How can I feel God if I can’t feel anything at all?

I’ve gone to church all my life. I’ve attended services from many different denominations, but I grew up Presbyterian; conservative pres at that, and we’re definitely not the most forthcoming of people. There’s a reason why we’re called the “frozen chosen.”

That didn’t stop me from getting swept up in the excitement of music festivals and seminar, and the emotion of testimonies and alter calls. If it’s really possible to be “on fire for God,” I felt that. Occasionally. It’s hard not to be touched when 80,000 voices are signing hallelujah.

Upon returning to real life, that is, my real frozen chosen, Evangelical Presbyterian church, we were (i kid you not) always subjected to a lecture warning us of the inevitable fall we would have off of our spiritual high.

In a lot of ways they were right to warn us. The idea was to encourage us to not fuse faith with an emotional high. If your faith relied on an emotional high, what would you do in the low points?

On the other hand, I also grew up being taught that God has a physical (okay, spiritual) presence, and that if you don’t feel the spirit, you need to take a closer look at your faith. Other people feel moved by the spirit. Other people feel calmness, or a sense of clarity, or a sense of passion for the word or works of God.

I can’t feel anything, so how on earth am I supposed to feel the presence of an invisible God?

The problem is, I’m now in my twenties and I’m decidedly not an emotional person. I don’t get sad, but I don’t get happy either. I look back at concerts and events that I attended and try to remember the emotion I felt during them, only to realize that I haven’t felt that way in so long–I can’t remember how euphoria feels. I don’t remember what it felt like to have a spiritual high; to be connected to the spirit. I can’t remember the feelings of sobbing, begging, sadness I had a child when I pleaded with God for the life of a family member or friend.

Nothing excites me, nothing upsets me. Part of it is nature; I’m highly depressed and heavily medicated. Part of it is nurture;  I was brought up to be logical, not emotional.

When people talk about feeling the spirit now, I struggle with finding a point of reference. I can’t feel anything, so how on earth am I supposed to feel the presence of an invisible God?

Have I reached a point in my faith where my belief hinges on my ability to feel the spirit? No, if that were truly the case, I wouldn’t believe in a great number of things. Happiness doesn’t vanish from the world if I can’t feel it. On the other hand, how can I call myself a christian if I never feel the spirit? I’ve been taught that that’s not possible.

So what do I do? Is this a phase of life? Is this a side effect of medication or mental illness? I’m still a leader in the band at church. I’m still a youth leader. What am I supposed to do if my heart isn’t in it right now for the sake of God?

I think the only thing I can do is to keep on going. I was warned as a kid not to become complacent with my faith; don’t just go through the motions. But what if that’s all you can do?

I enjoy playing music in the band. I love working with the kids. I like discussing social issues through a christian lens, and figuring out where I can be of the most help in this crazy world.

Maybe if I can’t feel God right now, I can just keep going on and do Their works. Maybe that’s what we can do in seasons where we don’t feel God, or anything at all. If we keep our hearts as open as we can, and pour out compassion, empathy, and kindness, maybe the spirit will find its way back in.

If we keep our hearts as open as we can, and pour out compassion, empathy, and kindness, maybe the spirit will find its way back in.


How can I feel God if I can’t feel anything at all?

Look deeper than the “good ole days”

Every so often I get fired up about something at work and it always leads to the same conversation; me venting to the next cubicle over about the state of the country. And without fail, she (a boomer) always says with an air of hopeless resolve, “well, it’s not like it used to be.”

The problem is that she only focuses on the effects, the tangible, what she’s personally affected by. Aggressive driving for instance. She says that people drive much more aggressively these days. “It’s not safe. It’s not like it used to be. Nobody takes leisurely drives anymore.” That’s where it stops. Her analysis of the world stops with nostalgia.

I’ve been trying for months to try to get her to ask different questions. Not just what is different, but why it’s different, and more importantly, how did we get to this point? Have you considered that aggressive driving might be born from stress and anxiety? Your beloved leisurely drives have gone by the wayside… what has taken their place? Extreme productivity and time efficiency?

In many cases, these bad things in our society today are not the issues themselves, but symptoms of underlying problems. To continue with the aggressive driving example; local governments can change traffic patterns and reduce speed limits all they want, but at the root of the problem is driver aggression.

But we can go deeper. Why are drivers becoming more agressive? Is it because greater speeds and safer vehicles have unlocked some primal instinct? Maybe, but I suspect it has something to do with stress and how we as a society manage our mental health.

See, the Germans don’t have the same road rage problems that we have in America, and they can go even faster than we can. What does their society do differently? For starters, they treat their workers better. The kids go to school at a later hour. The drinking age is lower. They don’t eat nearly as much fast food.

It’s not perfect, but imagine this: what if Americans as a whole were less stressed, daily. What if that man didn’t have to rush to work every day, because his workplace valued him as a person and not a number, and understood that life happens sometimes. What if he wasn’t quite so worried about things going on at home; that if he lost this job that he hates, his children would starve and his wife would die of cancer without health insurance. What if he was taught from a young age that talking about his feelings was valid and essential for men to do?

