“Go, sell what you have…”

Getting compliments on your personal belongings takes on a whole new meaning when you’re about to get rid of everything you own. In recent months I’ve made more than one loose acquaintance — including my doctor — very uncomfortable when I eagerly asked, “Do you want it?” after they told me they liked something I was wearing.

A good friend who is also hoping to enter religious life this summer put it so well: getting rid of your belongings in preparation for religious life is like standing on a precipice looking into eternity with everything that has always distracted us suddenly behind us. There’s nothing left: just me and the Great Unknown. In fact, as he pointed out, everyone will end up at this moment at some point in their lives, we’re just getting there a little earlier.

I keep running back to that scene in the Gospel, when the rich young man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. He has kept all the commandments, but he knows there’s something more. And Jesus looks at him, loves him, and says, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mk. 10:21). The young man’s reaction — going away sad because he had many possessions — has always broken my heart. In the past few years especially I’ve found myself wanting to shake him. You’ve just been offered the world, I want to shout at him. How can you walk away?

But here I am, faced with a similar invitation, and every day there’s a little twinge. That little porcelain boat from the Dollar Store my sister gave to me for Christmas back in 1991 — it’s a silly trinket, but I’ve carried it around for years, and I admit to a tremor at the thought of letting go. The baby blanket my five-year-old self used to use as a royal robe when playing dress-up … my books and my piano … so many of things we take for granted, right down to the use of that comfortable word, “mine.”

Yes, even letting go of “my” friends is proving to be a lot harder than I ever expected (and I never fooled myself that it would be easy).

God doesn’t ask any of us for halves. That’s what I’m facing in so many concrete ways right now. When he asks us for everything, he means everything. (And by the way, he asks all of us for everything.) He pushes us past the point of comfort, even past discomfort, to that place where the tears start and we cry, “But I can’t!”

This isn’t relegated to those of us discerning religious vocations. We’re all called to this. It’s part and parcel of the Christian life, dare I say, of being human. When you feel you’ve done enough, you’re wrong. There’s no such thing as “enough” for the soul that’s marching towards heaven. The question should always be, “All right, Lord. What now?” Because we can’t give him everything in one action, once. We’re temporal creatures, constantly moving from one minute to another, so giving our all must also be a temporal thing, an act repeated at every moment until we finally reach eternity.

And when you get right down to the nitty-gritty doing of it? It’s epic.

 

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A new profile — in discernment

I was blown away over the last two months by people’s generosity in helping me pay off my student loans so I can enter the convent at the end of the summer. So many people have been so incredibly good to me. Now I’m sharing the story of a young lady I recently met who is in a similar circumstance. She hopes to join the cloistered Dominicans in Linden, Virginia, but has to pay off some $30,000 in debt first. I know many people have approached me recently asking if they can help, and I’ve had to turn you away as my goals are met. Would you be willing to consider helping my sister instead? She’ll be doing me and my community and the whole Church an incalculable good by devoting her life to prayer. 

But I’ll let her do the talking. Please help her if you can, and help spread the word by sharing her link, or this post, or both!  

