There Is No Formula

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.” 

Mystery

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.” 

Y U No give me formula cropIs That All You’ve Got?

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.

No formulaWho Is To Blame?

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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13 thoughts on “There Is No Formula

  1. Oh… the name it and claim it verses.
    As I read the ones you listed I was just brought to tears, thinking… it’s not true. It’s not true, not unless I’m praying for the wrong things. Oh, it’s so disheartening.
    Pray for a husband. Nothing. Pray to be relieved of the desire for marriage/a husband. Nothing. And It’s not like I’m trying to trick God. (as if I could!) it’s just when one prayer gets no answers, I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I’m worn out. Fine, clearly You don’t want me to have marriage or children. Then please take the desire away. But You don’t! That’s not fair. Throw me a bone here God!!!

    Sometimes I just can’t wait for the day I know the answers. And sometimes that day can’t come soon enough. But it’s really really sad and pathetic to pray for death mostly because none of my other prayers are answered.
    (don’t worry, I’m not suicidal. I’m just exhausted and alone.)

    • Dear TRS,
      Yours is a suffering that many do not understand. It strikes at the core of our design and it is impossible to understand how we as women can be expected to endure it. I wish I had better insight to offer. In a couple of weeks I will be writing about Hope. Please feel free to write to me directly. You have been on my Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer list since I read your One Hour Photo post. I will continue to pray for you. Thank you for sharing your heart with me, Cindy

      p.s. your note was in my spam folder. I am sorry that I am just now responding!

  2. Ooh! I look forward to the coming blog posts mentioned in that last paragraph. They’re all questions I puzzle over until my puzzler is sore!

  3. Thank you so much for this post! Yesterday, I was, yet again, almost in tears during daily Mass trying to figure out what else I possibly needed to be doing in order for God to show me my husband. When I came back to my car and checked my phone afterwards, I got an email with this post! It instantly brought peace to my heart. But I always wonder about our free will versus God’s Holy Will and how our sins affect our future. I’ve always struggled with “What if this particular gent was ‘The One’ and because we did not remain chaste, I scared him away and now I’ll be alone forever?” I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming posts! And thank you again for the inspiring words.

    • Hi Amy! I am happy to know that this post encouraged you. I think it helps to know that we are all struggling with the same questions and that the answers are not easy. But, shared experience can give us a framework in which we can hold on to faith and hope in the Lord. I have added you to my Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer list. Thank you for your comment! Cindy

  4. I think there is a formula we should all approach in order to remain chaste and get into good relationships. Even God gives us commandments to follow as guideposts for avoiding sin and your blog does the same by showing young women the formula to avoid losing their chastity outside marriage. The veil of chastity is a great alternative formula especially for those ladies who seek bad formulas from elsewhere e.g. Think Like A Man Act Like A Lady. Some of us do need practical advise. I find your blog enlightening and I never miss a single post. This post is humbling on your part though 🙂 .

  5. This is one aspect of becoming Catholic that I feel grateful for–suffering has a purpose and is salvific. Who knew?! If we just look at the example that Our Lord gave us and how He walked the long road to the cross, it becoms so obvious. “Obedience to the point of death” is required for all of us. Whether that’s physical death or the death of certain dreams and expectations.

    For so long, I struggled with why this particular area of my life just was not working out like every other area. I still struggle with it, but at least now, I accept it as my cross. I have no idea how long I’ll have to carry it, and am prepared to carry it for the rest of my life if that’s God’s will. I no longer try desperately to figure it out. I can definitely relate to trying different strategies to find Mr. Right. Once I had exhausted them all, I realized how helpless I am in this area. Completely helpless.

    During adoration, after I pray, I like to read Fr. Caussade’s “Abandonnment to Divine Surrender” and ask God for the grace to surrender daily to His will. Will have to look into this other book. Thanks Cindy!

    • Hi Anon! I think the books by Fr. Caussade’s are the same but with 2 different titles. It is a classic which has helped me in hard times. Thank you for sharing. You remain on my Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer list!

  6. i really, really enjoyed this post. i am going to quote you in a blog post, if that’s okay. i think that if i had a dollar for every time someone told me to wait for God’s timing with marriage i could have paid for 5 weddings. it’s obnoxious. thank you for this!

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