Maybe this is stretching the analogy a bit. Try this; a recent study has concluded that high school students today exhibit on average MORE stress that the average mental institute patient did in the 1950s. Meaning that if this were 1950 (the good old days), all of our young people could be put away for “nerves”.

Something is broken. You’re right; in many ways, those were the good old days. But boomers, you have made the world we live in today. Maybe if your generation wasn’t so focused on growing the economy, they would remember that we’re all just people, not machines. Perhaps if your generation wasn’t so intent on gathering as much money as possible, you would remember that your young people are in debt that they will never climb out of. Want to build the economy? Remember the future of it; who will be taking care of you in 20 years. Remember the children born to parents who they hardly see. How can you bring back family values to a world where both parents work 50 hour weeks to put food on the table?

I’m asking, please look deeper than your nostalgia. If you want things to go back to the way they used to be, you need to start valuing people for their souls, rather than the monies they contribute to society.

Look deeper than the “good ole days”

I’ve been away for a while

During the summer, my brain felt like it was on fire with activity. I really began, for the first time in a long time, to think about my place in the universe. For a long time, I could not see my place in the universe; that if I disappeared things would stay much the same.

This summer, questions began to circle in my head, and I began to deconstruct the faith and social structures in which I was raised. Here I was, a queer democrat in an evangelical republican world. What was I supposed to do with all of the teachings I had learned growing up? Was I going to hell for being gay? Does God even care that I’m gay? Are evangelicals the only ones who get into heaven? What makes John Piper so special? Have I lost my mind because I don’t hate Muslims? Am I going to hell because I voted for Hillary?

I started this blog to sort through those questions. I find that putting my thoughts down in the physical realm helps me fully realize them.  During the summer, I had a lot of energy for this blog. Unfortunately, that energy seems to have disappeared. I’ve been sick for what feels like half a lifetime. I wake, feeling as though I had run a marathon in my sleep. I work, through a foggy brain with a memory that seems to have deteriorated.

My boredom used to turn into creativity. It’s how I wrote an album, drew a comic, and created music videos. Unfortunately, my boredom now puts me to sleep.

I had a few tests done to make sure my sleepiness wasn’t due to a sleep disorder. The doctors determined that it wasn’t, which leads me to believe that it’s just depression. It’s just the cloud of nothingness rearing its ugly head again.

Hopefully this won’t last long. I’ve got a wonderful girlfriend to help me through it all, but I’ve learned my lesson about relying on people.

Anyway, I’ve been away for a while. I’d like to set a schedule for posting, but this is going to have to be one of those blogs that goes inactive whenever I have a mental crisis or whatever.

Be good to each other.

Interior of a bedroom with a blanket and a window showing smoke and other houses outside

I’ve been away for a while

My 2017 resolution was just to survive the year. Turns out I did!

Setting the bar seriously low, folks.

But genuinely, my 2016 was so incredibly rough, and I couldn’t see my 2017 getting any better.

In 2016, among other things, I attempted to come to terms with my sexuality, made a halfhearted suicide attempt, met the love of my life–my first for everything, including heartbreak–relapsed into self harm, was sexually assaulted, was cheated on, lost 20 pounds, developed an alcohol reliance, began taking medication for depression. And on the first day of 2017, my heart was broken again.

I thought for sure, it would be a miracle if I survived the year, since I barely made it out of 2016 alive–literally.

But here I am, sitting at my desk in the year of our Lord 2018. I’ve survived.

2017 wasn’t great by all accounts. But I learned to fight for what I believed in. I found a voice for the issues that matter to me. I let a best friend go. I bought a house. I had no help in doing so. I’ve been lonely. My entire family moved out of the area. I had a major crisis of faith. I’ve been struggling with a sleep disorder. I slept with a long time crush. I entered my second relationship. I’m finally confident in my sexuality.

So what now for 2018? I would like my life to be manageable. Survival is a step below managing, and definitely far from thriving. Maybe I’ll thrive by 2019. Or 2020. For now, I’ll settle for managing.

I’d like to manage a relationship with grace and confidence. I’d like to manage my house with less anxiety. I would like to have a job that allows me to manage my own skills and time. I’m already managing my depression, but I would like to manage my sleep disorder in the same light.

Whenever I’ve set a specific goal list for the new year, I always end up disappointed in myself. So this year, I’m continuing the trend of being realistic. I just want to manage.

My 2017 resolution was just to survive the year. Turns out I did!

Heaven is not a place on earth


San Junipero won an Emmy.

There’s so much to unpack about this episode of Black Mirror. I’m certainly not the best person to critique the show, at all really, because this episode is the only episode of Black Mirror I’ve seen. Reason being, mostly, I don’t have cable.

My girlfriend, however, did.

Six years my senior, she held the 1980’s closer than I could ever. The colors, the costumes, the music… she would have loved the episode anyway.