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Maria Gonzalez
I am 28 years old, and was raised Roman Catholic since infancy. I thought about becoming consecrated to God in religious life about 4 years ago, immediately after I graduated college in 2010. Like most college experiences, mine was entangled in worldly distractions. This was because I was not firmly rooted in faith as a youth. I mostly went through the motions while in Catholic School. Therefore, I was easily taken by this current once I entered college at the University of New Hampshire. During this time, I did not have the support of positive influences or that of family, nor did I realize that I needed them. I never gave thought to religious life. I slowly stopped attending mass regularly shortly after starting college because I hadn’t found any Catholic fellowship or support on campus. The friendships I made were merely superficial. This left my heart empty and searching for God, though I was unaware of it. When I perceived it, I thought it homesickness. I tried to correct this through dating. The foundation of these relationships were also based superficially, and therefore destined for failure. God then intervened and moved me by his Divine mercy to the healing of these wounds which I was acting out of.
One particular day in May 2010 while in adoration, I was inspired by the awareness of the mercy of the Holy Spirit at work in my life at this time. I was filled with great gratitude in my heart for this, and I felt moved to offer God my life totally. Immediately upon returning to a life of grace, the Holy Spirit was able to inspire me with God’s will which was given to me at baptism, so I started discerning different religious communities. As my relationship with God grew, so did his grace in my soul and his will became apparent to me in the desires of my heart. I knew that I wanted to give my life totally to God and his Church in union and in imitation of Christ crucified for humanity.
So I started studying and contacting contemplative communities. Through discovering St. Dominic and his spirituality, I discovered myself truly. As of Jan. 2014, I have found my life’s dream in a Monastery of cloistered Dominican Nuns in Linden, Virginia. I am greatly honored and thrilled to have found out about my acceptance this January! The only obstacle before I can enter is having to pay off all my student loan debt. This is because as a contemplative cloistered community, the nuns do not work in the world earning income. Therefore, they cannot afford to take on any debt. A nun’s apostolate, unlike active sisters who work in the world such as social work or teaching, consists in the offering of all of their prayers, works, joys, and sorrows for the Church and the world in solidarity with Christ crucified on the cross, as a Eucharistic offering. This is for the salvation of humanity, the success of the preaching mission of the Dominican friars, and the good of the Church. They are considered the powerhouse of prayer for the Church. As St. Therese of Lisieux put so eloquently, “In the Heart of the Church my mother, I will be love.” Nuns mediate the needs of the world to God, and God to the world through their prayer.
I have been actively fundraising on my own through the generosity of my family and friends through my website: www.youcaring.com/sendmariatotheconvent. I will carefully make a record of what each person has given me and acknowledge it in a thank you letter. I have every intention of making final vows and living out my whole life in the monastery. If for whatever reason I leave at any point, I am committed to repaying everyone the full amount donated who made it possible for me to enter through their generosity.
I would be forever grateful and promise to pray for yourself, your loved ones, and your intentions both now and while in the monastery. God bless you.

 

What’s your story?

I’m one of those obnoxious Catholic girls who loves hearing people’s vocation stories. And now that I’ve been on this journey myself, I love it even more. I’ll track down just about anything in a habit and demand to know how it got there, and in recent months I’ve been more brazen than ever. 

As I prepare to enter the postulancy this August, the focus on people’s stories has struck me in a new way. Each of us has a story, and those stories should be shared. Really, they’re begging to be, but so often we don’t bother to ask. For some reason, religious vocation strips away some of those barriers, and I’m constantly surprised, humbled, and yes – delighted by it. 

When you tell people you’re entering a convent, they don’t just ask to hear your story – though they usually want to know – they want to tell you theirs. The receptionist at my dentist’s office told me all about his experience in a Catholic elementary school where he was taught by kind nuns. An old colleague talked about visiting his grandmother in Peru, and playing in the sun in a local convent’s courtyard where she went often to visit. Another colleague talked about being let out of detention in his Catholic high school by a sympathetic sister. Friends and acquaintances have discussed their own discernment experiences, or family members or friends who entered religious life.

I know for myself, I worry about being rude or pushy if I ask people (other than religious, of course) to tell me about themselves – beyond the typical name, place of origin, job description. I struggle with the sense of encroaching on someone’s boundaries if I try to scrape the surface. And I hesitate to share my own story because I don’t want to be the over-sharer. I certainly don’t want to tell my story only to be ignored or half-heard or (worst of all) judged. But I’m coming to realize that our stories aren’t for ourselves alone; they demand to be shared, and there’s a lot of joy in sharing and encountering someone else in a deeper way through hearing about their experiences.

Some of my friends went on a road trip a couple of years ago, and one of them suggested sharing life stories during the long drive. It was a surprising and I think profound experience for them, and I’ve always been a little disappointed that I missed it, though I’ve been filled in on some of the stories since. Even now, it’s great to watch them reminisce about that experience. Clearly, it made their friendship much deeper.

Another friend once surprised me at a large gathering when he asked a complete stranger, clearly searching for a good conversation topic, “So – what’s your story?” Even more surprising was the person’s response. She brightened up and started talking. Granted, some people might find such a question invasive, but I think there’s a universal desire to be drawn out of ourselves in some way. We all want to share our stories, and to have someone else listen to them and even enter into them with us.

