2019 was probably the busiest year of my life. In a whirlwind of two short months, I graduated high school, began my first full-time job, took my SATs, and auditioned for the music department and music therapy program at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. The most important thing to me during those two months was getting into SMWC. But besides studying to be a music therapist, I had a dream of being on the hunt seat equestrian team. These two things are what drew me to SMWC. I could tell God was directing me to SMWC. I mean, what other school offers both of my passions and gives me the ability to do both at the same time?! I was so excited to begin school -- which is a sentence I never thought I’d say. My mother was immediately cautious when I told her about my plans. She was worried that I would be way too busy and suggested that I wait to join the horse team while I adjust. But I refused. I wanted to be on the horse team, and as long as I make it through try-outs, I was going to stick with it.
"I was the busiest and most stressed I had ever been in my eighteen years of life..."
As August rolled around, and after a whirlwind of orientation and classes, I find myself as a full-time music therapy student who’s also on the hunt seat equestrian team and working a part-time job. I was the busiest and most stressed I had ever been in my eighteen years of life. In between classes, I was running to the barn for either a lesson or a workout. After class ended for the day, I would rush to my job and work into the late hours of the night. Lastly, then go home and do my homework.
I was attending 8AM classes running on a few hours of sleep. I never had free time to relax or spend time with my friends. I was always worrying about the next few hours of my day, and how I’d get from Point A to Point B. You could ask anybody who’d see me, and they would tell you that I was dangling by a thread. All I talked about was how tired I was, or how stressed I was, or how I was dreading going to the barn or my next class. I stopped eating, whether because I was too overwhelmed and busy, or I just didn’t have time. My anxiety levels were through the roof. Yet, I couldn’t admit that. Even though there were all these red flags, I told others -- and myself -- that I was happy. God wouldn’t let me take on so many responsibilities if I wasn’t able to juggle them all. The stress and anxiety would clear up once I figure out a schedule and get used to this adjustment… right? Spoiler alert: NO.
I fought with myself for weeks. There was a voice in the back of my head that told me I needed to give something up. And I knew what that something was. But I couldn’t even think about facing that part of my mind. I can’t give it up. People were telling me I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I have to prove that I can. If I give up, I fail. God wouldn’t do that to me; He wouldn’t put me in a situation that would result in failure.
"Other people I know can juggle this degree of stress, so why can’t I?"
Quickly, I fell. My mental health was at the lowest it had been in a while. I hated myself. I told myself over and over, “You’re a letdown. Why can’t you just manage everything? Everyone is going to say, ‘I told you so.’ Your coach will hate you. The team will hate you. You’ll never be able to face them again.” I began to distance myself from my friends, and my motivation to do anything practically disappeared. In my eyes, death would have been a more comfortable choice than facing the chaos that was my life.
In this dark time of my life, you probably expect me to say that I turned to God for help. And, well, I can tell you that... I did not. More than anything, I pushed God away. I was angry at Him. I was confused. “Why would You do this to me? Why would You lead me down this dark path? Why would you let me live my life in a state of constant dread?” It didn’t make sense. I was at one of the lowest points in my life, and yet God was just sitting there, letting it happen. Up until this point, my relationship with God was at a pretty good place. In the months leading up to this, I had been working on letting God take the reins. “God’s Will be done” was my motto. And then… this happened. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I was alone in a dark room, and the Light was fading in the distance.
I quit the horse team on October 30, 2019. My coach wasn’t in town for me to talk to her, so I called her in my car late in the evening on campus while two of my best friends stood outside and watched me stumble through my words with tears flowing down my face. I got out of my car and stumbled to my feet while my tears of sorrow, fear, cowardice turned to tears of relief. My friends hugged me and told me that they were proud of me and that God is so good to me. But I didn’t say anything back. I had made one of the hardest decisions of my life, and it definitely didn’t feel like God was there to help me. My friends were there physically to support me; yet, I still felt alone. We drove into town for a dinner that was planned initially as a distraction. Only now, it had become celebratory. And it wasn’t until I was sitting down, texting my parents and other friends and horse instructor the news, that it hit me.
