Friday, February 28, 2014

Surprised by God

My beautiful friend Brooke recently started blogging (you can find her at http://brookeaparis.wordpress.com/ ) and her post, "How God Seriously Surprised Me Today," inspired me to write a post of my own on the same feeling.

Most of you know that I applied yet again this year to be a Student Minister at CUA for 2014-2015. This was my third time applying, and I felt more confident than ever in my desire to serve in this ministry. I was at a point in my life where I was the strongest I had ever been personally, academically, and spiritually. I had transformed and grown during my semester abroad in Rome the previous spring and had been leading Catholic Athletes for Christ through another year and another successful Athletes Retreat. I had two great interviews where I felt like I really showed the pastoral staff who I was and the gifts I had to offer to the program which has given so much to me. It was my time. I spent the days leading up to the decision in prayer that God would give me peace and for His will to be done, sure that this was what He had planned for me.

Today I found out that I didn't get Student Minister.

"Seriously Surprised by God" is a gentle way to put my initial reaction.

I couldn't believe it. I felt like everything I'd been through during my time at CUA had been preparing me to finally get the position I had so badly wanted since I was just a freshman and yet here I was, experiencing the same rejection I'd had every year since.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm not a little hurt or confused or that no matter what they tell you to do, that I am of course taking this a little bit personally.

But as this day has gone on and I've adjusted to the fact that God's plans for me next year are not what I had so badly wanted and planned for, I've come to a place of peace.

I'm not crushed. I haven't cried. I'm not cursing out God or setting up a meeting with members of the pastoral staff to demand answers explaining their decision. I am slowly but surely adjusting to the idea that God has something greater in mind for me than I could ever know. I don't understand why it was not in His will for me to be a Student Minister, but even if I won't have the honor and privilege of serving Him in the way that I have desired to since I was 18, He will provide a way for me to serve Him next year and one day I will understand.

This is not the news I thought I would get or be sharing today. It's not the reaction I thought I would have. But I sit here now resting in the peace that He has given me, knowing that I am His beautiful and worthy daughter whom He has blessed with countless gifts and talents to offer to those around me, which are no less because of this rejection.

To all my friends who got Student Minister, I am so, so, happy for you. You are about to embark on an incredible year of service. Be assured of my prayers and my joy for you.

To those who experienced the rejection that I did, I pray for your peace and that your desire to serve this campus will not be diminished. Your gifts are true and of God.

Love, Chris






Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Waiting and Preparing

I spent most of Advent reflecting on the meaning of that season- to wait in joyful hope. It occurred to me that the time we set aside before Christmas to await Christ's coming is a lot like the time that couples have during their engagement before their wedding day. Those months are their final chance to make themselves ready for one another before they enter into their vocation, just as Advent is a time for us to prepare for Jesus to come again.

Now another season is upon us. Ash Wednesday is just one week away! Isn't Lent also a time of preparation? I may not be engaged, or even in a relationship, but that doesn't mean I can't take this opportunity to prepare myself to be. In committing to tie myself closer to Christ in anticipation of His Passion and Resurrection, I can bring myself closer to His will for me, whatever it may be. 

I spend a LOT of time wondering about God's will for my life. This means I spend a lot of time reading Jeremiah 29:11-13, which says,

"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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Plans for me to prosper and not to harm me. Plans for my future. 

God has a plan for my life. Not only that, but seemingly a good plan.

Isn't that incredible? Not just for my life, either, but for yours and for your roommates and for your professors and your boss and your little sister and for the guy in line behind you in Starbucks. 

God's got a plan for each and every one of us. And what He wants most is for you to involve Him in it. I mean He straight out says, "come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." God listens. He hears me when I whine about the uncertain future and boys and my struggles and my fears. Which coincidentally all have a lot to do with each other. 

My vocation is to marriage. I know this, I have faith in it, and I feel utterly called to it. 

I've also never had a boyfriend or even something like one. I'm 20 years old.

