Once in a while, as I’m going about planning my perfect life, God stops me in my tracks and sets me straight again. I have all of these grand plans involving saving the world and “changing the system”. I said in my last post that I want to have a “cool” life. My idea of that and God’s idea are probably radically different. I’m okay with that though because God’s plan for my life will be AMAZING, not just cool. In order to follow his path I have to leave the one I’m on and give up all of those big plans I have for my life. And this is incredibly scary. What if instead of being a roaming missionary and saving all of the children of Africa he asks me to stay in little old Scranton? What if instead of ministering to the desperately poor he needs me to tend to the spiritual needs of the lost and lonely teenagers of this country?
Ironically, the one thing I am fairly certain God is calling me to doesn’t scare me at all but is something I long for. It is also something I am scared to talk about because I’m afraid of what others will think. Recently I have realized that if I am ashamed of what God wants me to do, there is a serious problem. He should be the only one I am trying to please. As Galatians 1:10 says: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
So it’s time to tell a story. This story starts a few years ago when I was in high school. My relationship with God was just beginning to blossom and I had just recently begun to trust him when he asked me to surrender my life to him. I was at a Steubenville Youth Conference with my friends and brother. Before the last Mass of the weekend an announcement was made that there would be a blessing of all those who were discerning Religious Life or Priesthood. Sometime during Mass an image popped into my head: me walking up to the altar when they asked who was considering Religious Life. I knew without question what God was asking me to do and I was shocked. The possibility had never even crossed my mind and God took me completely by surprise. Throughout the rest of Mass I argued with God and sat in complete disbelief. As Mass drew to a close and the time was coming near, I began to sob and asked God to not ask this of me. Then they asked any girls interested in religious life to come forward and against my every instinct, I began the long trek towards the altar. Tears streamed down my face but I knew I was doing the right thing. We were asked to promise to discern God’s call for a year.
Later my brother said in surprise: “I never knew you wanted to be a sister!” and I replied in distress, “neither did I!”
I only seriously thought about the possibility of becoming a sister for about a month after the conference, and then in the midst of school and boys, it fell by the wayside. Then I went to college and everything changed. Suddenly I had a solid Catholic community to foster and support my faith. For the first time in my life I was around Sisters and I learned what it actually meant to be one of them. After fighting with God for the first couple of years, I finally admitted that God was still tugging on my heart. After much discussion, discernment and prayer, something incredible has happened: my will is in line with God’s. Not only have I embraced the call to religious life, I want to be a Sister.
As graduation nears, I’ve realized that I’m trying to figure out how I can mesh God’s plan with my own by being a sister while still doing all the things I want to. This is not true surrender and is only causing me stress. I am continually being surprised by God and reminded that his thoughts are high above my own.
Matthew 16:24-26 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”