Sometimes a person is more angry at God than doubtful of his existence. When this happens, we have to respond accordingly. Joe Heschmeyer explains how to do this on Catholic Answers Live.
Caller: I’ve been with my fiancée for eight years, and she believes in God but she’s angry with him. Like, I’m trying to get her to go to church and get involved with the community, and she was born and raised non-denominational and I was born and raised Catholic. First I need to bring her back to God and to realize the truth in God before I could even…see, I’m in a tight spot and it’s a lot, and it’s hard to explain.
Joe Heschmeyer: I think it’s good to do a few things: first, like I said before, acknowledge where there’s common ground. Like, it’s cool that your fiancée is seemingly ready to acknowledge that God exists. Like, if she’s angry at God, that’s at least a good sign that she knows there is a God. And so that may be obvious, but pointing that out in a way that she recognizes, like, to her, can actually be really healing, because it helps her realize maybe where she is. And again, like, there’s a lot of details I don’t know, so some of this may be inapplicable.
But the other thing I’d say is: give space for the woundedness and the wrestling with God. One of the things that I think is really beautiful is the idea of the Church as the New Israel. You know, so the idea is that God creates his people Israel, and it’s fulfilled in the Church. Well, why is that so cool? Well partly because, where does the name Israel come from? It’s the name given to the patriarch Jacob after he spends all night wrestling with God.
And so the thing that makes that so beautiful is there’s an invitation in Scripture to wrestle with God. And if you read the Psalms, if you read the way people like Jonah talk to God, they let him know when they’re mad at him. And the beautiful thing about that is: (A) God can take it, right; (B) she’s pouring out her heart to God; and (C) God alone can heal her. You can’t heal the wound that she’s got there. He can do something cool with the wound.
What I mean by that is, like, when Jesus rises from the dead after being tortured and killed, undergoing this apparent abandonment by God the Father, right, he doesn’t just wave the wounds away; he shows his glorified wounds to the apostle Thomas a week after Easter morning on Divine Mercy Sunday. So what does God want to do here in these places in her heart that are wounded? And that sort of thing, that is a thing to pray for, and really maybe encourage her in this idea that God knows she’s wounded. He cares about her, he cared about her when it happened, he cares about her now, he he didn’t really abandon her, and there’s an invitation there for her not to abandon him but to keep that conversation going and kind of to see where it goes, you know?
And then the final thing I’d say is: one of the most persuasive, one of the most convincing things you can do in a case like this, where it’s not some intellectual objection to God, there’s a real emotional wound, is sharing the ways God has touched your own life. Like this: let’s say Cy constantly does horrible stuff to me.
Host: It’s not that hard of a hypothetical.
Joe Heschmeyer: It’s actually pretty close to true! One of the ways I’m going to heal in my relationship with Cy is finding out, oh, he’s actually super nice to everybody else. That—I mean, we’ll try to accept that as a hypothetical. So in other words, like, maybe she’s had some really uncomfortable, unfortunate encounters with God where she feels like she’s been abandoned; but when she can see in your life, in the life of someone she loves, what God is doing for you, just that witness—without saying “Okay, now you have to accept”— that witness can slowly start to open some doors.