can I believe I deserve something that I cannot even recognize? How can I recognize something that I have not been taught exists? How can I hold something as truth that I don’t know exists? I recognize that I have equated joy with being seen, but is that truly what joy is?

More importantly, I don’t know much about joy, but I desire to know more of it and most importantly, that I deserve it. Not as a result of what I do, but because God desires this for me.  In order to see myself as God desires, I feel like I need to close the book on the past, understanding how it has helped make me who I am, but also understanding that it does not have to define who I am as I move forward.  

A prayer for this season:  Heavenly Father, when I feel empty, allow me to push forward with a humble heart for I know that you are with me, keeping me safe and secure. You see and know what I am really like, yet you choose to keep me securely in your treasure pouch. For this, I am grateful.


Bill Wagner loves being a husband and father. He is blessed to walk side-by-side with his wife, Kristy, raising their three children, Samuel, Graeson, and Emily. Bill was born, raised, and educated in upstate New York, and relocated to the Bay Area in 2008. He is a headhunter by day, working from home and building relationships with corporate tax & finance professionals here in Silicon Valley. He took a leave of absence in 2012-13 to deepen his walk in ministry; he is now focused on bringing his faith outside the walls of the church and into his work.


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