My whole life was planned out when I stepped onto campus my freshman year. Although I was undeclared, I knew I wanted to major in education and graduate in four years, no more, no less. I was not exactly excited to be starting college, but I was excited to eventually become a teacher. In short, I knew what I wanted in life—but I hadn’t thought too much about what God wanted for my life.
Despite this feeling of certainty, I was not too sure what to expect of the education program. I dove into the work but soon found that I did not particularly like the classes. I hoped that the time I would spend observing real-life classrooms would be different.
I was placed in a school not far from my house. On my first day, I was nervous, but walking through the halls of the elementary school reminded me of childhood. Every room was filled with bright, smiling faces. What else could one want in a job? And yet, to my surprise, I did not enjoy being there. I could not pinpoint exactly why I wasn’t enjoying it, but I began to feel unsettled. My plan was not working out.
I finished up the semester knowing that I couldn’t continue with this rigorous program. Unsure of where to turn, I went to the career center, a building on the edge of campus. I took a test. I waited for the results. This test told me that my personality would work well in some type of service or in education. I was disappointed. The test confirmed my original plan, but I couldn’t shake my discomfort with it. I felt no closer to reaching my goal. My counselor and I decided that I should choose a major that seemed more open to other possibilities and try to see where it would lead. The hope was that I would find my passion there. I chose my favorite subject from high school: English.
I started my English classes during the next semester, and I suddenly felt at peace. The professors were passionate and helpful. Homework became enjoyable. I knew, too, that the peace I felt came from something other than the work itself. I had been worrying so much that I hadn’t taken the time to ask where God was leading me, but I now knew that he had been there all along. This peace I felt was his presence and will being revealed to me in his time.
I enjoyed my English classes immensely. I formed great relationships with professors and made friends who shared my interests in things like Chaucer and James Joyce’s Dubliners. I started to pray about where this major would eventually lead me. I came up with a few options, including the possibility of becoming a librarian. I had come to enjoy spending my time in libraries and thought that it might be a good fit. They were peaceful and filled with wonderful literature. And so, I began to pursue this new interest. I researched different programs around New York and across the country, and they all seemed extraordinary. At the time, I felt as though this was where God was leading me. And so, I began, once more, to come up with a definitive plan for this next stage of my life. Graduate school would be the next step.
God, however, had a different plan. I was given the opportunity, through the English department, to go to Ireland in the summer before I began my senior year. It was an eye-opening, amazing experience. Each day was filled with exploration of new landscapes, new food and new people. I explored culture and literature in a new way. I found immense joy while I was there. I could see how God carried me through this time, bringing me to where I needed to be. However, after expanding my worldview, I returned to school less certain of where I wanted—needed—to be. I was still in love with my major, but graduate school now felt confining rather than freeing.
My senior year began with more questions about my future: What are you going to do with your life? What are your post-graduation plans? I cringed. I didn’t have an answer anymore. I began to feel unsure about all of my options. I began to feel extremely anxious. My thoughts constantly revolved around trying to figure out what exactly I was supposed to be doing in order to move along this path of life.
After about a month of this constant worry, I realized that this was not going to get me anywhere. But I felt as though God was silent. I felt abandoned. I drove to my parish and stood in the line for confession. The church was quiet and dim. The line slowly moved and soon my turn came. And so, I spoke with my parish priest about my anxiety about the future and my issue of trusting God. He was compassionate, and he wrote down a simple prayer on a piece of scrap paper and handed it to me. He said to pray it over and over as needed. The paper read: In His hands, in His time. I left the church knowing that I was about to embark on something new.
Sitting in my car, I looked down at the piece of paper and began to pray this prayer. The church parking lot was empty, but I no longer felt alone. God’s loving arms surrounded me. I prayed this prayer over the next few weeks each time I felt the beginnings of impatience. I began this difficult task of learning to trust in God in a way that I hadn’t before. In his hands, in his time. The small scrap of paper that I was given eventually found a home in my wallet. I made a promise to learn how to trust without borders so that I may be where God leads.
In the months since I began to pray this prayer, I have had to accept that God’s time is certainly not our time. This issue of trust, and trust in timing, is one that I am learning to embrace each and every day. I still cringe at the question, What are you going to do with your life? But things are getting better. The Father is continuously holding me in his arms, encompassing me with his love. In hindsight I can see how God led me to where I am now. I have learned that even though God sometimes seems silent, he has not abandoned me and will never forsake me. He simply asks for my trust. I am looking forward to seeing where God leads me, in learning his plan for me, however long it takes.