“Am I a puny God?”
I immediately thought, “Of course not!” but knew God wanted me to reflect further. As I did so, a phrase I have more frequently noticed in movie and book reviews came to mind. When immersing ourselves in a good movie or book, we are willing to believe things we do not believe in real life. In other words, we practice a “suspension of disbelief.” We know what we are watching or reading is not real, but are willing to accept or act as if it is, becoming sad or concerned when tragedy strikes, intrigued when the hero seems to be in a no-win situation, and excited when the climax is reached. At least, we do this until the movie or book is finished. At that point, our disbelief is back in full force, because we know that vampire-werewolf-human love triangles and gamma-radiation created monsters do not occur in real life. So we now reject what we had so readily accepted while immersed in the story.
Do we sometimes do the same thing with God? Perhaps on Sundays, when we are immersed in the ‘story of salvation,’ we are willing to believe and behave as if God has the power and desire to help us. We are willing to believe Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish, performed miraculous healings, and rose from the dead. But what about afterwards? Do we view leaving the walls of the Church as leaving the story, telling ourselves that we are back in the 'real world’? Perhaps we still believe God to be real, but no longer His infinite power and love.
If you are like me, the subconscious answer to this question is too many times “Yes”. This answer, though, leads one to try to do things only under their own power. I know I should be more chaste, a better husband and father, and a healthier eater. Yet, when I try to do these things on my own, the new leaf I wish to turn ends up weighing 2 tons.
What is the remedy? Keep ourselves immersed in the story! This becomes easier when we realize stories are not always make-believe. When your grandparent tells you about the war he or she was in, when your child tells you about the bug they saw on the ground, when your friend tells you about their day at work, they are telling you a story, not just relating facts. Each of us is in a unique situation because we are always in two stories at once: our personal story and the story of salvation.
So here are three quick tips to help keep yourself in the story:
1) Pray without ceasing. What better way to keep yourself immersed than by an action that constantly reminds you that there is a story and you are a participant in it? From reading Scripture to saying a quick thank-you for your job to submitting a petition asking that your little one feel better, there are many types of prayer and countless opportunities for it.
2) Surround yourself with visual reminders of the story. Use religious art to decorate, write quotes from Scripture or saints on stick-it notes and post them around the house, create a “prayer corner (or room)” in your house that is specifically used as a place of prayer and reflection. The more visible the parts of the story are to you, the better.
3) Learn about Theology of the Body. The world is trying to convince us to focus only on this material world, and they commonly do this by using the flesh to entice, entertain, and distract. Learning about the beauty of God’s creating us male and female, the inherent dignity he bestows on us, and the ways that we can fail helps us remember there is something much more desirable than anything this world can offer.
So start immersing yourself in the story of salvation to remind yourself of God’s strength and love for us. Never fear, for our God is never puny.