In the summer of 2021, it looked like I had just received the “American” dream. I was working full time. I had a salary for the first time in my life, paid time off, insurance, and retirement. I was working in administration and spiritual formation with my faith community. But by the Fall something was very wrong, my health was failing dramatically. After the discovery that there were three types of toxic mold in my workplace all my symptoms began to make sense. I had never been more ill. My liver was showing major signs of toxicity, my gallbladder was failing. I was having multiple asthma attacks a day and migraines weekly. Over the next few weeks, I had to begin a road to diagnosis, recovery, and healing. After losing my health insurance I was not able to pursue diagnostic testing but have gone to three doctors who all say that I am experiencing the symptoms of someone with a chronic lifelong condition which can be traced all throughout my childhood. My body reacts in unusual ways to molds, toxic chemicals, cleaners, laundry detergent, perfume, essential oils, many foods, the list goes on. I was experiencing overload, a flair, my body saying stop this is not good for you.
Since the fall of 2021, I have lost my job, my health, my ability to work outside of the home. I have lost friends, lost the “security”of a paycheck and, savings for the future, and have had my world made small in many ways.
I have never been happier or more fulfilled … haha yes … read that again! I have never been happier nor more fulfilled.
Though I daily fight an illness that many times is fighting against me, I have also spent the last two years learning about my body and what it needs and doesn’t need. I have learned to listen to its limitations and adapt and change things when something isn’t quite right. I have learned to trust God with healing but not to despise the slow process of healing.
The most important thing that led to this fulfilment was the realization that I wasn’t built for, nor meant for, the “American” dream. Ever since I was young, I knew I was called to the heart of God. I knew I would remain single, and I knew that in some way or fashion my life would be consecrated in the Church. Throughout the many years since then I have tested and tried many vocations, both occupational and Religious.
But it wasn’t until this upset in 2021, that I was faced with the big red stop sign of surrender. I was asked by God to once again slow down and hear His voice in the midst of my circumstances. There seemed to be two paths before me. One which would cause me to force healing faster or to ignore healing altogether in order to get back out there and get a job that would once again pay all the bills, provide health care, and give me financial security in the future. This all made sense, right? Do the stuff to get the stuff so everything will be “okay.” If I was going to get better, I needed to get the job, to get the health care, to get the diagnosis, to get the treatment, and so on.
Yet, here was my body, broken and weak, many days unable to walk because the pain was so intense. There was no way I could go with this plan. Where was I to go from here? Sitting there in this weakness, in the quiet, in the stillness, I saw that my hands were not empty but full.
In 2020, I had been called by the Lord to enter training for Spiritual Direction and by God’s help I had finally found the landing place for my religious vocation: a Secular Institute that allowed me to work in the world wherever God called me but also live consecrated life in the Church.
I was sitting there with hands full. But these two beautiful gifts do not come with secure provision, a paycheck, health care, retirement, savings, or the like; they only come with my yes.
The call to become a spiritual director came from God. The call to my Secular Institute came from God. To both, I could give my full yes! These two places are home. They are where I find myself in God and where I see God in others. They are places where I find Mary and Martha -the places where I listen and love the Lord and where I use my gifts for the sake of the Lord. They are places not donned with security, provision, and what makes sense in the eyes of men. Rather, they are the places where my dream and God’s dream for me collide, they are Holy Spirit led.
I am living God’s dream for me.
That dream costs dearly in many ways. I am thrust headfirst into living a life that requires so much more trust in God then my flesh is desiring or willing to give. But my yes compels me forward into every unknown.
In 2021, wanted to reach my parish and community with the love of God through my job. In 2023, I am reaching people all over the nation. I have spiritual directees in 13 states from Texas to Michigan, from Maryland to California. I sit with the mother, the discerner, the friend, the husband, the leader, the servant, the one in the valley, the one in mourning, the one wondering, the one seeking, the one in the desert, and the one discovering their “yes.” Each of them has a story and each one of them is precious and unique, and the Father’s response to them in direction is precious and unique – fit just for them – tailor-made with the words God knows they need to hear. And my body, still recovering, still healing, doesn’t have to go out to the places that are harmful to it in order to reach them. God made a way.
The work I do for the Kingdom has been expanded, not been limited, by saying yes to God’s invitations and leaving the American dream behind. Every place the enemy tried to harm me God used for good.
Though my yes costs much and looks foolish in the eyes of the world, one day I will get to look at my yes through the eyes of Heaven and pray that I get to hear “well done my good and faithful servant.”
If God is leading you on paths unknown, and in ways that don’t make sense, pay attention. Seek wise counsel, test it by His Word, spend abundant time in prayer, surrender in trust, wait for the time God chooses, and give your yes. God’s call comes with all the tools needed to fulfill it.