"God was there. In every moment. In every decision I made..."
The problem was that I didn’t look for Him. I expected Him to appear out of nowhere and fix everything with a snap of His fingers. But that’s not how He works. God doesn’t force Himself into our lives. He doesn’t throw obstacles at us and just sit there while we try to work through them. God is patient. God waits for us. I realized that God seemingly wasn’t there because I didn’t ask for Him to be. I never turned to Him for help; I doubted His abilities and His love for me. I found myself in a time of distress and immediately put the blame onto Him, instead of asking Him for help. But, God never leads us down the wrong path. It’s like I walked down this path that got darker and scarier the further I went, and every step I took, God was standing there with an outstretched arm, waiting for me to see it and take His hand in mine. But I kept my head down and continuously walked right past Him, blaming Him for letting me go this far without showing me a way out. And then when I finally looked up, He was there, still patiently waiting. His hand was still out; His patience was never growing thin. His love for me had not and could not have diminished.
God is good. I will never be able to say that I regretted joining the horse team, or that it was a mistake that I made as a college freshman. Through this experience, I learned my limits -- mentally, physically, and spiritually. I grew to appreciate my friends so much more, and I can never thank them enough for being my anchors through it all. But also, as cheesy as it is, my relationship with God GREW. After months of using the mantra, “God’s Will be done,” I finally had a real understanding of what that meant. I realized that God doesn’t push Himself into our lives and that we have to want His love in order to receive it. A relationship with any person is a two-way street -- so, why would our relationship with God be any different? We can’t push the blame onto God for everything that happens without asking and discerning if a particular course of action is what He wants BEFORE we act upon it. Even if it doesn’t seem like it -- in the darkest times of our lives, when we are traveling down the dark path with seemingly no way out, God is always there. God’s hand is outstretched, His strength hasn’t failed. He is waiting. And He will always wait. His love never fails. We just have to look up, take his hand, walk toward him, and accept the graces and love that flow from a relationship with our Lord and God.
I have a random question for you. What’s your thought on experiencing roadblocks? Annoying right!? I mean, think about it, there you are just going along in life, and you’re just cruising along and then all a sudden, you look up ahead, and you see something is blocking your path. Now when you can see it coming, they aren’t as annoying. You have time to prepare yourself for whatever you need to do when it comes to dealing with it. But in life, we usually don’t see roadblocks coming; we don’t have the time to prepare. We have to figure out what to do when we find that we are stuck in one place when we are attempting to move forward. And that can be very frustrating, especially when you thought you were on a path that was in union with God’s plan for you.
"When we do realize that we need time to breathe and focus on ourselves, this rest does not make us weak..."
I find that some roadblocks are small enough that we can adjust our strategy and move on by them. Usually, it only takes a little while to get past. In other cases, we see so many roadblocks on our path, and we keep trying to “just push through them.” We think that’s precisely what we need to do because we are strong and we can do it. God makes us strong, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need time to rest up between daily difficulties. And more importantly, when we do realize that we need time to breathe and focus on ourselves, this rest does not make us weak.
I occasionally notice individuals taking the time to care for themselves during or after these daily trials and tribulations, which we are blessed with. I find these people to be very strong because it is not easy to take time for yourself. It doesn’t mean that you are selfish just because you need time to rest. Everyone needs time to rest, recuperate, and keep their mental health in a good state.
Mental health nowadays is something that we all need to take into consideration. There are so many things that go on in our lives where we feel we are out of control. It is easy for me when these situations arise to say, “it’s OK I’ll be all right.” All the while, I know that my mental health may not be in great shape, but I go to work serving and helping others while neglecting myself. I often forget about myself and the need to build myself back up. And I have noticed that this has actually taken a significant toll on my mental health.
"It seemed like a message from God that I needed to rest and that I needed to take time for myself to allow myself to process everything that has been happening..."