Of course, there are some parts of our stories that aren’t meant to be communicated. We each live a unique, individual life, and some parts are meant to be wrapped up in a secret place shared only between ourselves and our Maker. There’s a great moment in C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy, when one of the main characters, Aravis, learns that her maid was severely beaten because Aravis tricked her so she could run away from home. She knew when she left that the maid would probably be beaten, but she didn’t care. Now she’s sorry, and she asks Aslan if the girl will be all right. Aslan answers, “Child, I am telling you your story, not hers.”

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There’s a fine line between sharing stories and just plain nosiness, and that can be a hard thing to discover. But we have a duty to be ready to encounter the other, and even to invite them to the encounter, and one of the first ways to do that is through sharing who we are, where we’ve been, what we’ve done.

Like Mary in the gospel of Luke, carrying Christ to her cousin, each of us can and should say, “The Almighty has done great things for me” – and I’m aching to tell you about it, and to hear what he has done for you. 

-Mabel

Profile in the Gap: Marie Kelly

Profiles in the Gap

Marie Kelly

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Marie Kelly is an accountant who lives and works in Northern Virginia.

Did you expect this time of singleness?

For me, “expect” is the wrong word. Since I have never been technically part of a couple, I have been in a season of singleness for a long time that I did think would end earlier. I am glad it isn’t over quite yet, if I am honest.

When I was 7, my teacher asked her class to draw a picture of what they would like to be when they grew up. My understanding of that question was framed in a vocational reference by my parents. I only knew 3 options: marriage, single life or religious life. I thought through the 3 options for the first time ever, reasoning that marriage didn’t look fun. I knew nothing about singleness so that left only one option: I drew a picture of a nun in her Dominican habit. When the rest of my class showed off their pictures of firemen and ballerinas I realized I felt gypped! I didn’t know those were options since I understood the question differently.

In high school, my angst centered around desire for freedom and independence. I longed to make my own decisions, go where I wanted and explore the world on my own. My time as a single has afforded me those opportunities. I have grown deeply as a person these years and now have accumulated both knowledge and wisdom to share. As a teen, I hoped to avoid being “trapped” by marriage too soon. Often, this struggle seems unique to my experience.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career?

Yes to both! I selected accounting early on for its unique match of my interests and abilities before I ever knew what accounting entailed. Although I struggled at jobs where I found little purpose in my work, I find great meaning in working for the Church as an accountant. I love being a Catholic accountant. It’s such a unique skill set I can offer in a ministry setting. Often I feel I am helping serve Christ’s physical needs through proper stewardship of donated resources. I feel my job is on the pulse of the Church, as I see the lifeblood of ministry flow through my desk. I love it.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook as a single young adult?

Faith is crucial to me. Without Christ sustaining me day in and day out, my walk would be unbearable. It is so easy to compare, become bitter, just not have a light to offer the world without Jesus. I am very at peace with where God has me today. I passed the 30 milestone and life continued. I see God’s Providential care for me each day. I know He loves me. When He needs me to serve Him in a vocation of love, He will give me the graces for that time of my life. Until then, today is enough.

Profile in the Gap: Marian Keiselbach

Profiles in the Gap

Marian Keiselbach

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Marian Keiselbach is a nurse in the Northern Virginia area.

Did I expect this time of singleness? I don’t know. Depends on when you asked me. When I was eight, I thought that the end of the world would come well before I was 21. When I was 16, I thought I had my whole entire life completely figured out and therefore how could there possibly be gap time. And when I was 21, and my life plan of 16 had fallen through and thrown me flat on my face, I thought the rest of my life would be an unending limbo of fog and unfulfilled desires. I’m 27 now and this “time of singleness” is well upon me, so there is nothing to expect or not expect, there is only the day behind me to be reflected upon and the day ahead of me to be embraced and lived. 

