It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, and my fans were begging for one. I bluffed and said I didn’t have anything to write about—-when in reality, I did. I was just holding it in, letting it grow. This weekend—–I knew I had to write this blog.
For a few months now, I’ve been working on myself. Listening to my intuitions. Finding dreams I had buried (such as chaplaincy), and even discovering sides of myself that I somehow always knew were there, but I never had the support I felt I needed, in order to dig them out. When I reflect on this, there is one side of myself that comes to mind. A side I had started praying about chasing after, yet chose to keep even THAT intention quiet. Half for fear of judgement, and the other half simply because I wanted to keep it a secret for a while. This past weekend, after another runaway trip to my “serenity place”, I decided to chase that dream. After 3 separate signs, it became very obvious I’m meant to chase it.
The first sign came during bible study, at my friend’s church. The leader had asked me to read a segment of their bible study workbook (they’re always so good at including me when I visit). During the section I was asked to read, three little words were in my reading. “Keep It Simple”. To a regular person, these are just words in a sentence. But to me—they go deeper. I don’t feel the need to explain here, those that know me well enough, and know my family, know why these words sink deeply. I took them as a nudge from my father in this unspecified direction. The third sign (yes, I skipped 2, it will follow this one, as it was the biggest of the three) was a still, small voice saying “just check the SNHU program offerings. Perhaps this area of interest is listed. I did. I followed my heart, and looked—-and sure enough. This interest was there! I immediately contacted my advisor and filled out the paperwork needed to change my concentration out of gerontology and into this new path. What is this path you ask? Let’s bring in sign #2!
The second sign was honestly the biggest and loudest, and that was meeting my friend’s daughter. I will leave her name out of this post, but she truly has no idea how much of an impact she’s made on me. She, like countless others, is struggling with an addiction. The drug she chooses doesn’t entirely matter—-the point is, she is battling with her own demons daily. As are countless others. The only difference—-she is choosing to fight, while others are giving up. Or fighting but losing the battle. I don’t know why she chose drugs, nor does it truly matter. I just know that meeting her made me strongly aware that my calling is to work with those struggling. Drug/substance abuse is so bad right now. Centers are packed, centers are at wits end because they do not have the funding to expand like they need to. And there are many abusers who are afraid to get help. Some fear that they’ll be told “it is a sin of their past that is causing them to abuse drugs”. Or “God must be punishing them”. Or, “They’re simply choosing to be addicted. It’s that simple……don’t do it or do it.” NONE of these lame, cliche and VERY judgemental lines are true. Not in this young lady’s case, or ANY abuser. Where are the Christians who truly follow Christ’s words to care for the least of his brothers/sisters? those who are vulnerable, easily forgotten, and left for dead like Lazarus and the rich man? Where are the Christians who choose to minister, not to the body (although that is also needed), but to the soul, to the brokenness of these that are addicted, such as the Woman at the Well? These Christians are truly hard to find. Perhaps, we like to think we are this kind of Christian, when in reality, we find ourselves absent mindedly judging these addicts, perhaps using one of the lines mentioned above. I truly understand that not everyone is called to work with those suffering from addiction. It truly is a calling—-just as a calling to the priesthood/brotherhood, a calling to the convent, or a calling as a nurse or teacher would be. Deep down, I somehow always knew it was my calling. That I’d somehow end up working with those addicted to drugs/substances. Not only helping them to find sobriety, but also helping them to find……..THEMSELVES. To bring out their broken pieces, and help them use those broken pieces to create a beautiful masterpiece…..their sober selves.
My father is a huge part of this, as many of you know, he was an honorable member of AA for many years, helping countless people achieve sobriety. AA meetings were our father/daughter date nights. While some of my schoolmates were going out to father/daughter dances, or doing fun things, I was going out to eat and then to an AA meeting with my dad. And to be honest, I totally MISS those nights. But I also need to give credit to my faith in God, especially at my new parish, Blessed Sacrament, an inner city parish that chooses to help those struggling, instead of push money their way, or all out judge their addiction. It’s here, at this new parish, that I’ve begun to find the peace and quiet needed to pray and go inside myself to find the strength to answer these little promptings of the Holy Spirit. Without my strong faith, without my newfound ability to believe in myself (although it’s severely difficult at times), I wouldn’t have had the “ah ha” moment with this lady over the weekend, I would’ve just taken it as a moment in time.
For me, and hopefully for her, it was much more than that. It was an eye opening, heartwrenching moment. A moment where I stared the deep recesses of my heart square in the eye, and for once, felt the ability to say “Yes, Lord. This is where I belong.”
I’m officially studying for my BA in Human Services, with a concentration in Substance Abuse Counseling. It may take me a while to graduate, since I’ll be paying the remaining 7 classes out of my own pocket. But with the faith of a mustard seed, and a new garden of supportive friends and family (in the shape of a few cousins and an aunt I recently discovered), I will get there! The only time it’s “too late” is when you’re in a pine box, being carried up the steps of whatever church you attend.
My challenge to you—–take the time to look inside your own heart. What stirs your passion to no end? What makes your heart ache in this world? Where do you wish you could eliminate or fix something in the world? Perhaps—-this is where your true calling lies. Listen to those echoes…..they just may be a key to your destiny.