I have seen forms of depression in my daily habits over the past summer and fall semester. I have come to understand my many roadblocks that have popped up as I tried to push through and hide the fact that I was hurting. It seemed like a message from God that I needed to rest and that I needed to take time for myself to allow myself to process everything that has been happening. I was honestly scared to tell my family that I needed to take a break from school for a little while.
I was afraid that they were going to say, “you have one semester left why don’t you just push through it and finish so that way you don’t have to deal with school anymore.” I knew if I did that, then I would wholeheartedly go cold inside. If I did this, I knew I would never be the same. I was afraid that if I push myself through this last semester, while not taking the time, which I needed to rest and recuperate...I knew that I would regret it. I may take this frustration and redirect it towards my field of study. I may end up hating what I was going to school to do for the rest of my life. I know that is something God would not want for me. When I did tell my family, they were all very supportive! I was so happy. When I communicated this to my friends, they told me they were so proud that I was able to see that I needed to take a break from school because they also wanted the best for me. God has put so many beautiful people in my life. I count all my close friends past and present as true blessings. Even though situations within my family may be hostile, I still feel supported when it comes to making my own decisions, and that is something that I hold very close to my heart. After I have finalized my decision to take a break from school during the spring semester, I have felt an immense feeling of overwhelming peace. When I think about the future, I am no longer frustrated or scared.
"I now know that it was God telling me something that I was hearing but didn’t entirely listen too. And I now see that God was basically (kindly) yelling at me.."
God has put many signs, signals, and direction in my life; they have always come in different forms. Usually, these were “ah ha” moments. This did not happen immediately. I was not reading the signs that he was giving me about taking a break. I didn’t quite get it until my financial aid was causing me so much frustration that I just stepped back and looked at what was going on and said: “OK, God, I get it.” I still believe that I am walking the path that is right for me and following God’s plan even though I have seen a huge roadblock in my way. I now know that it was God telling me something that I was hearing but didn’t entirely listen too. And I now see that God was basically (kindly) yelling at me, “YOU NEED TO REST!” I can laugh at myself now because it took so long for me to hear what God had been saying to me.
When looking at the roadblocks that have come up in my life over the past summer and fall seasons, I have noticed they’ve been getting more intense. And I was beginning to have a harder time handling them. I was becoming ill-motivated and becoming very tired all the time I would eat less and sleep more. It took so much for me to get out of bed. I knew I had to get out of bed for class, and that was easy. Still, when it came to seeing the people that I cared very much about like my friends and my family and most importantly God, it became even harder for me to get up, get dressed, and go do something.
"The roadblocks were placed in my way as a sign that I needed to take a break and truly sit down and breathe and take some time to determine and discern, with God's guidance, the best course of action for my life..."
I would continue to pray and continue to talk to God and would go to church every Sunday. I would pray, but it would be tough for me to pray for myself. I would pray mostly for those around me. Very rarely did I pray for myself as I didn’t want to seem selfish. I was trying to convince myself that I was “OK,” and everything was fine. Still, as I kept seeing all of these different roadblocks come up in my path as I tried to go along, I realized that the roadblocks were not put in my way as a test or a sense of annoyance. The roadblocks were placed in my way as a sign that I needed to take a break and truly sit down and breathe and take some time to determine and discern, with God's guidance, the best course of action for my life. It took so long for me to comprehend that I needed to truly sit down and allow myself time to heal. I needed time to pray and process the things that have been happening around me and in my family.
Now that I have finally read the signs, I can actually see that praying for myself by spending time in prayerful reflection is very "self-conscious" and is not “self-ish.” I now understand that just because there are roadblocks in my life, that doesn’t mean that I am on the wrong path. It doesn’t mean my time treading this path was wasted if it is to diverge or change routes or directions. It doesn’t mean that roadblocks are only there to test me or annoy me but that God permits them to bring us closer to him and that I need to keep working and breathing. It is often necessary and wise to take care of yourself via prayerful rest, so that you can continue to do God’s will for his people in your fullest capacity.
