“Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” St. John Paul II
This is the quote that came to my mind last week when I was sitting in my formator’s office explaining to her that I felt like the Lord was asking me to leave community.
As many of you know, I spent the last eight months as a Postulant with the Franciscan Sisters T.O.R. of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother. However, last week I made the decision, with help from our dear sweet Lord, to leave. It was an incredibly difficult decision and continues to be a challenging experience, but I know one thing for sure in all of this: My Heavenly Father walks before me always, preparing my path, and walks beside me as my strength through everything.
Over the last eight months it may have seemed like I wasn’t doing much, but a lot was happening. On the outside, I was cleaning (quite a lot), praying (probably around 5 hours a day), and ministering with residents in a nursing home and people in downtown Steubenville. I was taking classes about religious life, Franciscan spirituality, the Catholic faith, and much more. I was building relationships with all 22 other women I lived with plus the 16 other women who didn’t live with me but are in the community.
Internally, I was growing in my identity as a daughter of the Father. I was learning that my worth doesn’t come from what I do but from who I am. I came to a new understanding of myself, of how I deal with things and how I could deal better. I grew in being able to recognize the Lord in everyday experiences. I learned how to embrace suffering, how to lean into suffering and allow the Lord to be my strength. I encountered my own littleness and in that recognized how deeply I need my Heavenly Father.
I didn’t enter the community planning on leaving. I didn’t start this whole process thinking that it wouldn’t last. The Lord surprised me completely when He told me I could leave. But isn’t that what makes following the Lord exciting? We never know where He’ll lead us or for how long. What we do know is that the Lord is trustworthy and following Him brings peace and joy.
I don’t regret the last eight months of my life. I don’t regret the three years it took me to go through the application process and get accepted for entrance. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without the whole journey. I am so incredibly grateful for what the Lord has done through me and in me over the past four years of being connected with the T.O.R.s. Just because it wasn’t the right fit, doesn’t mean the Lord didn’t use it. I’ve not only gained knowledge, experience, and depth in my relationship with the Lord, but I’ve also been blessed to now have 38 incredible prayer warriors behind me. There is no doubt in my mind that He wanted me where I was and that He wants me just where I am now.
I can’t say that I know what I’m doing next. I have ideas, but I haven’t really made any plans. What I can say is I know who holds my future and I know that He will show me what way to walk when it’s time. Until then, I’m just going to rest in His arms and let Him be in charge of this adventure we call life.