It’s so simple to say the Lord knows each of us perfectly. Every detail of our being and every flaw. He knows the deep desires in our hearts, before we can even give them a name. He has purposefully directed people’s paths to cross with mine. These people have taught me what I would not have decided to learn myself. It is through these conversations, opportunities, and the small encouraging voice inside that invites me to love Him and be loved more than I’ve ever experienced. Through these invitations, calling me to be courageous, my heart is breaking open and accepting change.
This semester began with the FOCUS conference, SLS. Despite my excuses for not wanting to attend, God spoke through a FOCUS missionary to combat my fears. Suddenly, I was on a plane to Arizona. At this conference, I learned the teachings of the Catholic Church and was reintroduced to the methods of evangelization I have learned as a Young Life leader! This conference brought me into deeper friendship with those around me and gave me an appreciation for those who serve as priests.
Throughout the semester on campus, I was filled with gratitude for the friends God provided. As my Young Life team has grown closer to each other through laughs, prayer requests, and updates on our friendships with high schoolers, we’ve come to care for each other not only as teammates, but as friends. I’m thankful for the way they share the Gospel and their lives with others. I’m grateful for my friends who have invited me on adventures and for the ways they’ve cared for me. I’ve realized that even though my friendships are usually one-on-one, it’s these relationships that have both pushed me out of my comfort zone and brought me peace. I attended President’s Ball and turned 21, two more fun occasions with amazing people. As co-fiction editor of our literary arts magazine, it was rewarding to help build a publication with other talented individuals. Although the magazine was released digitally, I’m thankful to have been apart of creating the work of art that showcases students’ talent. Having the opportunity to learn more about writing and conversations with an alumni about a writing career gave me valuable information for the future. Finally, it was a gift to watch one of my good friends lead our Bible Study and learn more about the Catholic teachings from her this semester.
Rewind to September, I knew I wanted to spend my time differently during spring break. I wanted to grow in my Catholic faith and experience even more virtuous authentic friendship. A FOCUS missionary I talked to mentioned two other missionaries going to New Mexico for spring break. Fast forward to March, and I was spending a week in Zuni sharing the Gospel with students. On that trip, God was changing my heart again. He showed me beauty in the Sacraments I had once avoided or found boring. He shed light on the depth of His love that can be experienced in Mass, Holy Hour, Confession, and praying the rosary. My perspective had changed and I have begun to experience the importance of these teachings, which not only reflects the goodness of Christ but exposes the depth of His love for us.
In these past 14 weeks, I believe the Lord has tapped into a part of my heart. Where I desired friendships that challenge me to grow and give me joy, He has provided. If I ever wondered how God has worked in my life, He has helped me recognize how far I have come. Knowing me so well, He’s placed my friends and FOCUS missionaries in my life to draw me closer to the beauty of the Catholic Church. I praise Him for providing for me in unexpected ways this semester and showing me the joy that comes with living abundantly with Him.