Alright…. so I have some things to process. I’m not quite sure how this is going to look in this blog, but I am going to try anyways!
This whole year I have been discerning what to do for the future. Yes I know… this is SOO AGAINST the whole idea of living in the moment. Oops… Ok so maybe I haven’t been discerning this whole year, but since February I have been filling out college applications (actually only 2 college applications) and trying to discern if God wants me back in college this fall. It’s been a beautiful process because these last few months He has been revealing to me what a gift it is to receive a college education. After going to Mexico in December and being on fire for foreign missions, I thought to myself, “God, how many saints went to college? I mean…Really? If my whole goal in life is to become a saint do I really need to spend all this money going to college?” The answer I got from the Lord for that last question was, “Yes”.
So God answered this first question of should I go back to college. I was getting in prayer this deep desire to grow intellectually. I have always had a passionate heart; I follow my heart’s desires and love very deeply. The whole reason I took a year off from college was that I felt a passionate desire in my heart to come to know the Lord in a deeper way and be formed in His love. However, I have never longed to love the Lord through my intellect. Well, He gave me this desire when I was on the silent 8 day retreat in January. Each day I kept getting questions in prayer, philosophical, theological, and other various types of questions. I discovered after this retreat that I was being called back to college to grow in my faith intellectually. Now if you know me, you know that I am very emotional and base much of what I do on my passions. This can be a gift and this can also be a vice. A gift in that I am able to love the Lord and others deeply and passionately. A vice in that sometimes I base my decisions too much on my passions and not enough on my intellect and through reasoning. (aka. I wake up one morning and have a horrible headache. Because I don’t FEEL good, I don’t love as well. OR I go to Mexico and feel so passionately about doing foreign missions…. I think to myself, “Yea i don’t really need to go back to college. do I?) So anyways there it is… the Lord has confirmed that my love for Him and others needs to be more than my passions and desires; it needs to be a discipline; my faith needs to engulf my entire being: body, soul, heart, and MIND; love and faith is a CHOICE that I make everyday. In this awareness, I feel a call to go back to college and love the Lord in my heart as well as through my intellect.
Now here is the big 2nd question. “Alright Lord, WHERE exactly do you want me to go?” From January on, I have pictured myself going to Aquinas College, a really holy college in Nashville, Tennessee. I would have an incredible Catholic education taught by Dominican sisters (SO AMAZING!), I would grow in virtue, and my soul would be sanctified. Aside from this, I would be living in a Catholic formation house with some of my best friends! Seems pretty perfect doesn’t it? Being formed as a missionary this year, I have grown to love a life of simplicity and humility. If I were to go to Aquinas, all these desires of mine would be fulfilled. However, all these things fall under the category “Haylee’s wants”. Yes.. MY WANTS! (maybe not the Lord’s wants…)
Now totally on a whim, I decided a few days before the deadline to apply to Vanderbilt University. This school has always been my DREAM SCHOOL. I wanted to go there all through high school, and when I was not accepted my senior year, my heart was crushed. So, one day in February I had told my dad that I was going to apply to Vanderbilt (why I said this I have no idea!), and so I applied. I was filled with anxiety the whole time I was applying because I was so convinced that Aquinas was where I was meant to be and also because I was scared of putting my heart into Vanderbilt and then not getting in again. Satan was telling me that whole week, “Haylee, you are not good enough; you are inadequate; you could never succeed at that school; you didn’t get in before because you are not good enough.” He filled me with FEAR, and that is NOT OF THE LORD. It was too much for my sensitive heart to bear. So… I applied, but, out of fear, did not put any of my heart into this school.
The Lord threw me by surprise when last week I got a big envelope from Vanderbilt. Absolutely divine intervention. I am not the cookie cutter Vanderbilt student on paper. I took a year off of college to be a missionary, I’m radically Catholic (not a very popular type in college….) , and I can tell you right now that I did not have a 4.4 GPA. Yep… definitely Divine intervention that I got in. So anyways, if you’ve been to college you know that BIG envelopes from schools are always a GOOD thing. I put the big envelope up to the light, scared to open it, and saw a big “Congratulations”. My first thought was, “No this must be a mistake. They didn’t mean to accept me!” I immediately closed my heart, again! Then, I called my brother Jimmy. He allowed me to see outside of my emotions and fears and really pray about this decision. So, for the last week I have been praying a novena about where the Lord wants me to go, and this is what I’ve been getting:
Aquinas: An amazing Catholic education, Dominican sisters, virtue, safety, comfort, and living with some of my dearest friends. (All of these are MY WANTS).
Vanderbilt: incredible education program, VandyCatholic, virtue, study abroad opportunities, MISSION field, would challenge me spiritually and intellectually, would call me out of my comfort zone to become a radical catholic and radical missionary, self-giving.
So THEN… I have to take out of all my fleshy desires and biases and ask the Lord, “Alright God, what is my mission? OR rather, what is YOUR mission for me? Basically, what is my calling in life?” What I kept getting in prayer was, “Haylee, be missionary” I was in confession on Saturday, and Fr. Ketter reminded me of the quote from St. Therese when she said, “When I forgot myself, then I became truly happy.” I picture myself at Aquinas and see myself continuing in formation and in virtue. This is an amazing choice, but my reasons for going are out of comfort and out of self-want. My desires to be there are good, but my desires to be there are also out of fear that I would not be good enough at Vanderbilt. Then, I picture myself at Vanderbilt, and I see challenge, discomfort, radicalness, and mission field! My reasons for going here are self-gift. O Lord… how I long to only want what you want. Help me to desire to be a self gift!
Then I was in mass today. After I received the precious blood and body of Christ, I knelt for a few minutes and talked with our Lord. Having offered up mass for my discernment, I asked the Lord one more time, “Lord, please bring me clarity. What do you want for me? Where can you use me the most?” The Lord replied, “Haylee, will you allow me to make you a gift to others?” I began tearing up. At this moment I realized that the Lord was saying that I am ready. He was speaking truth into the lies that Satan was telling me of not being good enough, that I need more formation, more time for myself with just me and God, and that I am not ready and am too weak. God was telling me that He wants to use me to bring souls to Himself. He wants to use me and make me a gift to others! He was telling me that I am ready, and He desires to use me as His radical missionary!
So my call is to be missonary. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I am called to be missionary and bring others to the heart of Christ through my love. My call is to completely forget myself, to everyday be a self-gift, and to hunger and thirst to brings souls to Christ. St. Therese once said, “I was consumed with an insatiable thirst for souls; this time it was not priests’ souls that enkindled my zeal but the souls of great sinners, whom I longed at any cost to snatch from the everlasting flames of hell.” Could I be missionary anywhere? Absolutely! However, if the Lord didn’t want me to seriously discern Vanderbilt, why would Satan be instilling so much fear into me? Right now, my heart is thirsting to bring the souls of Vanderbilt students to Christ; to bring the love of Christ to a campus that knows very little about our loving Savior.
So… this is what has been going on in my heart in the last few weeks. Praise the Lord for prayer. He clarifies and speaks so much truth into my heart during those times when I sit and listen to Him. My prayer is that my desires may be totally purified, that I may think nothing of myself. I pray that the only desire of my heart is to do the will of God and to hunger and thirst to bring other souls to my loving Father. So in answer to God’s question, “Haylee, will you allow me to make you a gift to others? Will you sacrifice and be a self-gift to others?” I say, “Yes my Lord!”