Married, celibately consecrated, or in the grey in between, I seek and hope that l will continue to seek to find my fulfillment in my relationship with… you guessed it…. God. I also can’t help but wonder if I really will feel more fulfilled once I’ve “minded the gap” and entered the train. I know that I’m crazy restless right now, and some of it is from the evil one driving me to despair and some of it is from the Lord urging me toward the Father, but I can’t really imagine that getting married or joining a convent will all of a sudden provide the magic cure for my restlessness. Surely the only true fulfillment will be in heaven. Maybe I will feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled in a different manner or a little less, but I think until I’m face to face with God forever I’ll always be searching. And for me this is one of the greatest consolations of this between time. My angst (I think) is not because I’m in the  wrong place or doing the wrong thing or not doing enough, its because Eve ate that damn apple and Adam stood by and watched.  

That being said, I do love my job. I’m a nurse and I thank God daily for my work. (Although last week when my patient vomited all over my new sneakers,  I believe I may have been a little less appreciative.) My work challenges me, pushes me, makes me more generous, gives me structure and discipline, and provides an outlet for my desire to serve. I’m also fulfilled by my many relationships, and I rejoice that I have time to make new friends and to love and grow with my old ones.

Finally, the life of the mind is another truly satisfying aspect of the single life. If I was married with children or caught up in the responsibilities of communal life, would I have the same luxury of free time to study my Spanish, visit the many museums in the area and of course read, read, and read some more? Probably not. So, although I think it’s about time the Lord revealed His will for grown up me, and if He would move it along a little I would be very grateful, I nevertheless daily thank Him for the wonderful and satisfying things He has given me, and I strive to continue to have as much fun as I possibly can in the meantime.

 

 

A new trajectory

I am learning through experience that “the gap” changes and takes on different aspects as you continue to journey through it. Some months it can seem like trudging along at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, while other times it’s just a footbridge over a small creek. There’s a temptation to look at our lives now and assume they’ll always be this way, that we’ve finally got it just about figured out, that the journey will only get easier from here.

Life has thrown me a number of curveballs over the past eighteen months, knocking down each of my carefully constructed paradigms, from my comfortable career, my ambitions and goals, to my narrow self-perception and even my relationships. I have been forced to admit that I don’t know what’s coming next, that I don’t have all the answers (I don’t have many answers at all), that despite all my introspection I don’t even know myself all that well. I’ve been pretty shaken up, readers, and the process of recovery and healing has taken a long time and led me into some situations I never thought I’d be part of, but it has been truly beautiful. I wouldn’t undo it for the world.

The shakeups in my career and the almost subconscious resetting of my ambitions in the last year undid a lot of things for me, but it also opened me up in ways I never expected. Readers, I’ve been grappling with whether or not to broach this on the blog, but I’m far enough in now that to say nothing would be dishonest. After years of assuming my “life in the gap” would end in marriage, I have found myself gently led down a different path. It began to dawn on me during Holy Week last year that perhaps I am being asked to consider a different life. It took a few months for things to become clear, but I have been actively discerning a vocation to the religious life since last summer. Without going into imprudent detail, I will only say I continue to be met with green lights as I walk this unexpected and beautiful path.

For now, I’m still “in the gap,” even if my trajectory is a little bit different now. This blog will go on, and hopefully at least some of my readers will stick with me. I’m excited to continue this journey, to see where my gap leads now that I have taken some first steps, and to share where I can.

-Mabel

Profile No. 21: Dustin Siggins

 Profiles in the Gap

Dustin Siggins

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 Dustin Siggins is a reporter in the Washington, D.C., area. 

Did I expect to be single at the age of 28-and-a-quater? Simply put…no.

I had my first crush in September of 7th grade, and at 15 started looking for the right woman to marry. I figured it would take some time to find the right young lady for me, and by the time I got out of college we’d be ready for marriage.

Over the next several years, I was met with disappointment after disappointment. Starting in February of 7th grade – 1999, which was when the aforementioned crush and her boyfriend of several months broke up – a string of failures found me at every turn. At one point I was 0-17. For you non-sports fans, that’s zero “yes” answers and 17 “no” responses to my asking girls on dates.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I analyze. A lot. More on that later.

