“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”— Jeremiah 29:11
I was certain I knew what God’s will for my life was.
For about a year and a half, I thought I knew what God wanted me to do with my life. After hearing his call so often and after so much time in prayer and talking to so many loved ones about it, I thought I knew God’s plan for me.
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On a FOCUS mission trip to Nicaragua in March 2018, I first heard God call me to be a missionary. I kept praying about it and talking to the missionaries at SRU about it, and when I went to SEEK 2019 in Indianapolis, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that God was calling me to be a FOCUS missionary. It made perfect sense to me because of my great capacity to love and my desire to bring people to God. I could already imagine myself on a college campus meeting students and embracing them in authentic friendship. I would go to Mass with them, lead a Bible study, and light so many hearts on fire for God.
This was how I was going to do God’s will. When I told my friends and some of my family that I wanted to be a FOCUS missionary, they all affirmed that I’d be a great missionary. This path made sense for me.
I filled out my application and asked some of the FOCUS missionaries at SRU to help me with it. I spent hours making sure that it was what FOCUS wanted to see without compromising my authentic self. I submitted it with excitement, and one week later, I got an email from FOCUS.
They were not going to interview me.
It took me a minute to process that I wasn’t going to Recruitment Weekend. I wasn’t even getting a screening call. They decided not to continue with my application at all. I felt the strangest mix of emotions. I felt shattered, cheated, indifferent.
After I got that email, I sat in the chapel in the Newman Center for the longest time. I sat and gazed at the crucifix above the tabernacle not quite thinking anything but still trying to organize my thoughts. I came to God with all of my feelings of betrayal, disappointment, rage, and indifference. Finally, I bowed my head and said, “God, I thank you that FOCUS said ‘No.'”
That’s when a wave of peace that only he can give rushed over me.
I realized that hearing “no” doesn’t mean that I’m not good enough. It doesn’t mean that I’ll never be a missionary. It doesn’t mean that I’m not holy or I won’t be a Saint or I’m not a beloved daughter of God. Hearing “no” means that God has even better plans for my future. He didn’t place FOCUS missionaries in my life or send me to Nicaragua or SEEK to get my hopes up. God doesn’t show us gold and then give us silver. God wants me to be a missionary, but not a FOCUS missionary. There’s another mission that God will send me on according to his perfect timing, and it’ll be the one that God created me to do. Hearing “no” doesn’t shake my trust in my Heavenly Father at all. During times like these, I find comfort in Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.'” I’m secure in knowing that He has beautiful plans for my life, and I’ll continue praising him as I wait for him to reveal them to me.