There was been a lot of change in this country and things are not the way they used to be. Laws have made thing more difficult for people who are practicing Christians. I would not say that these laws have changed on purpose to spite those of us who practice certain faiths but to accommodate others. Not everyone I know shares that opinion, and that’s fine, but regardless of that it is the reality we live in. The question is, what do you do as a Catholic when you’re asked to do something you feel goes against your relationship with God?
My first answer is that if you constantly feel tempted at work, or you usually feel like you are acting against your beliefs, I would say to find another job where you can practice your own values and beliefs. Everyone deserves to have a good conscience, and if working at a job that requires more moral flexibility than you are willing to possess, you might be in the wrong field. Rather than breaking laws or forcing others to kowtow to your personal beliefs, you should find a job you are comfortable performing the duties of. What I mean is that if you are Jewish and follow the Sabbath, there are things you can’t do on Saturdays – and you’ll need either an accommodating position or from sundown on Friday to sunup on Sundays off. If you work in retail and they constantly want you on cash register duty Saturday afternoons, you might want to look elsewhere for a job. A job should not be worth more to you than your soul.
I know it might not be on an everyday basis, and that might make it harder to walk away from. Maybe it is an every once in a while thing that comes up and makes you uncomfortable. In those situations, I try to pray about it. We have some workers here that like to ask for big-money clients but have reputations for not doing the work once they’re placed. I would much rather give those jobs to people with integrity. But my company only gets paid if we make the placement, and we don’t always have the people I want available. So what do I do? Do I tell the company to look somewhere else and lose out on money (and a possible client?) Or do I send an employee there knowing that they might make us look bad? Lucky for me, this does not come up too often. I will pray about things like this and seek spiritual guidance from people I trust like my boss, my wife, and a priest at my Church.
Whenever possible, act on your faith. I would say to be careful you are not violating someone else’s rights, because the right of the law often supersedes your right to religious freedom (because you technically have that right as long as it does not impinge on the rights of someone else; meaning you cannot use your religion to discriminate against someone else). Most religions and faith give you behavior guidelines that allow you to operate in an ethical manner. My faith teaches me not to judge others, not to lie or steal, and that other peoples’ sins are between them and God. Jesus was in acceptance of everyone who came to him for fellowship, friendship, and assistance. All of those things make me a better employee, so they are easy for me to practice at work. I am lucky that way. I hope you are as well.
Sometimes when there is what feels like needless suffering, you want to ask, “Why?” and you wonder if God is really listening to your prayers. I know that I don’t have a direct line to God or anything, but I do regularly feel His presence in my everyday life. However, I have been struggling to find placements for one particular person. She needs a good and steady income to support herself and her child. I know that some poor decisions led her to the temp agency, and that she is willing and ready to move on with her life and follow a better path. Unfortunately, no one seems ready to give this woman the second chance she needs. I have been praying about what to do and feel like I have not gotten an answer. I feel lost and she is getting more and more desperate. I am afraid that she will go back down the dark path she walked before if I don’t find her something soon.
I am putting a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to help her, and it is making things worse. I am getting frustrated and short with people in situations that I previously handled just fine. When I went to confession last week, I talked about all of this with Father Tom. He told me that unfortunately, a big part of faith is believing that God is listening without needing proof that He really is. Also that sometimes the answers we get are not the answers we are looking for. Therefore, we either don’t see them for what they are or we don’t appreciate God’s response.
While what Father Tom told me made a lot of sense, it made me feel bad as well. It made me feel like a bad Catholic, I guess. To have to be reminded to have faith and to accept God’s Will felt like basic things I should have known already. Father Tom was nice enough about saying all of it and was not scolding me at all, nor did he treat me like a spoiled child, but I felt the rebuke all the same. All I want is to find this woman a job so that she’ll see His good deeds and stay on a healthy path. I don’t really know why that is so hard to do, but I am clearly missing something.
I know that there is a Divine Plan and that it is impossible for me to know everything about it. Maybe God has a higher purpose for her and we simply have to wait for the opportunity to present itself. I do not know if that is the case. I certainly hope it is. I guess I just have to keep looking, hoping, and praying, and keeping my eyes and heart open for God’s response — no matter what that opportunity might look like.
What do you do when you don’t feel like He is listening?