Finally, for a period of approximately eight months, good luck was mine. I dated a young lady for a month – she was vacationing for the summer in my hometown – and then dated my then-best friend for several months. The end of this latter relationship left me quite depressed for months, a state of mind that was finally broken by the stress and distraction of Basic Training after high school graduation.

I entered college quite optimistic about dating. My string of bad luck was over, if the prior year was any indication! Alas, by the time I graduated college I had dated one young lady for a month, and that was about it. Turns out, being an abstinent, pro-life, weekly attending Catholic made me a radical even among my fellow Catholics.

Thus it was that by the time I was a junior in college my regular commentary on dating was that I had accepted that I was going to be the 80-year old virgin. I told people I would make a movie out of it, and make lots of money – the PG version of “The Forty-Year Old Virgin.”

When I came to D.C. my optimism had rebounded, especially as I learned how culturally and geographically unaware I had been. Here I was not a radical, extreme Catholic – who knew the Northeast was more liberal than the rest of the country? Not me, at the time – and I hoped I had matured enough to change my dating luck around.

Again, luck was not mine. Turns out women don’t like it when a guy shakes hands on a first date (something I have remedied since). The Southern women found me a bit…blunt…and too intense. And despite my preference to become friends with a young lady before formally pursuing a relationship, my personality was putting me so far in the dreaded Friend Zone it was like being in the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by sharks. With chains.

In other words, women liked being my friend. But not my girlfriend. (Though this has its own advantages – the benefits of friendship, the benefits of hanging out with very attractive women, and none of the emotional stress of trying to date said friends.)

In 2011 I utilized online dating for seven months, and finally started “playing the field.” Effective though these tactics were, they never felt comfortable, though online dating did lead to a short-lived long-distance relationship. And then, finally, luck was with me as I dated a woman for almost five months and almost fell in love with another later in 2012, despite the brevity of the second relationship (two months). In early 2013, one of my closest friends and I discussed dating, but because of our religious differences we decided to simply maintain a very close friendship.

So where does this leave me, as 2014 nears? It’s been a tough year, I’ll admit. My younger siblings are both getting married next year. The average age of marriage for men is 28, which puts me behind the eight-ball, and for most of my life I’ve thought that guys who are unmarried in their late twenties are losers or have gigantic personal flaws. And the constant discussions of discernment in the Catholic community mean the subject is dating is always on my mind.

However, tough times allow for growth, and this year has also been one for large personal growth in certain areas. They include:

  1. A priest told me in July that our goal in life is to be a saint. Everything else helps us on that path. It was a good reminder about priorities.
  2. Despite rumors to the contrary, I talk far less than I want to. The filter between my brain and mouth is gigantic – which should scare those of you who know how much I talk. I find this filter necessary to strategize how best to talk to people in life, especially since my default setting is to be extremely choleric, and this can alienate people. However, a friend recently told me I should not worry about filtering because of what other people might think. While we all have our flaws, by being so tactical, I am not being who God designed and intended for me to be. To a degree, I’m letting the flaws of others dictate my behavior, which is not productive for anyone.
  3. Clearly, I am someone who analyzes and thinks a lot. While this is naturally part of who I am, and thus does not paralyze me as it might others, it can also create an inefficient style of behavior. As my friend Isaiah once put it: “Dustin, I love you, but you have got to learn to take yourself less seriously.” To put it another way, by thinking and analyzing so much, I’m essentially trying to control my life to a fault, instead of putting it in God’s hands.

In short, I need to learn to relax and go with the flow instead of always trying to create the flow. For example, my one romantic idealistic trait – wanting to be one of those old couples that’s been married for 70 or more years – may need to take second-fiddle to the rest of my life. And rather than get frustrated when people who don’t follow key Church teachings get engaged and married, while I follow them and remain single, I need to remember being a saint is the first and foremost goal.

Marriage is not a competition I have to win. We’re trying to be saints. Comparing myself to my siblings, or the average age of marriage, is to miss the forest for the trees.