The episode was extra special for her because at the time of the episode’s release, she was in her first lesbian relationship. And the two characters mirrored us perfectly.

It was spooky. She sat me down in a you-must-watch-this-now fashion and I didn’t object. Watching the episode was gut-wrenching, heartwarming, and ultimately just fucking sad. I held it together (barely) while she sobbed uncontrollably into my chest. I’m not sure if she knew at the time that we wouldn’t last, but seeing a mirror of our relationship played out onscreen, ending literally in eternity… we both knew it was too good to be true.

It was the painfully true elephant-in-the-room that neither of us wanted to bring up. Our relationship had always felt volatile and fragile all at the same time. Perhaps if things were different… if I was not from an unaccepting family, if she were not struggling financially, if we both weren’t fucking crazy… perhaps then we could have had our heaven on earth forever.

San Junipero was perhaps the happiest episode of Black Mirror ever to air. For us, and for many other gay viewers, I suspect, it was all too bittersweet. Heterosexual couples get their happy endings in countless stories. Lesbians get San Junipero; a bizarre alternate reality that can really only exist through the strangest of circumstances, and no matter how eternal the ending, it’s never quiet happy.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but there has to be something to the fact that literally every lesbian I know who has watched this episode has had the same reaction. My girlfriend sobbed into my shirt and deep down I think we both knew, it wouldn’t last. This wonderful, amazing thing, wouldn’t last. Because in reality, heaven isn’t a place on earth. At least, not for most of us.



Heaven is not a place on earth

A funny thing happened on the way to the dispensary…


This week I’m staying in Maine in the middle of nowhere in a much deserved week of solitude. As a parting gift, a good friend of mine (a FWB, lets not sugarcoat it) gave me the coolest pair of vibrant rainbow shoelaces.

Heck. Yes.

I’m not really one for rainbows, but I have nothing wrong with wearing something that loudly proclaims “HELLO I AM GAY; ASK ME HOW”, especially when going to bars, potentially alone. And I would be traveling mostly alone (see: solitude).

In order to arrive at the aforementioned solitude, however, I had to make a stop to see an old friend in the city of Portland. Portland has legalized the recreational use of marijuana over the past year and I thought maybe it would be time for me to finally try some, since I wouldn’t be breaking any precious rules.

I hadn’t seen my friend in over 5 years. In school, we had unspoken crushes on each other. So naturally, nearly the first thing I asked was: “how’s the weed situation?”


She said she could call up some people. I said okay, lets see where the night goes.

She told me she had a crush on me back in school. I told her I was gay as hell.

“I saw your laces,” she said. “They were the first thing I noticed when you arrived. Well, besides your face.”

A funny thing happened on the way to the dispensary.

Burgers and several beers later, we went back to hers.

“You know,” I said, “If you had asked me out in college, I would have said yes.”

She handed me a packet. “There’s not a lot in here, but there’s enough for one good high.”

Free drugs. Or maybe it was the beer getting to me. Maybe it was just her, standing there, reminding me of why I had a crush on her in college in the first place. But I felt bold.

“Can I kiss you?” I said.

She looked taken aback, but said yes, with the cutest smile.

I didn’t know I had it in me. I kissed her in the hallway of her place. I left in a position of power, saying goodnight and goodbye before I could make it weird. Who am I? Where did this confidence come from?

All of that disseminated quickly when I realized it was too late and I was far too tipsy to drive. Embarrassed, I walked back to her door and she let me back in.

“I just can’t stop thinking of you,” she said, laying on her back in bed, looking up at the stars through the skylight in her room. “You… kissing me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re great, I just wasn’t expecting it.”

“I’m not usually that impulsive,” I said.


“Well… we could continue it, if you wanted to, while you’re here.”

“I’m really not impulsive.”

“I’m not either.”

“Do you want me to kiss you?” I asked.


A funny thing happened on the way to the dispensary…

Social Tips for Introverts: Part II: Youths

Hello fellow introverts! Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you are the oldest person around? Do you ever find yourself surrounded by scary teenagers and you’re expected to *shudder* socialize with them? Not hip with the lingo? Don’t know what to talk about with these darn Gen Z’ers?

I have a solution for you!

Ask the youths: What would you do in the event of an apocalypse?

It’s nearly fool proof. Here’s why:

  1. Because it’s a hypothetical situation, everyone can contribute. There’s little concern of one kid dominating the conversation. And if you can take the time to listen to each kid, everyone will feel included.
  2. These kids have grown up with doomsday stories. It’s such a part of the collective culture of young people that they have a whole arsenal of ideas to incorporate into their hypothetical plans.
  3. You don’t have to do the talking.

It seriously hasn’t failed me yet.

Forced to socialize with younger relatives at family gatherings? Talk about the apocalypse! Roped into helping with a church youth event? Ask if they have a plan for a zombie invasion! Want to avoid talking about mortgages with the real adults? Hang out with the youths and fear no more.

And have a plan in mind. Just in case.

Social Tips for Introverts: Part II: Youths