My anger with God comes from not being able to escape from God’s presence. I feel too much God and it is overwhelming. It is difficult to strike a balance between living a daily routine of food preparation, household chores and driving between the kids’ schools when I feel constantly called into prayer and study. To serve God sometimes feels like a burden because it means having to deal with the guilt I feel if I have ignored my family in order to be with God. It is frustrating trying to figure out how to be with God while with my family at the same time.
I work a lot on active prayer or active contemplation — the kind of living prayer that is learning to recognize household chores as means of divine adoration through understanding that family and house are gifts, blessings and doing the tasks necessary to maintain them are acts of love, charity and kindness. I have been trying to see the laundry as a method of prayer for 15 years now but I admit I continue to struggle because I prefer meditation and reading Scripture to anything offered by Tide.
How do I manage grocery shopping and bill paying with a sense of purpose and gratitude that transforms those tasks into sacred offerings? It is the tension between the variety of gifts given by the Spirit because there are truly some people for whom acts of service are the most comfortable manner to be hospitable and loving. It’s just not my gift. How do I take the gifts of scholarship, writing, contemplation and mysticism and lead a life worthy of such gifts while still honoring the vocation of wife and mother when that vocation can be interference?
It’s all about shifting, adapting, transforming and being patient enough to remember that there is a time for everything, a season for laundry and a season for ecstasy and study. These gifts lead me to into certain confrontations at times with others about who God is and what God wants. To be used as a divine instrument is to realize how much I empty myself so that the Spirit can enter, how much of what happens is not about me. God chooses and God acts regardless of my weaknesses knowing that my strengths will serve a divine purpose.
On the other hand, the fall out of these confrontations are very personal and very much about my own weaknesses. It is almost impossible to shield myself or feel any protection from God against the criticisms and spiritual attacks that are fostered against me as a result of my acting on what I think is something called forth from God. This distinction makes me angry with God. I want God to save me from emotional violence and the loss of friendships if I am following a divine inspiration. Otherwise I begin to think that I discerned incorrectly and made a huge mistake. Then I despair of being able to talk with and listen to God. Then I feel teased by God and that makes me angry.
My anger with God does not result from a sense of abandonment but from the pressure I feel from the expectations God sets for me. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way and that many believers struggle with how to best use their gifts in worship and praise of God. There are many times when I wish my relationship with God was one of a gentle lamb and shepherd but I ended up instead with a whip cracker and contention. I am resigned to be fist shaking at God but always saying “yes” in the end.
In times of calamity it's easy to become angry with God. How do you process your faith in times of tragedy? This will be the topic of our next Coffee Talk, which will be at 10 a.m., May 4 at Coeur Coffehouse. McLean is a panelist.
Colleen McLean is a life long Roman Catholic with a few pagan adventures along the way. She has been active in lay ministry in two states and four dioceses.