“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
This line in Scripture from the account of Peter walking on the water always makes me laugh, because I can only imagine what my reaction would be if I were in Peter’s place: “Look around, Jesus! Have you SEEN these waves? Isn’t it a bit unfair to call me ‘you of little faith’ in this kind of a situation?!”
Hearing this line in the Sunday Gospel a few weeks ago, I was struck by how matter-of-fact Jesus’ question is. He asks Peter why he doubted because it should be so clear to Peter that Jesus can be trusted. This was an epiphany moment for me, because trust in God is always something I’ve struggled with. In fact, almost every time I pray, Jesus at some point says to me, “Trust in Me, Mija (My daughter).” It’s easy for me to look at Peter and recognize his lack of faith, but I quickly realize that it’s just a mirror of my own.
A few weeks ago I had the incredible privilege to see my best friend, Sr. Anne Thérèse (formerly Mary Wilder), make her final vows as a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville! It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever had the joy to witness, as she laid down her life completely for her Beloved, for the rest of her life. But it was also a poignant moment for me to reflect on all that God has done in my own life. You see, seven years ago I thought I would be there with her, at that altar, making my vows to Jesus as His Bride, alongside my best friend.
To make a long story short, Mary (Sr. Anne Therese) and I met my sophomore year of high school, when my mom signed me up for a ‘nun run’ with Fr. Greg Mastey (even though I had absolutely no desire to go and even begged to stay home!). On that trip, we visited the Nashville Dominicans, and Mary and I absolutely fell in love with them. I can honestly say I have never experienced more joy and genuine beauty than at the motherhouse of the Nashville Dominicans. They radiate Christ’s love in a way that I had never seen before, and it’s hard for me even now to put into words just how beautiful they are!
Mary and I became close friends on that trip, and a few months later while we were having a sleepover at her house, she confided in me that she felt like Jesus might be calling her to be a Nashville Dominican. I was stunned, mostly because I also was feeling like I might have a calling, but I hadn’t told her yet! I am so incredibly grateful that God let me meet her and that we were able to walk that journey of discernment together.
The October of our senior year we went on a retreat at the motherhouse together to continue to discern our call. She later admitted to me that on our way there she felt like one of us would leave overjoyed, positive that she was called there, and the other one of us would leave devastated, knowing that Jesus wasn’t calling her to enter. In her own words, “I know it was selfish of me, but I was praying I wouldn’t be the one to leave deastated!”
On that retreat, I was filled with a restlessness and lack of peace that penetrated deep, and Jesus made it clear to me that it wasn’t where He was calling me, even though I had already told my family and friends that I would be joining and had even started giving some of my things away! It was hard for me to accept at first, and I struggled with the feeling that God had rejected me. But now, looking back after seven years, I know it’s because He had greater plans for me than I ever could have imagined for myself!
This past year while I was leading RCIA for the parishes where I’m blessed to be a Faith Formation Director, I told my story to the group as we discussed discernment, and one of our sweet candidates said to me, “I can’t claim to know God’s plan, but it sure seems like God has you exactly where He wants you!” These words have stuck with me, because as much as I doubt God’s plan, He is constantly proving to me how faithful He is, how incredibly trustworthy, and how true those words are!
I’m currently in the middle of a 10-day self-guided retreat, and yesterday I read these words which made me smile, because I knew they applied directly to me:
“We misunderstand the goodness of our present state, and in turn, we fail to see the goodness of the process by which God is leading us into the future.”
I so easily forget that life isn’t a race. Sure, I’d love to be married right now, have kids, and “get into my Vocation already”, but God keeps reminding me that He wants me right here, right now, and He is working on my heart in my present state.
To be honest, I still don’t understand what He’s doing in my life most of the time, but I know I can trust that it’s good. He’s a faithful Father, and I can rely on Him with crazy, reckless abandon. He never reveals very much of the path at a time, but I’ve learned to concentrate on the next step- not the whole journey at once. If I had known then everything these last 7 years would bring, I really don’t think I would have been ready to receive it—my sickness and surgery on my stomach the summer before my freshman year of college which led to endless ER visits, the beauty and suffering of college and grad school, my job as a Youth Minister and now as a Faith Formation Director, the sickness of my mom, and everything else that God has brought our way in these past few years. He only shows us what we need to know right now—and then asks us to trust Him with the rest. And you know what, I think I prefer it that way! The more we get to know the heart of the Father, the more we learn that we can trust Him—we can walk out on the water, not because of how great we are, but because of how great He Is. He’ll never let us down.