I want to make the following recommendation. If you find that you are not moving forward on your “presumed” path because there is something in your way. Take the time to learn everything you can about what is in your way. It is crucial to remember in moments like these that God is with each of us. We must seek him in restful prayer to help us move these obstacles in our path so that we can continue to run to him and live out his plan for us.
The following reflection is a collection of short experiences by five young adults. These are daily experiences of the Lord entering into their lives unannounced bringing with him, his healing and his peace.
"A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the car on the way back home from the St. Louis Zoo, saying my daily prayers, thanking God for his beautiful and wondrous creation because the animals there were so precious. I heard and felt God in my mind and heart say, “But you do you not think that about yourself?”. Each one of us is a distinct part of God’s creation. We are beautifully and wonderfully made."
"I hadn’t been receiving communion for several months because I just felt unworthy. I felt like everything I did was wrong, big or small, it was just bad. I still went to mass though, receiving what graces I could. I would participate in the mass, only not receiving communion. One evening, I went up to receive our Lord and crossed my arms on my chest to receive a blessing. The Eucharistic minister issued kind words. And with a soft smile, she added, “The Body of Christ is waiting for you.” My sister was behind me, also receiving a blessing; the lady hadn’t said those words to her. When we got back to the pew, my sister was just smiling teary-eyed at me. I was confused, but then it dawned on me. Get yourself to confession. Get help. Don’t beat yourself up for it. The priest has heard this sort of thing before. Don’t be afraid of confession. The priest isn’t there to judge you. He is there to absolve you, to help you, and to guide you. God wants you to receive Him. You’re not the only one. You’re not alone. You are worthy. You are worthy to receive it."
"Christ is everywhere and most of the time I see him in nature, more specifically in the stars. I love being outside, looking up and witnessing the beauty of Christ’s handiwork. Each and every star was uniquely crafted by hand with a purpose that many of us will never know.
I look up at the stars and feel the intensity of Christ’s immense power. The same God who created the entire universe decided that the world also needed one of you and one of me. The detail that God put into creating the stars does not compare to the time he spent creating you and I. I see Christ in the stars. They remind me of how small I am compared to the world but also how mighty in Christ that I must be."
"I saw Christ this week when reflecting on my best friend. Over the past month, God has revealed a lot to her. She has trusted his process every step of the way. I am so proud of her humility and trust in the Lord’s will for her life.
Growing with my best friend has taken a long time on both sides. She lifts me when I am down, and I am so thankful for that. God has blessed me with her friendship, and I cannot thank him enough.
God has a unique way of using difficult life experiences to bring people closer together, and I am grateful for it. Together we are strong, but with Christ, we are unstoppable!"
"Before the last retreat I attended, that was just about a month ago, I remember feeling a fear I had not experienced in a while. It was going to be a huge group of people around my age, I only truly knew about five people, and I was not told the events of the weekend. Growing up as someone who had severe social anxiety and difficulties applying myself, this was a weekend I dreaded.
But I kept telling myself on the drive there, “If this is where God wants you for the weekend, then everything will be okay.” That became a mantra for the time I was away. We kept being thrown into new activities, new discussions, and new buildings. I was unable to cling to my friends -- I didn’t have any anchors to ground myself with. I felt open and raw. I was uncomfortable. I cried -- a lot. But in this uncomfortableness, within the fear of judgment or hatred by others, in the back of my head was, “If this is where God wants you for the weekend, then everything will be okay.” And this became my anchor. I came out of this retreat, feeling like a wholly refreshed soul. I was candid with myself -- and even more with God. In that, I found release.
Often I find myself coming back to that phrase. In the thick of uncomfortableness and fear and self-doubt, it is so easy to say, “No.” To challenge God and angrily ask why He’d put you there. It’s hard to see our purpose, to see Him, to remember His Will, in moment of darkness. But the goodness of God can always be drawn out of the darkness. You just have to invite Him there."
