God writes each of our stories, if we choose to let Him!
30 May 2016
Discerning God’s call in your life can be challenging! Especially when you question what you are currently doing… Is this really what God wants me to do with my life? For how long? Am I called to religious life or marriage? Am I on the right path? Why can’t God just give me a clear sign? Why do I have to be patience – haven’t I been patience enough?! I’m ready Lord, why do you keep insisting I need to do this and that first?! Perhaps you can relate to some of these questions. Even though God has graced with a general overview of His plan for my life (the finer details… those, however, are a matter of daily discernment) there are still moments, days even where I question if I am on the right path.
I currently teach 5th and 6th grade at a small Catholic school in rural Minnesota. When, I say small, I mean small. I only have two fifth graders and four sixth graders. Yes, that’s a total of six students. There are several reasons I felt called to teach at this school, (including a book I read about a Benedictine nun who teaches at the school and the fact that had an opening at the grade level I wanted to teach – the main reasons I even applied), I had a great interview and was called back the same day and offered the job. Shortly after beginning teaching at this school, I felt, in adoration, God tell me I would teach in Browerville for the next four years. While teaching only six students sounds like a breeze, there are many challenges every day and many times where I feel inadequate and think “God, are you sure this is where I am called? I am sure there is someone who could do this job much better than me!”
Yet, my trust in the Lord, helps me to persevere and to give my best self to my students, even if the reality is imperfection. None of us will reach perfection until we are in Heaven, which is something I am mindful of, yet I never stop striving to improve and bring God’s kingdom here on earth. 1 Peter Chapter 4 verse 11 states: “Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” My call to teach in Browerville, isn’t to be a perfect teacher, it’s to bring my best self to these students, help them grow academically, grow in knowledge of their faith, and most importantly to help foster their love of the Lord. I am here to be an example of faith to them, to pray for them and show them the love of Christ, so that in all things (including my imperfect teaching) God may be glorified.
In the summer of 2012, Catholics on Call was one of the opportunities I had to help me along my discernment path. At that point, I had been teaching for one year in Browerville, and was fairly confident I was called to religious life, but I wasn’t really sure exactly what that would look like. I also knew that there were very holy people who were not religious and still feeling that was a desire I had, so there was a little bit of angst about becoming a sister – I mean if we truly desire something, doesn’t God recognize that and grant the desires of our hearts? God certainly couldn’t be asking me to become a nun if I loved kids and wanted to get married.
During Catholic’s on Call I met many holy people. I found it reassuring to know there were so many young Catholics (like me) searching for their call, searching for ways to serve the church and be involved, all across the United States. I felt peace knowing I wasn’t alone, realizing there are so many young Catholics who love the Lord, adoration and have a commitment to going to Mass and upholding what the Catholic Church teaches. I had great conversations with my table group and I still make an effort to send a birthday card to each member of them every year. I also pray a rosary for each of them on his/her birthday. Prayer is such a powerful way to show our love and be connected through Christ, despite our busy lives and the large distances that often separate us from those we care about.
One of the main reflections I took away from this conference, was, that even though we all share our faith, and there is a whole community of my peers that truly love the Lord, each of our calls is so unique and different, that we can’t worry about if it doesn’t make sense or if doesn’t fit exactly how someone else was called. God writes each of our stories, if we choose to let Him. While sharing our stories, answering questions, and upholding each other in prayer is crucial in our discernment process, when it comes to our own individual call, it will come in a unique way (as unique and special as each of us)! That call might only make sense to that person, but each of us has to learn to trust in the Lord and continue to seek God in all things.
Finding God’s call is a process, patience is a virtue we continually go in, and we need to continually remember it’s God’s time not ours. (And yes, He does have a plan – there is a reason you are doing what you are doing now)! When you come to know the Lord, you experience deep peace, trust in the Lord and follow that sense of peace. If your heart’s desire is for God, he will make it known that you are on the right path. (Or the wrong path too – God never stops loving us and always provides graces and helps us redirect our course when necessary).
While God has blessed me with both joy and challenges teaching, I am now at the end of those four years in Browerville, and am about to embark on a new and exciting journey. This fall, I will begin formal discernment with the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota. It will be a big change, but I believe after six years of active discernment, many visits to different religious orders, praying in adoration, and begging God to change my vocation – joining this religious order is exactly what God wants me to do. I have immense joy in this decision, especially when I place my trust in the Lord and reflect on the clear signs God has provided me. While I do think marriage is a beautiful and holy vocation, I know I will have the most joy and can serve the Lord best following His path for me. In time, God has revealed to me how my heart has been formed to be a sister. I love Jesus in a special way, and can take that deep love for Christ and share it with so many others. I am able to have prayer as a scheduled, lengthy part of each day. I can’t think of anything that could make me happier than answering the call from Jesus to love and serve Him in this way.