I am married, have a great job and have much to be thankful for. I usually do not complain and consider myself quite stoic. However, I have recently found some burdens that I bear difficult to continue with. In particular,
(1) I feel overwhelmed by how many people depend on me for things they should be able to do for themselves. As a Catholic, I feel obliged to respond to requests for help from people who are in my family and circle who have difficulties that, in my view, result from their being lazy and unmotivated and it just drains me. It has been happening for a number of years now.
(2) I feel God does not respond in any way to my prayers for help. I am not asking God for money or anything for me, just respite from an endless series of problems dumped on me by others. I feel like I do a good but imperfect job of following God but that God really does not help me. Friends of mine who are agnostic utilitarians have much more enjoyable lives it seems. I do not ask for an easy life but I would like a break from fools and leeches.
I may have a martyr complex and I worry that I should see a doctor as it is starting to affect me. I have read that others have had this problem. I just feel afflicted by family and friends who cannot get their acts together but who I have to help because I am Catholic and that is our duty.
Any useful advice from difficult experience appreciated. Please no warm and fuzzy Joel Osteen type advice .
God is not MIA, though it might appear that way to you.
The answer is “NO.” There are times when it is wise to give this answer. I have even had to say “NO” to people from church groups who I felt were making unreasonable requests. To my mind, they should have had the obligation as Catholics to know better than to make such unreasonable requests. As for this advice, please keep in mind that as an internet stranger, I do not know the circumstances of the people you are dealing with who are asking you for help. Is there a priest you could talk to?
I have felt this way too at times. I would suggest that you post a Prayer Request in the Prayer Intentions section of this Catholic Answers Forum. After three years of all kinds of people here praying with me, and through the Mercy and Providence of God, I finally had a prayer answered … in His perfect way, in His perfect timing.
That said, as for your prayer request, maybe what you need instead is to hang out a NO DUMPING sign to make things clear to people so that they will respect your boundaries instead of dumping all their problems on you.
And remember St. Teresa of Avila … after she was dumped in the mud when a horse threw her and her carriage overturned, she looked up to heaven and said “Lord, if that’s the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them.”
The older I get (I’m 44) the easier it is for me to say no. I’m not perfect at no. There’s times where I should be saying it and I don’t, but I’ve learned to draw boundaries. Especially with my stepdaughters and babysitting for them.
Now, if I can learn to start saying no to my 21 yr old son… I’ll be making a lot of progress
My prayers are with you. It’s not easy to say no when you need to, and to balance out your life with the needs of others, but once you figure out that balance your life will improve drastically.
The Catholic Church does not teach that you must be the caretaker for the world. That is a role you have somehow assumed, in error, and now you must learn to say “no” when appropriate, as others have stated. And refuse to feel guilty, for they will try to lay a guilt trip on you.
Here is what I was told that helped me: When you take on the responsibilities that others should be taking on for themselves, you are depriving them of their God-given right to grow and develop their own potential. You are doing them immense harm spiritually and emotionally. Thus you have played a role in their immature behavior and need to stop allowing them to shift their responsibility to you.
When you do this, there will be repercussions, some severe, because people do not like change, but once you have established the fact you are no longer the doormat, and stick with it, you will be free and relieved of a burden you were never meant to carry.
God is not MIA. He probably is just letting you become so disgusted with the situation that you will seek to change it. He is letting you discover a few things for yourself in order for you to grow as a person. He knows what is best for you, so you must learn to trust Him.
I have found that sometimes (NOT all of the time) when God seems to be answering “no” it is because He is waiting for me to pray for the right thing. It might (I’m not in any way sure about this; it is just a suggestion) be that instead of asking God to free you from the leeches, you could be praying not to see them as leeches. I mean, some people are less naturally disposed to intelligence and/or hard work than others. It is genuinely more difficult for them to do things for themselves. Not that it is in any way impossible for them, just that it may be harder.
In any case, it would be better for you (although probably wouldn’t make any difference to them) if you could view doing things for people an act of love for someone God loves, rather than being sucked dry by leeches. I’m not saying I could do it, or that anyone could do it all at once, but that might help you with saying no to people–if, in prayer, you find that you can’t view it as anything other than draining by leeches, that would be a good time to tell them you won’t do it.
I’m lucky. My family and friends are all extremely independent and would have to be in great need before asking someone for help, so I know that any requests for help are really genuine. So maybe I can’t understand your situation very well. But if it were me, I would be praying something like:
“God, help me to do Your will in all things. Please help me to know whether I should agree to do what X wants me to do. If I should do it, please help me to do it in love rather than as a duty. If I should not do it, please help me to refuse in the way that will best encourage X to do whatever s/he needs to do for him/herself, rather than to give up. But whichever it is, please watch over me now and every day. If it is not against Your will, please let me feel Your presence a little more strongly. I know that if this is against Your will, it is for my ultimate benefit. Thank you for giving me everything I am and everything I have.”
But really, I don’t know anything. Please don’t be offended if I am way off base–I promise it is well intended and said with respect, even if it is wrong.
“One day, I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness, and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings.”
~ St. Faustina; excerpt 153 from The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska ~
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