"Thus says the LORD: I know well the plans I have in mind for you; plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope."
- Jeremiah 29:11
When the notification popped up on my calendar this week, I had two simultaneous thoughts.
"I can't believe it's been a year already!"
"It's only been one year?"
August 8th marked one year of work and life for me at St. Louis parish. And even though some days are downright difficult and others are overly joyful, I can definitely say that over the past 365 days, I have grown to learn more about myself as a lay minister, as a Catholic, and as a person.
Most importantly, I've learned the value of remaining flexible in order to prioritize God's will over mine in all things, including my spiritual and professional life.
When I accepted the position of Director of Adult Evangelization at St. Louis, I was making a big leap of faith. I didn't know this city. I certainly didn't know anyone in this city. And I really didn't know St. Louis. I remember thinking, "What if this place is a bust? Can I just up and leave?"
I doubted the Lord's guidance and His plan for me. I wasn't even giving Him a chance. But I had signed a contract, so I was locked in.
See, God and I have a deal: When it comes to big life decisions, I put Him in charge, and the right opportunity falls into my lap. I don't know why it works this way, it just does.
So when I started the job search I said, "Lord, find me a job. Your will be done."
And that was it.
Several job offers came and went. There were a couple positions near my family in Chicago that were tempting, but not totally satisfying. And quite honestly, after two winterless years in Houston, I was hooked on the South, especially Texas.
Then I found St. Louis, and everything just clicked. And I mean everything. There weren't any scheduling issues with interviews, there weren't any troubles with the Skype connection for my preliminary interview, no problems with travel, the weather was awesome when I interviewed, and the food was even better. And when it came to the people, I felt right at home. Fr. James's hospitable attitude. Peter Polito and Mark Molchen's down-to-earth personalities and humor, and of course, the vibrancy and welcoming attitude of all you parishioners. It just felt like home. And it's continued to feel like home since I've arrived. (Thankfully, not a bust.)
You see, the simple truth is that when we give our lives to God by permitting His ways and His Will to guide our life, we immediately let go of the steering wheel and move over to the passenger seat. And sometimes the journey is really difficult and you wonder why you've given up control. The road of life twists and turns and detours onto side roads with potholes, or we hit traffic and get stuck, or we are about to crash, and we want to take back the steering wheel and drive through all that ourselves so that it feels like we're doing something about the bad road we've ended up on.
But I've found in my own life that when we take control back from the Lord, we only limit ourselves. Life will always be difficult because sin exists. Don't we want God to guide us through our pain?
Sure, I get frustrated with God because my bank account isn't as full as I'd like it to be, I'm far from my family and I miss them (sometimes), and I moved to a city where it's hard to build good friendships because people move so often, but His gifts are glaringly obvious, too. St. Louis is a wonderful parish full of wonderful people, Austin is an incredible city with great food and fun activities, and I've attained such unique personal growth since moving here.
It's all about being flexible and trusting that God's will is for my benefit. I wouldn't be here otherwise.
I know this is where He wants me, and that's better than being somewhere only I want to be. I'll keep listening to Him and continue to prioritize His will for me over my will for me. When He calls me elsewhere, I will go, faithfully and fearlessly.
That verse above from Jeremiah is quoted often, but it speaks a truth that's not often accepted. Maybe you feel like God's duped you a few times already, but we still have to ask the questions: Do we trust that His plan for us is good and for our benefit? I do.
I invite you to let God take control of your life. It's counterintuitive to most, but for the faithful, it's the best thing you can do.