For a long time, my heart ached over this. I didn't understand why no guys ever liked me and decided I must not be pretty enough, skinny enough, cool enough, etc.

But still, I felt that call to marriage. I didn't write off the vocation to religious life, I painfully and prayerfully discerned it and I know beyond a doubt that it is not for me. So I was still left without an answer. I had never even experienced being in love or being loved in that way, but there was no convincing my heart that there was any other ultimate purpose for it than to love a husband and children. 

My most honest prayer during this time in my life was,

God, I just want to know my last name.

That probably sounds crazy. It's Fontaine, I know, with an 'i' in the middle and that sneaky 'e' on the end that people always forget. But it's not the name I'll always have. It's not the last name that my kids will grow up having. I just wanted to know what it was- who I was going to be, whose wife I was going to become. 

The problem with that is assuming that the most important thing that will change about me once I get married is my last name. My new last name will not redefine who I am. But who I am when I enter into that relationship and how I let myself be changed by it and the unknown husband is important. The best way to have a friend is to be a friend, right? So it follows that the guy God has in store for me might not come into the picture until I'm ready to be the girl God has in mind for that guy. God's timing is far more perfect than mine. So if I haven't met the guy yet, nor admittedly ANY guy yet, then there's a reason. 

I know that I am only 20. I know that it is not that weird to be this age and not have yet experienced being in a relationship. I know I seem like a crazed wannabe stay-at-home mom. But if you know that you are called to marriage, and you know that it is your vocation to love that way, you kinda wanna get to it. 

So, Lent. The time of preparation. I'm challenging myself to take this Lent to accept God's will- more specifically, His timeline. I understand that I may not meet the guy by Easter or be the girl planning a wedding by graduation- I'm not even trying for that, promise. What I want is to take this time set aside during Lent to focus on what I'm going to do for myself BEFORE I meet that guy. Do I want to do a year of service? Get another degree, move across the country? Be a missionary, move to a different country? I can do that. 

I can't just wait for my life to happen to me, or for a guy to introduce himself to me as my future husband. (Have to say though, that would make for quite an interesting story) I can live my life now, just as fully and happily even without knowing all the answers. I can prepare for my future life by embracing life as I know it now. By earnestly moving toward Christ, I am assuredly moving closer to the one He has set aside for me.



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Normal

I wake up at 7:30 to work out 4 days a week.
I take 6 classes.
I call my mom at least a few times a week.
I don't go out.
I've never had a boyfriend.
I go to Mass every week, sometimes more often.
I can't remember the last time I slept through the night.
I'm saving myself for marriage.

This is my normal. These are also things that categorically and on a regular basis have made me feel like I'm not.

In my dorm, my roommates and I have become used to the screams and yelling of people outside on their way out to bars and parties, while we stay in and bemoan our lives filled with homework and then settle in for the night with wine and a movie, sometimes feeling lame for doing so.

In my classes, I'm surrounded by other Theology majors who seem to have it way more together than me and sometimes make me feel like I'm not Catholic enough or devout enough since I don't usually make it to daily mass or say a rosary.

Sometimes it feels like I have to choose between these two extremes. I can either be a lame homebody who goes to daily mass and only knows how to talk about Jesus and rejects people who watch the Bachelor on premise.

Or I can not care about my grades because that's for nerds and skip class and go out every night and go broke on beer.

I'm saying no to that. I'm not interested in trying to be what people expect from a girl whose a Theology major or feeling like a loser for staying in. I'm living in and embracing the tension between the two extremes. I'm a Theology major who watches The Bachelor every week. I like to take care of myself and for me that means working out when the gym opens and it also means using my 40 minute break between classes to sit in the chapel. I have a drink every now and then with my friends, but I don't enjoy going out and getting wasted. I read blogs of stay at home moms for fun. I can talk to you about my faith, or I can talk to you about you. I feel like I can spread the joy I get from Christ either way.

I'm Chris, and that's my normal. Make up your own normal. We do not have to be our majors, or our hometowns, or our drink of choice. We need you to be you.