As I begin my work towards being a FOCUS missionary, I am wildly excited, and yet, I am terribly afraid. I am afraid of taking a path that I never pictured for my life, a path that has never been in my plans, but slowly and ever so gently snuck it’s way into my heart.
But, it still scares me today. I do not have it all figured out, and I sometimes don’t know how it is going to work out.
I actually don’t think I have ever had it all figured out, this is far from what I had planned, but I have slowly seen the Lord tear down and shatter what I thought was a perfect life plan, only to build it anew in a different light. And while it is so frightening, it is oddly comforting.
It is comforting to know that I do not know best, but I am in the hands of someone that does. Someone who knows far more than me, and someone who has the world’s interest and salvation in mind at all times, up until dying on the cross for you and I. I am honored to take part in this mission, and in this work, but I want everyone to know that it is not always perfect, and I do not know it all – but I so greatly trust in the one that does.
FOCUS training was a huge factor in that for me, I got to learn from so many amazing men and women, and I had the chance to listen to them as they so lovingly and willingly shared their stories and journeys with me. They spoke to me of lives made anew, of “BC” lives that you would never think could lead them to that very moment in Ave Maria, Florida under the scorching heat and 80% humidity. But as we become open to a will greater than our own, we are greatly changed.
Every day, I continually ask the Lord to break my desires in prayer. I ask Him to unite my heart to His, and as I do, my heart has broken more and more. I find myself overwhelmed with sadness many times, sadness for people who separate themselves from the greatest love that I have ever encountered. From a love that so deeply longs for them, a love that longs to tenderly heal every wound in their life. And that is where He meets me. This spot is where He moves me, and where He so gently loves me, challenges me, and changes my heart.
On July 18th, 2016, I ended up in the chapel for two hours, not realizing that mass was not taking place that day. And I sat up and stared at the cross…as I wrote: “Lord, give me Your heart. Give me Your spirit of perseverance, that I see on the cross. I see You, and I imagine the way that You gazed upon us knowing Your death awaited, so that all might be brought to You. Knowing and seeing the need, allow me to see You and remember that I must persevere as well. Remind me to remind myself that I need to do this for You, and for the heart that longs for His children. Help that be my heart too. Make my longing so great, so that every moment and every fear may draw me to You. Conform my heart to thine o Lord, and let me love this mission and Your people with Your most pure heart.”
And that’s where everything begins to change. As I break my pride and the fear of rejection, I see the beautiful ways that the Lord is able to work through that. As men and women share their stories with me, and as I am given the chance to share my own. We do not conform God to our own will, but we ask Him to conform our hearts to His. I have seen Him greatly provide in this way, as He slowly wrecks my fears and challenges me to trust in Him ever so greatly on this mission.
I recently read a Susan B. Anthony quote posted by a friend that read, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
I would like to say that she has it all wrong. From a girl that was so fearful to ever leave California and the bright sun, to someone that took a job where she had to be open to relocating anywhere in the United States and is now so ecstatic to begin her journey in Oregon, I see myself changing more and more every day. I do not change God to fit my desire, but I ask Him to change me to fit His own. I knew this was it when among so many fears during the application process and thoughts of graduation, I felt a moment of great peace as I finished.
I could never say that I would have chosen to leave school early, before I even graduated, or took all my finals, go through so many full days of training, skip lunches in order to get some writing done, write 24 pages in a couple of nights, while getting about four hours of sleep every day. But It was so worth it because…
The life of a true Christian is far from easy, and self interested. It is moved by love, and it is continually changed and shaped by a desire to reach the world, and to reach Christ. But we do not reach the world on our own terms, through our own standards. That is where humility comes in. That is the moment where I also ask the Lord to break my pride every day, realizing that nothing that I suffer could be greater than the humiliation that Jesus faced on the cross.
And that is also why I love being Catholic. Because that’s what our Church is. We do not need the Church to tell us that we are right where we think we are right, but we need a Church to tell us that we are wrong where we think we are right. And I am so thankful for that.
I am thankful to the God that meets me where I am at, who made me with a longing to know Him and to know His love. It is a longing greater than any desire of my own. But our desires in and of themselves, if proper and good, could be one of the greatest factors that lead us to God. I believe that my call to be a missionary has come from my desire to work with people in some capacity, and to love them. And then, my growing desire to work with College students. It fit so perfectly and it makes me realize that my call to be a FOCUS missionary is greater than anything I could have ever orchestrated on my own.
And so, I am grateful to a God that leads me so gently and at the same time allows me the freedom to choose to do otherwise.
*This isn’t meant or directed at anyone except maybe Susan B. Anthony. To whoever posted the quote, you should probably already know that you were and remain one of my favorite people. I have been meaning to speak into my fears and challenges as a missionary, and seeing this quote simply inspired me to do so now. I seem to have fleeting moments of inspiration quite often, then I push them aside and writing about them becomes incredibly difficult later, then it never ends up happening.