“Dios Aprieta pero no ahorca”- Mexican Proverb

Literal translation: “God squeezes, but he doesn’t suffocate”

Context: The informant, VA, is a first generation student at USC. She has one sibling and her family is from Puebla, Mexico. She hears this proverb whenever her family has financial problems or health problems. In the past year, both her mother and father have had serious health issues. Her father suffers from heart disease and was operated on. The year before that, her mother had a stroke. She states that she is not religious but her parents are. Her father believes in God a lot and they are Catholic. They believe in saints including Saint Judas and La Virgen de Guadalupe (The Virgin Mary). Both of her parents say they learned the proverb from their parents because their families are very religious, except for her. Finally, she explains how hearing this proverb from someone that’s close to her gives her relief and helps her believe that her situation will become better. 

Description (From Transcript): 

“So what this proverb I always heard was “Dios aprieta, pero no ahorca”. The translation is “God squeezes but he doesn’t suffocate”. But it literally means, (it’s more on the religious side), but it means that God is testing you, but that doesn’t mean he’s gonna let you suffer. He’s not gonna let you die. And we used to say that when we were having financial problems: paying the rent or trying to pay hospital bills. Or finding ways to have hope that my dad was going to get out of that surgery well, or have hope that my mom was gonna get well out of the hospital for a week. He [my dad] was like “Dios aprieta, pero no ahorca. she’s gonna be fine”, and that kind of gave me a little hope. It’s a way of coping and having hope and making the best out of the situation.  We were like “everything happens for a reason”. It puts you at a state of rest, a little bit, because you have so much to worry about but everything is going to be okay

My interpretation: If God only squeezes someone’s neck or body, they might be uncomfortable and in pain, (a metaphor for being tested), however he won’t actually suffocate them because his tests only go so far. To me, this means that a person must have faith in God’s mercy or trust the plan he has for them. The informant’s parents told her this, revealing how faith is present as a form of intergenerational comfort. It also reveals how faith is often used as a final mode of hope when a situation (such as poor health or financial instability) is out of a person’s control.