I stumbled upon a blog today which left me wondering if my blog is misleading you girls. This other blog is owned by a single girl who (I think) is in her mid-30’s. She writes a lot about her singleness and is very honest about the painful things that others say to her about her current state in life.
Her posts took me back to my life as a single girl. Going to weddings alone. Returning home after disappointing dates. As I was reading her posts, I was able to feel in my heart some of those same feelings she was describing.
She wrote a post about the unhelpful things that married people say to single people. She shared that one thing that is not helpful is when married people present life as if there is a formula for getting what you want from God. These married people imply that “When you do A, B will happen.” For example, they say, “When you let go of your desire for marriage, God will bless you with a husband.” This statement is just as hurtful as saying, “As soon as you relax, you will get pregnant.”
Both of those philosophies are, in my opinion, crazy. They imply that there is a formula for getting what we want from God. One of the many things I love about Catholicism is that it does not put God in a creature-limited box. It honors and allows for the mystery of God and of His will.
“When God speaks it is a mystery and therefore a death-blow to my senses and my reason, for it is the nature of mysteries to confound both. Mystery makes the soul live by faith; everything else sees it as nothing but a contradiction. The darker the mystery, the more light it contains. The life of faith is a continual struggle against the senses.”
The Joy of Full Surrender by Jean-Pierre de Caussade
As a young person, however, I did not like or accept this aspect of my Catholic faith. I was frustrated by the fact that my Catholic Faith was ‘unable’ to an answer my difficult questions about God. For example, why do bad things happen to good people? Why are some people abundantly blessed while others suffer tremendously? Oh, and where is my husband?
The Catholic explanation of life seemed to boil down to “God is a mystery. Suffering is a mystery but it is part of God’s loving plan and it leads to our sanctification and holiness.”
I was not able to accept this. I thought it was so lame! My reaction: You people are in charge of understanding God and this is all you’ve got???
So, I went looking for a brand of Christianity that would give me an answer. I wanted a formula so that I could follow it and get what I wanted. There had to be a formula!
Name It And Claim It
I left my Catholic faith in search of a church with a formula. I was enamored by the ‘name it and claim it’ form of Christianity. I scoffed at Catholicism and wondered if they ever heard of these scripture verses which give us the formula for getting what we want from God:
John 14:13-14 And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 18:19 Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Isaiah 34:16 Search the book of the Lord, and see what he will do. Not one of these birds and animals will be missing, and none will lack a mate, for the Lord has promised this. His Spirit will make it all come true.
These scripture verses were like tokens for my desired-filled vending machine of life. Upon discovering them, I was mad that no one had ever showed them to me before!
But when I inserted the tokens, I did not get what I wanted. Instead, this is what resulted: The belief that I was not asking correctly and I was not seeking in the right way. I was not delighted enough in the Lord. The desires of my heart were wrong. My prayer life was off. I did not believe enough. I blamed myself. Then, I blamed God.
The ‘name it and claim it’ formula touted by some brands of Christianity was not adding up. For example, those that thumbed their nose at the Lord were getting married and having babies. They took no delight in the Lord yet He seemed to give them the desires of their hearts. Chaste women were remaining single for life despite their prayers. Faith-filled people who, in prayer, begged for healing, were dying of cancer. Where is the formula, God? How do I receive what I have asked for in prayer?
I returned to my Catholic Faith. The one with Jesus on the cross. The one that admits that God is not easy to understand and that suffering is salvific. The faith that boasts no formula but instead proclaims that God is infinitely good and we, His creatures, are limited in our understanding.
“…God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures…”
Catechism of the Catholic Church #385
God is a mystery. There is no formula.
So, given that background, is the concept of The Veil a formula? If you remain chaste, will you receive a husband? Is God really in control of all things? What about your free will? What about your potential future husband’s free will? I will address these tough questions over the next couple of weeks!
God love and bless you!
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