"One night during praise & worship in the chapel with my youth minister, Amy, I had a beautiful experience with the Lord. The whole time I felt like I was floating and like every time I sang out, I was getting closer and closer to Heaven and the real presence of Jesus. I was able to actually sing in the Spirit, it was almost like the Holy Spirit was singing through and for me so that I could let go and simply focus on feeling the Lord's presence in my soul. I felt so peaceful and heavy. God is good!"
I must admit, when approached by Jared to write a reflection for Franciscan Young Adult Ministry, I was hesitant, to say the least. With minimal experience in theological teachings (I completed elementary religious education), my infantile understanding of philosophical reasoning (the chicken had to come first right?), and my limited life experience (yes, this is me implying I’m young), I figured I would spare everyone (aka myself) and politely decline. Truth be told, I wasn’t even sure where to begin. Let’s be real, I am not particularly known for being emotionally inclined. However, in true Jared fashion, he didn’t take no for an answer. Instead, he expressed his confidence in my ability to minister to the young adult demographic and encouraged me to pray and discern before making a definitive decision. After weeks of discernment, it became translucently clear, Christ was calling me to share how vulnerability strengthened my faith in Him.
"I decided to do something I don’t often (if ever) do and share my most vulnerable moment with all of you."
Enlightened, I drafted a very well thought out, analytical article concerning Christ’s desire for us to grow closer to Him in our vulnerable moments. After a week of going through the writing process, deciphering, researching, drafting, revising, editing, and proofing, I had, in my opinion, a painstakingly derivative and exceptionally well-written piece. Feeling completely unsatisfied, I began to discern even further, and I realized that I was missing the mark. Yet everything I had stated in my article was articulated poignantly, and accurately I had failed to convey the significance that vulnerability can make in one’s spiritual journey. I knew just what I had to do, so I went back to the drawing board, and praying for the Holy Spirits guidance, I decided to do something I don’t often (if ever) do and share my most vulnerable moment with all of you.
Rhett had a very happy Thanksgiving!! #weareblessed
It is no secret to those who know me that my son, Rhett, is disabled. It is very apparent as he is non-verbal and requires a specialized wheelchair for mobility. What may not be as visible is how Rhett has progressed to where he is today. Rhett is the first and only child for my husband, Brad, and I. He was born with no complications, full-term, in fact, an entire 11 days past his due date, at very healthy 8lbs 7oz. Rhett’s journey is unique in that his condition did not present itself right away. Rhett’s development early on was very typical. He would play, crawl, suck his thumb, feed himself, pull himself to stand, giggle, and he was even starting to babble.
"Heartbreak is not only emotional, believe me, there is a real physical response as well."
At approximately 18 months my husband and I began to notice some minor delays in Rhett’s development in that he was not walking or communicating as most other children his age, which lead Brad and I to begin numerous therapies with Rhett including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. However, even with the weekly therapy sessions Rhett’s condition appeared to progress, worsen even, as time went on. Rhett’s development was regressing at an alarming rate. Rhett no longer smiled or giggled, he stopped pulling himself to stand, he no longer crawled, he stopped feeding himself and even eventually ceased to suck his thumb. It is difficult as a mother to express the fear I felt when I looked into my son’s eyes and saw that he was leaving me. I felt him slipping away, bits and pieces of my son, who he was, his personality, slipping away little by little. As his mother, I knew this, felt it, but selfishly did not want to lose hope that this was just a phase and would eventually pass. Of course, Brad and I were actively seeking out answers from numerous doctors and specialists as to what may be the cause of Rhett’s developmental regression, but truth be told I didn’t need answers because in my heart, I already knew. I witnessed his struggle, and I just knew whatever this was, it wasn’t a phase, it was serious, and it was happening regardless of the diagnosis. Finally, after a year of testing, we received a diagnosis. Rhett has a very rare neurodegenerative genetic condition known as NCL type 1, commonly referred to as Battens Disease. As Rhett progresses in his condition, the symptoms are regressive in nature; once a function is lost, it cannot be regained. The doctors gave Rhett a life expectancy of between 3 and 8 years based on his diagnosis. He was 2 ½ at the time he was diagnosed. Rhett is now 5.
