Limiting God by Projecting Human Traits
How do we find God in times of waiting? Are we unknowingly limiting God? Begin to discover answers others have found in this Paracletia video course, Find God in Times of Waiting.
Course participant G.R. replied:
Since 1996 I have been in debt. We’re not big spenders, but my earnings have always been much less than my expenses. We’ve had no savings. I was grumbling and feeling sorry for myself for many years. Then suddenly I realized something. For all these years no matter how little we had, we always had enough. No matter how much we complained, we still managed to pay our bills. The point is: What we wanted we did not get, but what God gave us was actually enough.
We still have been praying for years now for a breakthrough in our financial situation. We are waiting for God to answer our prayers. We don’t feel angry with him anymore, we don’t feel frustrated anymore. If fact nowadays we just praise HIM when we hit a crisis (which is often). But the feeling of sadness is something we cannot get rid of. Whenever we feel like taking a break and going away for a holiday, we feel very sad that we cannot afford it. Or if we need to purchase something, we think 3 or 4 times before we decide. We often get sad that sometimes we cannot make purchases we want. So how do we get rid of this sadness?
We’ve had many troubling experiences of where to find God amidst the problems in our lives.
I know how you feel. For the first 20 years of our married life, Ralph and I were always in debt (not deeply, but we never could completely pay of credit cards) and we had no savings account. We lived from paycheck to paycheck. We were not over-spenders. He simply did not earn enough and, as a freelance writer, I didn’t earn much at all, because we decided it was more important for me to stay home and raise the children. Like you, we could not afford to take the family on vacations. So we went on inexpensive outings that were within a few hours’ driving distance. Rarely were these little holidays as long as a week.
But it was enough. By the grace of God, we did not have any unusual expenses that would have destroyed us financially. Ralph was almost laid off from work once, but God kept that from happening. Only after we moved to Florida, which is a less expensive state than New Jersey where we came from, did we finally begin to pay off our credit cards and gain a savings account. And now, 20 years after that, Ralph has been laid off twice – and always God has protected us financially.
In both seasons of our lives, we have been generous in the needs of others and in our tithings to the Church. That’s what God wants from all of us: We are protected financially when we are willing to share what we have when God asks us to share it.
During the lean times, that’s when we learn detachment and we grow stronger in trusting God. Few people grow in detachment and trust during financially easy times. And detachment and trust are so important to our spiritual health (and it’s so important for our children to learn it, too) that God delays giving us the financial abundance he is very capable of providing.
It’s wonderful that you have already learned one very important spiritual lesson: With God, you will always have enough. He has indeed been protecting you and your family. Trouble comes when we want more than we need – this is where greed can infiltrate a Christian’s heart, as well as envy of others who are financially better off and the selfishness of clinging to our possessions instead of sharing them.
The breakthrough you’ve been praying for will happen — in God’s perfect timing, which is not when you want it but when he knows it’s best for you spiritually. That’s a good reason to be glad!
As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, “Place all your hope in the Heart of Jesus; it is a safe asylum; for he who trusts in God is sheltered and protected by His mercy.”
What struck me from what you spoke about was that “we project onto God the human traits we experienced of people”. That statement caught my attention and stayed with me the whole day. I totally agree with it. And after ruminating on it the whole day, at the end of the day, I came up with this: When we have experienced love from others, we project that onto God this human trait and can imagine that if humans can love me this much, God must love me a thousand times more or way beyond my imagination. So that is a good thing. But when I do not have good experiences of humans, then I must remember that God is way above that and that I cannot project this negative human trait or human limitation onto God.
I liked the first session on what I am waiting for. I do agree with what you said. But waiting for too long gets frustrating. For instance, my husband has been having an affair for the last 26 years. When the children were small they did not understand or know. Now our son is aware of his affair.
I have gone on many retreats and received counseling, but nothing happens. IN HIS TIME GOD DOES EVERYTHING. I am too tired.
Often, we get tired because we’re trying to run ahead of God. We’re trying to be God, deciding for ourselves what should and should not happen, and how fast. The Good News is: God has a better plan than we do. What we ask for and hope for and wait for isn’t always what is best.
Sadly, your husband has abandoned the marriage and his vows to you — a long time ago — and if the Church were to investigate it for an annulment, undoubtedly it would confirm that this was never a valid marriage, because your so-called husband has been unwilling to make a real commitment to you. It is therefore not a sin to get a divorce.
It is right and good and holy to pray for his conversion and repentance, but meanwhile, God wants you to do what is best for you and your children. Your children need to see that there are consequences to breaking the commitment of marriage. As they grow up seeing you put up with the sham and the abuse and the neglect, they are likely to repeat the pattern, either as victims like you or as victimizers like their father. The most loving thing to do for everyone – including your husband (who is no husband) – is to say no to his sin and stop it from being a sin by making him free to continue his affair without being married to you.
My advice to you is to talk to a local, compassionate priest about an annulment, for discernment about what I just said. If I am right, the Holy Spirit will confirm it and give you peace about it. Know that if you seek God, you will find God.
Meanwhile, I’m praying for you!