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JQ Catholic wrote:

Hi, guys —

And thanks in advance for your response(s). I'll try to be as brief as possible.

After a fairly religious youth, and nearing what I know now to have been the beginning of my discernment for the priesthood, I completely turned away and left the Church for 35 years. Seven years ago I returned. My love of God is much stronger and deeper now than it ever was before, and I know that I will never leave again. It's a truly beautiful time of life. However, I'm struggling to work thru several aspects of life that, perhaps not coincidentally, began with my return to the Church.

During the years I was away from the Church, God was never fully absent from my thoughts. I always struggled with the question of whether:

  • God wants us to be in control of our life and strive to achieve success, like the parable of the talents, or
  • we should relinquish all control and see where He leads us.

I opted to take control. Success in the business world was very important to me. Promotions were frequent, respect was high, and I felt great accomplishment.

When I returned to the faith, I committed to change course and let God take control. Since then, it would be polite to say that my business world has turned upside down. Now, as I find myself nearing retirement age, it's never been worse.

Although employed, for the last 7 years, immediately after I committed to turn control over to God, promotions became nonexistent, and I'm disrespected by the company that acquired us. I have tried to change jobs, which used to be easy, but I have failed job interviews and new opportunities in almost every way imaginable and . . . never the same way twice. I do believe I'm locked right where I am for a reason.

There are four possibilities for this period of my life:

  1. Satan is punishing me for turning to God and trying to turn me away from Him.
    (that won't happen).
  2. The Bible teaches that God punishes his children out of love.
  3. God could be showing me what's really important and helping me grow in the way He wants me to grow.
  4. All of the above means nothing and it's just what happens as I near retirement.

My daily attitude and response to these setbacks and humiliation varies greatly depending upon which of the four objectives listed above are in play.

I'm also trying to tie these situations, and my belief in my own self-esteem, which has remained high, into the concept of eliminating self-love and trying not to disrespect those who are currently above me. I hope it makes sense that these two concepts tie together nicely.

Therefore, my question not only revolves around how to interpret the forces at work during this time in my life, but how to balance the concept of eliminating self-love while maintaining self-esteem.

Your thoughts and feedback are greatly appreciated.

JQ Catholic

  { How do I explain the forces at work in my life and eliminate self-love while keeping self-esteem? }

Mike replied:

Dear JQ Catholic,

After reading about your life's journey in the e-mail you sent us, it appears your journey is similar to mine.

The answer to your question is not based on Church doctrine or official teaching but rather [theological/personal] opinion which is fine as long as it is faithful to the Church.

Let me give you my two cents:

You said:
I opted to take control. Success in the business world was very important to me. Promotions were frequent, respect was high, and I felt great accomplishment.

First, there is nothing wrong with achieving goals in life as long as one acknowledges they are the Lord's works, working through us.

Look at what Mr. Trump has achieved. There is a difference between a healthy Capitalism and an unhealthy, overboard Capitalism. The abuses of the latter are what recent popes have commented on. It's great that you received promotions and had great accomplishments.

Congratulations!!

Where we can get off base is when we think these marvelous accomplishments were done on our own . . . without His Help.

That said, now, there has been a change in course in your life.

  • What do we make of this?

The Lord respects the free will choices He has given to all individuals who He has created in His Image and Likeness.

That said, there is God's Permissive Will and his Divine Will. In a previous answer I said:

If people make bad choices that hurt other people, the Lord's permissive will allow it:

  • because he respects each individual's free will to do dumb things, but
  • will always pull a greater good out of our dumb, immoral choices.

We may not immediately see the greater good being pulled out of our poor choices, but it will happen over time.

Unlike God's permissive will, God's divine will happens when we follow His internal calling within us. This is sometimes called the nature law. It's that thing that tells us what is right or wrong, from within us, without anyone telling us. For those who are unsure of what God's divine will is for their life, the best way to discover it is by having a daily prayer life and living the sacramental life of the Church.

This is the key to answering your question. The Lord may be calling you to discern a new vocational calling.

To my knowledge in the history of Christendom, we have had many saints who had various occupations in the course of their life.

Through prayer and discernment, we can figure this out.

  • Visit an Adoration Chapel, say a Rosary and, somewhere in between, just say, OK Lord, what is the next step in my life?
  • Where are you calling me?

Referring to the possibilities, you mentioned:
There are four possibilities for this period of my life:

  1. Satan is punishing me for turning to God and trying to turn me away (that won't happen).
  2. The Bible teaches that God punishes his children out of love.
  3. God could be showing me what's really important and helping me grow in the way He wants me to grow.
  4. All of the above means nothing and it's just what happens as I near retirement.
  1. Number 1: No one will doubt that that bastard satan can be a pain in our lives but never think that the Lord can't annihilate anything he is doing in our life. If the Lord' Permissive Will is allowing this, He is just testing our love for Him.
  2. Number 2: In this sense, God's punishment is done for a purification of our souls . . . a redemptive suffering.
  3. Number 3: Yes!
  4. Number 4: Not likely.

You said:
Therefore . . . how to balance the concept of eliminating self-love while maintaining self-esteem.

Like I have said in previous answers, we will always be struggling with the sins of the flesh, until we are 6 feet into the ground. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

405 Although it is proper to each individual, (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513.) original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence.

Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

Even Jesus understood this when he said,

So just do the best you can and, if you plan to receive Holy Communion, go to Confession before going to Sunday Mass.

That's my two cents; my colleagues may wish to add theirs.

Mike

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