Many years ago, I was watching a video where Bishop Barron discussed the idea of freedom. As I understood him describe it, true freedom is the joy and often the surprise you experience when you allow God to direct your life. Since I am a six on the Enneagram, fear has always played a big part in my decisions. Thus, for me, experiencing true freedom would require embracing and overcoming my fears and letting go of my need for security and stability.
So, what does a woman who is highly fearful of instability and insecurity do? Of course, she quits her job of 13 years, rents out her condo where she lived for 9 years, moves to another state, and enters religious life. Right?
Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to do any of that. But as I went to work each day for all those years, wondering if there was something more for me out there, wondering if there was some kind of work I could be passionate about, wondering if I would enjoy living in community, and wondering if God really was calling me to religious life, I decided that the only way to find out was to befriend my fears and take a leap of faith. In the end, I feared the regret of not following my heart more than I feared failing at religious life.
I enjoyed my time in religious life, but in the end, I found that it is not yet the time for me to make that commitment. It’s not that my decision to move forward was wrong. I enjoyed my time in formation. The theology classes I took at Xavier University changed my life. And I will never forget the sisters that I had come to know and love so deeply. When I left the community six months into my novitiate, I did so as a completely different person. I couldn’t imagine going back to my condo or my old job. I just wasn’t that person anymore. I had to figure out how to keep moving forward.
When I saw this internship on the archdiocesan website, I knew this was what God had in mind for me. It was everything I wanted to do and everything I was afraid of at the same time. It was guiding teens as they talk with each other about how God is present in their lives and what questions they have about their faith. It was working with technology and creating virtual retreat experiences as we continue to navigate through this pandemic. It was learning how to sing and play a musical instrument as part of a Christian music band. It was pouring my heart out in blogs that would be posted on the internet for anyone in the world to read. This position would require that I not allow my fears to hold me back. This position would require a total surrender to God’s will.
My hope for this internship is that I grow in fearlessness and a deep love for all of God’s creations. I already know what it is like to be afraid. I want to be able to see the fear in others and find a way to offer them hope. I know how it feels to doubt God’s love, forgiveness, and even His very existence. I long to help others navigate their own doubts about God. And I know how difficult it is to live in a space where so much is unknown, and life feels chaotic. I desire to help people feel safe in the arms of our good and provident God, who may not fix everything that we struggle with, but who will definitely carry us when we feel that we can’t go on.
I don’t know what my future holds at the moment, and that’s OK. I am offering this year to God. I am embracing vulnerability and anticipating transformation. At this end of this year, I could decide to stay on for another year, request to go back into religious life for the same or a different community, go back to school and start a new path in life, or find a new job and move back home. Whatever I choose to do, I pray that God will guide me to the place that will both challenge me and fill me with unbelievable joy. I pray the same for each of the students with whom I will work this year. And I pray the same for each of you reading this blog entry.