Heartbreak is not only emotional, believe me, there is a real physical response as well. I have never (never) been more vulnerable than when my heart literally broke with the news of Rhett’s diagnosis. That devastating news that confirmed my gravest fear and effectively depleted the hope I was already barely maintaining. I was in every way, and in some ways, still, am, broken. Completely and utterly broken. You see, as I was grieving for my living son, I was also grieving for my future children.
Given that NCL is a genetic condition, the odds of Brad and I having future children with this same disorder are high, specifically 25% or 1 in 4. So, there is a 75% chance that any children we conceive in the future would not be diagnosed with NCL. Needless to say, that news added a whole other level of heartache.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I had a choice to make. I could choose to live in fear, or I could choose to live in faith. That’s the thing about free will. God wants us to full-heartedly and consciously choose him. In our vulnerable moments we are presented with this opportunity. The opportunity to choose Christ while we are defenseless. He wants us to turn to him uninhibited. I’d like to confirm that in the wake of my most vulnerable moment, I absolutely and unequivocally chose Christ. But I didn’t. I became angry and resentful. I questioned God. Why He would give me a taste of something so beautiful and then slowly pull it away. I would never hear my son call me “mommy”. I would never hear him tell me he loves me. I would never feel him hug me. I would never see him take his first steps. Though this admission doesn’t make me proud, I was furious, furious with God. I can, however, proudly say that I did eventually choose Christ because even though I was hurting immensely, Christ did not give up on me. I continued to pray (even if it was in a questioning manner), and through this process, understanding began to dawn.
"It is in our vulnerable moments that we are given the opportunity to choose Christ, and that opportunity is a choice to allow God’s grace to enter our lives."
I realized just how incredibly blessed I was and still am! Blessed to have a husband that supports and loves me and loves Rhett unconditionally. Blessed to have heard Rhett giggle and grab me in earnest. Blessed to see Rhett bring joy to all those who have the pleasure to meet him. Blessed to simply be in Rhett’s presence. Blessed to be Rhett’s mother. Rhett was and continues to be, a gift. A gift God entrusted to me, why I am not entirely sure, but He did all the same, and from that moment on, I vowed to never waste another day questioning His gift in Rhett because Rhett is enough.
It is in our vulnerable moments that we are given the opportunity to choose Christ, and that opportunity is a choice to allow God’s grace to enter our lives. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t just want to be on a “first name basis” with us. He longs for an intimate, personal relationship with us. He presents us tribulations that are meant to make us vulnerable because He wants us to lower our defenses and come to him in our child-like vulnerability and unabashedly give ourselves over to him. It is in our weakness that He makes us whole and brings us to His salvation. When was the last time you opened yourself up to Christ in a vulnerable way?
Who is your favorite singer?
We will include this anonymous survey data in our reflection book due to be published next year. Polls help us understand each other's journey toward Christ and how to strengthen it.
Can I Sell Corndogs and Still Be Like Mother Teresa? My life as a young Catholic in a secular world. You know in the movies when there is a dramatic interview scene and the interviewer asks “So, who are you?” which generally results in the main character entering into a mid-life crisis because she cannot think of a statement that embodies the entity of her entire being. While I by no means have my life figured out, I like to think I would be confident with my answer: “Hi, my name is Jenna. I am a devout Catholic who wishes she could be like Mother Teresa, but remain close to my family and have the ability to still sell corn-dogs.” At this answer, I imagine the interviewer would have the confusion of a cat in a Derby race and simply thank me for my time.
If the interviewer would give me enough time to elaborate on such a profound question, I would explain to him that I am a cradle Catholic. I was born and raised in Southern Indiana, who just so happened to spend every summer in a very secular environment: a carnival. Since childhood, my summers were filled with working alongside my parents in the family concession business, also known as Ford’s Foods. While I would consider myself a devout Catholic, often in the summers, I held onto Catholicism by a thread. I was lucky to attend Mass twice within the two months that were spent traveling when I was younger, and I had yet to grasp onto steady prayer practices. It’s hard to say if Mother Teresa would have recommended living life in the way I was doing in my youth. And yet, while I had to battle for my faith in the summers, my faith-life at home was not much stronger.