So where am I as we enter 2014? Frustrated, absolutely. Recognizing that even at the age of 28 – a full-fledged adult – I have a lot of growing up to do? Grudgingly, yes. I’m trying to not miss the forest for the trees, and remember that people mean well when they say contradictory things like “Be yourself, but be low-key,” or the falsely uplifting “The right girl is out there for you!”

So what should I expect out of life right now? I don’t do “New Year’s Resolutions,” as self-improvement should be a continuous process, but I think I’m going to prioritize a few things this year:

  1. A friend gave me a piece of advice recently that I’m going to take into consideration: Rather than focus on multiple aspects of life at the same time, try to focus on one aspect to make it as successful as possible. She suggested one’s career path, and indicated this would be a good idea in order to be happier, and happiness is attracting to the opposite sex. I think I’ll take her advice, with a twist – prioritize everything but dating, and let the dating happen as it will.
  2. I’m going to work on being more aware of why I act as I do. I always apply my friend Ben’s advice – “Don’t care what people think, but don’t give them reason to think badly of you” – but I’m going to try to keep the latter mindset balanced with greater emotional awareness.
  3. A retired priest advised me to just be Dustin. Let’s see what that looks like, rather than being “Dustin who’s constantly being hard on himself.”

In the end, the goal of every human being should be to walk on the path God has for us, and be happy regardless of what life throws at us. We should be whole people as much as we possibly can – and, in my case, if a cute girl walks across my path, life’s a little more attractive right now. And if she becomes my wife, my ability to walk on the path of God’s Will will be more complete than it was before our paths crossed.

Profile No. 18: Claire

Profiles in the Gap
Claire
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Claire is an anonymous Catholic blogger in the UK. She blogs at Everything Is Grace. Follow her on Twitter, @CCGraceBlog.
Did you expect this time of singleness?
When I was a kid I had a lot of plans and expectations as to what would be happening in my life at the age of 25. I had envisaged a big beautiful house, a lovely husband and at least one bouncing baby on my knee… The actual picture of my life is vastly different from this. If you must know, I recently moved back in with my parents, I don’t drive, I don’t have any prospective boyfriends, and I work two part-time jobs in a city that takes me three hours traveling to and from everyday. This was all very unexpected. I may have had a little crisis moment before my 25th birthday where I thought, “Where have I gone wrong?” But I realise that I am probably the happiest I have ever been in my life. Nothing is perfect, nothing is the way I want it to be. But this is what God has made it, and it is the best thing ever.
What did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing? 
I did not expect this time of singleness. I completely assumed that my life was going to go along the same path as everyone else I knew and looked up to. I am not going to lie and say that I am over the moon that I have not fulfilled my goals, but as a priest friend reminded me of this week, it’s not about my goals. My plan is not the plan, His plan. Jeremiah 29:11 is something I try to learn from on a daily basis. God does have a plan, and it could be similar or completely different to the plan teenage Claire had, but whatever it is, He will be executing it in His own time. Meanwhile, what’s happening right now is keeping me with a smile on my face. I am safe, warm, well-fed, nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, surrounded by people I love, and growing into such a beautiful relationship with Christ.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it? 
Ahhh the career question. I work for two different charities – a non denominational pro-life charity and a Catholic charity. All things aside I love what I do. I love the people I work with and for. I love the potential of the places I work in, and what they could do in the future. I love being part of the journey. But I can honestly say this is just a moment in time for me. I dream of bigger and better things. I want to work with people. I want to own my own business. I want to make people happy. I want to bring people closer to Christ. Again, these are a lot of things I want! But it all depends on what He wants.
How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult? 
My faith essentially forms everything about me. I am a very optimistic person, and I believe that this optimism stems from a knowledge of the life God has built for me, and the promise of life with Him forever. I know that anything that goes wrong is not really the end of the world, and I know He looks after me. Having faith means I look at everything very differently — from what I eat, to what I do, who I hang out with, the situations I can get myself into…. down to random things like the charities I can support and the people I vote for. People look at faith as something restrictive, but I see it as something incredibly freeing. Having a life of faith has opened so many doors for me, created so many opportunities and made me who I am today. It definitely reassures me as a single woman. I look at my peers who don’t have faith, but who are single — they throw themselves at every man/woman with a pulse, they crave attention, they crave love, and they look for these things in all the wrong places. I know that Christ loves me more than any man ever could, and I learn each day that this love is enough for me, and anyone that comes along will have to slot in with that love.
Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?
Faith is a challenge and a half; anyone who says it’s easy is talking crazy talk! Picking up the crosses of my life and dealing with them is a challenge. Praying — having a daily conversation with Christ — is a challenge. Blogging is a bit of a challenge for me… and trying to find time to blog is a challenge in itself these days.

