Two and a half years ago, I decided I wasn't going to do a year of service. A year later I decided to reconsider and today I find myself on the cusp of a life of service that I don't know if I ever quite imagined in 2008.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to look back on the journey that led me to do a year of service by sharing the story of that decision with a group of juniors and seniors from Chestnut Hill College on their Life Choices Retreat. The story is one that has shaped who I am and ultimately landed me where I am today. Despite that fact, it's not a story that I reflect on in depth with much regularity anymore.
Yet in preparation for this retreat, I found myself examining the process I took to decide where I was called to be in a new way. It is a tale of two decisions: how I decided not to do service... and then ended up doing service. I know it pretty well, since, well, I lived it. But being able to take the time to reflect on the decisions that I made which led me to service allowed me to see those decisions and the person who made them in a new light.
As is so often the case on this blog, and especially for the purposes of this post, the story isn't nearly as important as the reflection that has led to its telling. Hindsight is 20/20, but even now looking back on where I've been and the decisions I've made teaches me something about myself, information that is as pertinent to who I was then as it is to the here and now.
From college to Commonweal to the SSJ Mission Corps to life as a candidate with the sisters, each step has been taken after much consideration and prayer. Each move has come out of trust and remains in faith as I am led from one grace to another. Honestly it couldn't have happened any other way. When I've tried to move forward otherwise, I see and experience the fault, I trip and stumble; I realize the need to walk in faith with God.
This weekend, though, God introduced me to some others I've been walking with- Me, Myself, and I. They've been on this journey with me the whole time and reflecting on how I've come to where I am today I needed to sit with each one of them. As I did, I recognized that they were sitting with me. In each new moment, they journeyed with me and in striving to stand most honestly before my God the stood with (and deep within) me.
There was the little girl who dwells within me. With wonder and simple joy, she skips and squeals. She longs for attention, makes herself giggle, and smiles at the world around her. She is and was enamored by a God so great and powerful, who nonetheless takes the time to talk to little girls. I am her and she is me.
I am also the teenager who obviously knows best but still yearns for love and approval, who just wants to be held tightly and know that the God who whispered into her ear was there. She is the one in whom the little girl jumped when God's voice was heard; so familiar, so fantastical, so fundamental. Even though she cared to dictate the conditions of a call, God took her by the hand and led her until she realized that if this call was true, it couldn't work that way. God held tight, knowing her hands couldn't hold it all.
Her hands are your hands; her hands are my hands; her hands are God's hands.
That teen grew into a young woman- Pondering philosophy and religion, taking hold of desires and passions, staking claim more readily to who she is. As she grows, so does that claim... so does my claim. She is in me. They all are. And they all stake a claim to who I am.
So does who I am becoming. That woman is within me too. I am slowly coming to know her. While I may not really know her, she still plays a part in who I am today, if only because that is part of who she'll be tomorrow.
Looking back on where I've been I see each one of them in my life... There is always a primary player but in the background the others play supporting roles. As a child, the teen and young woman took notes so that the little girl would be comfortable when I grew up. With time, the little girl shared innocence, intuition, and joy in the most unexpected places as the other players took the reins. Each player takes cues from the others; they teach one another inadvertently and as a result, I grow. Without any one of them I am not truly who I am and at my best, I am the bond that somehow unites them all.
No matter where I go they travel with me- from college to Commonweal to the SSJ Mission Corps to life as a candidate with the sisters- I am their's, they are mine, and we are all God's.
Gratefully, Me, Myself, and I can rest assured in that.