What is God’s plan for me?
28 Apr 2016
It was around this time last year that I was getting ready for a retreat called Day By Day Agape, DDA; an encounter weekend for teenagers led by teenagers.  I was one of the adult mentors on the leadership team for the retreat and after six weeks of a formation process we were ready to bring Christ to others.  I had been on countless DDAs in the past so preparing for this weekend wasn’t any different than my past experiences.  I knew my role as an adult mentor and I was confident that our teen team was prepared to share their faith with their peers.  However, my own spiritual life at that time seemed distant.  I wondered how I could be an example of whom a Christian woman is if I was struggling with my own journey.  Faith has always been a part of my life, and in some way I know it always will be; but a year ago I struggled with figuring out what God’s plan is for me.  I often found myself questioning God, asking him to give me a sign.  Something, anything; to let me know I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
That DDA weekend I had the pleasure of being on team with two wonderful Sisters; Sister Mary Catherine Redmond, PBVM and Sister Mary Naccarato, PBVM; who are members of the order of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I have known both of them for many years and I even have made a few DDAs with them; so again preparation for the retreat came routine for me.  That weekend I shared with both of them my thoughts and how I felt lost.  They listened and affirmed that my questioning was natural and all people at one point in their lives question their faith.  Truthfully, affirmation was really all I felt I needed, however both of them saw something different and offered so much more than affirmation.  Before I knew it, it was July and I was packing my bags and heading to Chicago to meet Sister Mary Catherine, affectionately known as SMC, for a conference that gave me hope, a new perspective and an experience that I will forever treasure.
Back in 2010 I completed a year of service where I strengthened my faith, built many wonderful close friendships, and found a community where I felt I belonged.  In the years following my service year, friendships changed, friends moved away, and others got married and started a family.  As the community I held dear to my heart started to unravel, I stayed right where I had always been.  While everyone was moving on and growing, I stayed in my hometown with no plan for my future.  Fortunately, I found a job that I have come to have a passion for and still there today.  My job became my world.  However, in the three years prior to CoC I felt that there was something missing in my life; yet I couldn’t pinpoint what I was missing.  Fast forward to present day, seven months after CoC, I find myself taking a look at life very differently. Through the experience of CoC, I realized that the one thing missing was community.  CoC offered a sense of community, even it if it was just for those short five days. This is what I was missing; a community to connect to, to feel at home with and to live my faith aside likeminded individuals.  For so long I had been trying to live a faith-filled life on my own.  In the months following CoC, I searched for new ways to connect to my Catholic faith and I found two new communities that have welcomed me.  With the guidance from SMC, I joined a prayer group with four sisters from her own community; an unlikely setting that I otherwise would not have engaged with.  I look forward to this prayer group now as it gives me time during my busy work week to quietly sit in prayer.  Pope John Paul once said “the profound choices we make flow from prolonged periods of silence”.  This once a week prayer group allows me to listen to my heart and reflect on those small signs that God has put in my life to help guide my path.  The second community is a Young Adult Ministry group right here in my own county.  It just so happened that three months after CoC two young adults from this group came to speak at Mass one Sunday morning about the ever present young adult population in the Catholic Church that is often overlooked.  I was soon introduced to the regional coordinator of the Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of NY north of New York City and found myself joining as a core member to build the young adult community in our area.  What a Blessing!  I don’t feel so alone anymore.
The job I hold, a Mentoring Manager with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, NY, that became my world is still in my life but I don’t look at it now as a job that gives me a salary.  I look at it now as a ministry where I am a servant to those whom I work with and for.  I get to bring compassion and kindness to those who need it the most.  I don’t know if I will stay with this agency much longer, but I do know that wherever God places me, I will go without hesitation and the mindset that God will utilize my gifts for good.
To help me process all that I was thinking, feeling and going through SMC offered one last thing that I have come to appreciate dearly.  I had always known what Spiritual Direction is but never took the opportunity to take part.  CoC expressed the importance of having someone in your life to help walk you through your faith journey.  Spiritual Direction offers questions and perspectives that you may not otherwise think about.
The original question I was seeking of “what is God’s plan for me?” really hasn’t been answered yet.  But, I’m okay with that now.  I’m not so worried anymore as I know God will reveal his plan for me in his own time.  CoC has helped me to learn that discernment is a lifelong process and we should always be seeking, evolving, and changing.  God knows when and where he wants us.   It is not up to us to figure it out; it’s up to us to listen and then say yes to whatever speaks to our heart.
CoC has changed three things for me that I have implemented in my life and I would suggest them to others who also find themselves lost at times in their life.  First, stay open to new experiences; even if they are outside of your comfort zone.  Be open to hearing what God has in store for you, it may be different than what you expect but you won’t be disappointed.  Second, find a community that you feel at home with. It opens up conversations, opportunities, and dare I say, answers to the ultimate question of “what is God’s plan for me?”  Finally, seek Spiritual Direction.  Find a religious figure that you trust and can confide in.  We are not meant to live our faith on our own.  We are all Brothers and Sisters in Christ and we all need someone to lean on.