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Thursday, September 3, 2015

God's Will For My Life

Knowing God's will for my life and then taking action to align my life to His will for me has been a focus this year, more than any other year. I decided for the month of July to discern whether or not I am being called to have more kids. Approaching it much like any other time I have thought about whether or not to have kids, I was thinking about the rhythms and routines of the academic year as an educator (hello late spring/early summer babies). My plan was to discern in July and then move forward in one direction or the other in August. In order to help me discern, I decided to pray the rosary daily and then write in my spiritual notebook. 

I have always been a planner, and it didn't take my husband long to notice that about me with many aspects of our life. Early on in our relationship, my husband shared the saying in Spanish, "Si quieres hacer reír a Dios, cuéntale tus planes," which is like saying in English, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." In response, I continued planning away anyway, such as having tables with each family member on one axis and the ages and grade levels for the girls on another axis. Then alongside our current family, there would be columns for potential additional children. I would think through different scenarios for our family based on number and spacing of kids. 

My plan to discern in July was with that same planning in mind. Nonetheless, on the very first day of my rosary and reflecting, I was overcome with a sense that I wasn't the one in control, that everything could change in an instant, and that I couldn't impose my own timeline for an end date to make a decision. Instead, I realized that I would need to be more flexible, more open. 

Nonetheless, I still felt fairly determined that by the end of July I would have confidence and peace in which direction I should be moving. I knew that if I chose to have more kids, my focus would be more heavily on my role as a wife and mother at home (alongside my career that would be necessary to continue to support our family alongside my husband). I knew that I would need to step back from some of the ways in which I have been involved at church just as I had needed to previously. On the other hand, if I didn't have more kids, I would be able to maintain or increase my involvement.

I wanted to know the right answer, the direction in which God was calling me for this point in my life, how He would like to use me. One particular night at Adoration, I felt like I had my response. In my head I heard something along the lines of, "Amanda, you put so much pressure on yourself, carrying around the weight of always wanting to know the right answer." I got the sense that in this particular scenario, there was not a cut and dry do this, not that. Part way through these thoughts, one of our parish priests came in the Adoration Chapel and knelt down behind me to pray. Without any words between us, I could feel an additional layer of solid support and comfort.

I would love to say that I walked away that night fully embracing this uncertainty, but instead, I still wanted to know which route would be best. Soon after, I asked our other priest about having confidence in God's will for our lives, and the statement that stands out to me the most was him telling me to remember Mary's "Thy will be done" as the main thing I need to say and then letting different aspects unfold. The experiences and comments were shifting my thinking. Yet, I was still unsettled. I hadn't been expecting an "either" answer or a wait and see answer. I wanted a do this or do that response. I wanted July to end with a clear path forward; however, the end of the month came and went without that outcome.

An additional conversation with my priest in August pointed me back to leaving the control in God's hands. Then, last week the following video Fr. Mike Schmitz via Ascension Presents showed up in my Facebook feed:
I had comfort in his words explaining scenarios in which there was encouragement to feel comfortable with God's process, including the role of patience in the discernment process captured well in his explanation, "Here's my invitation for you today is to be content and confident to live in uncertainty, or maybe even a better way to say it is like this - to live with a certainty that God has already given you, to live with the clarity that He's already spoken. You know what He wants you to do."

Right before his conclusion, he used Mary at the Annunciation as an example. I instantly made the connection that like my priest, he was linking God's will to Mary as a mentor and guide in how to respond.

Finally, close to a month after my original intended deadline, I was able to accept and embrace what God had been trying to get across to me from my first day, July 1st, and at different points along the way through His presence and the different people and resources He put in my path. He is in control, and all I need to say is, "May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). While I thought the outcome of my discernment plan would be a path forward for that one specific scenario, instead, I learned something much more vital and bigger picture - I'm learning to let go and trust.

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