Wonder-Couselor. God-Hero. Paraclete. Emmanuel. God has a lot of names, and that’s because He’s a lot of things. God is everything to us because loving Him is what makes us happy, and loving Him is our purpose. The closer we grow to God, the more we become like Him. But sometimes, without even knowing it, we can use God.
Because He’s so loving and gentle with us, He doesn’t force Himself into our lives; He invites us to come to Him. He lets us define our relationship with Him and how we interact with Him. And sometimes we make mistakes in that relationship, which may keep us in a rut or severely restrict how that relationship can grow.
As Pope Saint John Paul II said, The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s use. That statement is true because when you use someone, you treat them as an object, a tool for your implementation, and that’s even more degrading than hate. You can hate a person; you can’t hate a hammer. (I mean, maybe right after you smash your thumb with it)
Iâ€™ve personally used God in all these ways. It wasnâ€™t intentional, and it was a growing experience. But I think that now I’ve learned — the way I usually learn, the hard way — that God is not my punching bag, my therapist, or my scapegoat. And here’s why.
God is Not a Punching Bag
This is probably the easiest one to fall into. You know what I mean: when something terrible happens to you or someone you love, and you immediately start thinking, â€œWhy me, God? This isn’t fair! Don’t you love me? How could you let this happen to me? Why why why?â€
It’s easy to use God as a punching bag because we immediately want to blame something or someone when bad things happen. But if someone else did something wrong, forgiveness is needed. If we did something wrong, repentance is needed. And if a tragedy is beyond anyone’s control, trust is needed. Yelling at God does nothing. It’s like yelling at your nurse because you’re sick; it’s pointless. So don’t do it! Instead, ask God for help, and trust that everything is in His hands.
God is Not a Therapist
â€œHi God, so problem 1 of 52â€¦â€
There was a time when Iâ€™d go to the adoration chapel and lay all my troubles down before the Lord. I mean really lay them down. Iâ€™d spend an hour talking about all my issues and struggles, getting it all out of my system, and at the end Iâ€™d say a Glory Be in thanksgiving and take off. The only thing missing was a couch.
Some people might say that God wants to hear our troubles, and I think thatâ€™s true. But He doesnâ€™t only want to hear whatâ€™s wrong in our lives. Many of us know people who only seem to talk about whatâ€™s wrong whenever we see them, and we wouldnâ€™t classify them as friends; patients is a better term.
If weâ€™re going to have a relationship with God and not just use Him as our therapist, we need to talk with Him, not at Him. And we need to spend at least as much time thanking Him for our blessings as asking Him for solutions to our troubles. And in addition to both of those things, we have to be quiet and listen.
Our Heavenly Father knows all the things we need; we shouldnâ€™t be anxious about them. Instead we need to have the peace to develop that relationship with God, which will do much more good for us than ranting all our woes.
And if you need to constantly rant, go buy a journal. Or go see an actual therapist! It doesnâ€™t mean youâ€™re crazy, just that youâ€™re human. (And your friends might thank you.)
God is Not A Scapegoat
This final thing is perhaps the worst of all: using God as a scapegoat, as an excuse. If youâ€™re putting off doing anything because youâ€™re â€œwaiting on a sign,â€ youâ€™re making it Godâ€™s fault. If youâ€™re not doing something good because you â€œhavenâ€™t gotten an answer to prayer,â€ youâ€™re making it Godâ€™s fault. If youâ€™re â€œdiscerningâ€ but really just terrified of making a decision, youâ€™re hiding behind God and not taking action. Iâ€™ve done all that, and not always intentionally. Itâ€™s sometimes hard to draw that line in our lives between what God is supposed to do and what we’re supposed to accomplish.
Hereâ€™s a saying that put things in perspective for me: â€œWork like itâ€™s all up to you, and pray like itâ€™s all up to God.â€ Godâ€™s not alway going to write things on the wall for us. And sometimes He will work through our actions to answer our prayers. So until we do everything we can, we can’t blame Him for nothing getting done. (Makes sense, right? Yeah, took me over two decades to get that oneâ€¦ five points for humility.)
What God Is
The one thing God is and should be to us is our Father. And as Christ said, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.“(Matthew 6:8)
So next time you go to the adoration chapel, don’t bring your boxing gloves, a litany of problems, or an accusing finger. Spend the time getting to know our God that is so many things to us — and we will receive that peace of God that is beyond all understanding. I think we could all use more of that.