"I discovered myself answering many times that, no, I do not worship Mary and that yes, I am in fact, a Christian..."
When I was not dipping corn-dogs, I was home in Crawford County, IN. I was attending my small, yet fierce Catholic Church, named St. Joseph’s. I found the need to share and inform those around me what Catholicism was, in comparison to their misconceptions. I discovered myself answering many times that, no, I do not worship Mary and that yes, I am in fact, a Christian. If you were to enter my beloved parish, you would find a simple church with two-stained glass windows, about 20 pews, and a crucifix hanging behind a very small alter. On a good day, there are maybe 50 parishioners that would fill the place where I first learned of Jesus. My childhood parish is the only Catholic Church in my entire county. My first bible school class consisted of my amazing mother sitting at our dining room table with a workbook the church gave her because I would have been the only kid in my religious education class. I eventually was able to get in a class with other kids, and those classes lasted until junior high. Looking back, I was a mustard seed in infertile soil. I was lucky to be watered. In hindsight, I know the only reason I was watered and rooted in God was because of my mother’s faith, my parish that became my family, and God’s love. With all of this in mind, I would have never imagined I would be where I am today in Faith.
"The journey of faith is like climbing the mountains. The hike to top is treacherous, but the view is not of this world..."
I currently am studying education at Indiana State University, and being Catholic in college has widened my horizons on the topic of Catholicism. I entered my Freshman year, knowing that I wanted to continue to attend Mass. Little did I know, I would be immersed in such a beautiful, Catholic community in Terre Haute. That following summer, I went to Mass more than any other summer. I sought out more time with God, and I was rewarded for this by growing into a deeper relationship with Him. I was once told that the journey of faith is like climbing the mountains. The hike to top is treacherous, but the view is not of this world. I have reached the view, and I like to believe that I’m still observing its beauty.
"My dad turned to me and simply stated, “Jenna, kindness is always the answer.”"
I feel I am currently at the top of my faith mountain, and my trust in God is secured. However, I still question whether or not I can be surrounded by secularism and still strive to impact the world as Mother Teresa did and live this life of faith. While I have no expectations of winning a Nobel Peace Prize, if I could bring half the love that she brought to the world, I would consider myself successful. This past summer is when I asked myself if I could sell corn-dogs and be like Mother Teresa. Moreover, I was asking myself if I did not pursue a vocation or job that pertained to the religious life if I could still be an impact and serve the Lord with my gifts and talents. Then, I thought of my favorite corn-dog story. I was 12 years old working at the LaPorte County Fair. An older woman ordered a corn-dog and was paying with change. She was just a few dimes short, but my dad gave the signature nod that meant the woman gave what she could. I turned to the woman and mustered the most genuine smile on my face, proceeded to tell her that we were even and to enjoy the rest of her evening. She gave me a smile of pure joy and thanked me. My dad turned to me and simply stated, “Jenna, kindness is always the answer.” While I may not be starting orphanages or feeding the poor each and every day, I have learned that by merely possessing a spirit of kindness and showing Christ’s love towards each person we meet is enough to have a Christian impact on at least that one person. And, it only takes one person to change the world. Like most young Catholics, I worry about if I am truly following the path that God created for me. I am still searching for answers, but I believe that by attempting to be a light to those around me I will only draw closer to God. And as to whether I can still sell corn-dogs and be like Mother Teresa, I believe the answer is yes. People of non-Christian faith, many of whom did not want her there, surrounded Teresa of Calcutta. Yet, despite all adversities, she still managed to spread love. My Calcutta may be rural Indiana, and my people may be hungry customers, but by always approaching people with kindness and love, I believe that is the true calling. You do not have to be a saint to bring change to the world.