I had it all planned out. I could picture it in my head. Kneeling at Adoration, in perfect silence, it would come to me. I would feel it in my gut. I would hear the words, “Go to _______ University.”
And just like that, I would know.
Well, that’s not the way it happened, and thank God for that.
Senior Year Uncertainty
These past few months as a high school senior, I experienced a lot of stress regarding the college decision process. I was deciding the next four years of my life as a 17 year old! It could forever change where I lived, who I married, and the career I pursued. What if I didn’t like it? What if those four years led me away from Christ? How could I know for sure that I was following the path God had laid out for me?
I asked God to make it easy on me, to just tell me where He wanted me. When the ol’ “hear a miraculous voice in Adoration” thing didn’t pan out, I began looking for signs in everything.
In the back of my head, I knew that it would all work out, but as May grew closer, I had started to wonder when — or if — God was going to pull through for me. I would go anywhere He asked, I told Him, but I just needed to hear Him say it.
Looking for Signs
One day, I passed a street sign named after a school I was considering. “It’s a sign. Praise the Lord, there’s my answer!” I thought. Then we passed the next street, named after another school I was considering. And then another… This happened for four blocks. Turns out God was having a good laugh as we drove through a neighborhood with about 20 college-named streets.
God gave me His two cents a few weeks later, but the message wasn’t quite what I expected. As I walked through the halls of my school, I passed a theology teacher accompanied by two sisters visiting for a presentation (Catholic school awesomeness). I introduced myself to them, and immediately, one pulled a Miraculous Medal out of her pocket and told me, “Pray often and ask for Mary’s intercession. Then God will help you figure out your future.”
I picked up what God was laying down. Chill out, my daughter. All in My time. Just trust Me, and pray. The next week, I got the medal blessed specifically for college discernment and got to praying.
Finding Peace in the Whisper
Eventually, in my heart, the answer became clear. But it was gradual. It was never a burning bush or a voice from the heavens. And honestly, I think I grew more as a person because of it. Throughout my seemingly endless period of questioning my future, I learned to trust. God created the Universe. Did I honestly think He couldn’t handle University?
I think it’s a common struggle we, as Christians, face during discernment. From the small choices (what to wear, what to eat, who to hang out with) to the big ones (college, career, marriage, religious life, etc.), it’s only natural of us to ask God to reveal His plans.
We like definitive answers. We like to know where we’re going. But the thing about faith is it’s not up to us. We don’t always know where we’re going… but if we know and love the One leading us, we’ll have all that we could ever need.
Walking Hand in Hand
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah goes to the mountain to encounter the Lord. He watches a strong wind pass by, and then an earthquake, and then a fire. But amid these mighty events, God is nowhere to be found. Finally, a gentle wind blows through. It is then that God reveals Himself.
When we’re discerning, God doesn’t want us testing Him, begging for miraculous answers. He doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes, He’s in the whisper. Perhaps He wants to see the growth we’ll experience in learning to walk hand in hand with Him, even when we don’t know where the path ahead of us leads. That’s what faith is all about, after all, right? Being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we cannot see (see Hebrews 11:1).
A few months ago, I had no idea where I would be spending the next four years of my life. Now, I can’t believe I wasted so much time worrying and doubting. I’m starting to understand that God isn’t always going to set a bush aflame to get my attention. It’s my job to listen up and pray.
In facing uncertainty, I’ve seen firsthand that worrying leads us nowhere. Only in putting our faith in our unchanging and ever-loving God can we hope to attain peace. Finding this faith is difficult, especially without a burning bush or booming voice to reassure us; however, in these times, we’re often challenged to wholeheartedly trust the Father unlike ever before.
Whatever decisions we face, God reminds us not to grow anxious (Phil 4:6), but rather to cast all our worries upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). If He doesn’t give us an easy answer, it’s a chance to deepen our faith, not a reason to doubt that He is guiding our steps. Amid anxiety, doubt, and uncertainty, God will never fail us. We need only trust the Hand that leads us, and wherever our journey takes us, we’ll be okay.
God bless, and know that I’ll be praying for whatever path God calls you to!