If I didn’t worry about being a failure… I would start my own business. I don’t know what it would be though, so some thought would have to be put in that…. I would also put videos on Youtube because I really admire Youtubers (Shaycarl, CTFxC, Datev Gallagher, HeyKayli) and how they inspire many people. But a realistic thing would be to put a photograph on my blog and show it to people I actually know “in real life.” That is a huge challenge to me. But until I get the courage for that…. it’s anonymous blogging all the way.

Profile #8: Cara Hanscom

Profiles in the Gap

Cara Hanscom

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Cara Hanscom is a 1st Grade Teacher living and working in Northern Virginia.

“You’re ready.”

This is what I heard while sitting in a car outside the auto repair shop. The guy who had spent two years sending mixed signals and was at my side to rescue me from my car troubles, was finally outing the reason for his wish-washy behavior and laying down his final decision.

“You’re cute and cool, but…” But is all I needed. I was ready and he wasn’t.

Flash forward three years, just one year shy of being thirty, and I’m still ready, and still waiting. Ready is subjective, though. I may appear ready. I have a masters degree, I have a teaching certification, I have a job, so, yes, the next logical step would be marriage. I also have a strong desire for marriage that began at, oh, I don’t know, age three.

Desire may not be the best qualifier for being ready, then. What I can say is this: I have become better and more ready each day. I have had experiences now that I never would have had with a family in tow. I have had the opportunity to touch hundreds of families’ lives in a way that only the focus of a single person could muster. I have built relationships with people who have helped and continue to help shape me each and every day, and more importantly I have built up my relationship with God. Each day I am more ready and suited to be a wife and mother.

Was I ready three years ago? Yes. Was I ready six years ago? Yes. Am I ready today? Yes. But God’s plans for me are bigger and better than I could ever imagine, so I must trust that I will be better off tomorrow than I am today, and enjoy this time of growth that I have generously been given.

Profile #7: Jen Cox

Profiles in the Gap

Jen Cox

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Jen is a school nurse in Southwest Florida. She blogs at Jumping in Puddles. Follow her on Twitter, @Jen_CoxRN

Just getting back from Spain (!!), and a recent quick trip visiting my brother and his family, planning to fly up to visit family for Christmas and New Year’s, has had me thinking about how awesome my life is these days. In the hum drum of daily life, I don’t always see it, but let’s be honest: my life rocks.

I have this freedom to do what I want, when I want to. Which mostly consists of traveling and visiting all the people I love. Because, let’s face it, that’s all I ever really want to do in the first place. And, I love to travel. So it’s perfect for me! 😉 I can sleep in on the weekends or not. I can go to whatever Mass I want. I can leave my dirty clothes around, because, hey! Who is going to really see them?!

Someday (I hope!) all of this travel … all of this visiting the people that I love the most … all of this “me” time will not be so easy. My focus will be completely different. And when that does happen, it will be hard, I’m sure, but I will be so thankful to be there. But right now: I love it.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have days where I long for my future. The days where the ache of waiting and wondering are really tough. The closer I get to the age of 29 (a little over a month, people!), I question and worry. I struggle with letting my mind wander to my ideal future. This was the age my parents got married, so I have always had it in my head that until then, I was ok. I’ve had to work hard to realize that no matter what plans unfold for me … it’s ok. I’m not the One creating them. I’m just the one trying to follow the best way I know how.

This is the cross that God has given me to bear right now. Do I understand it? No. Do I love it? Obviously not. Do I want to be done with this part? Um, YES! But He is asking me to stick it out and to trust Him.

So, I am. Or, rather, am trying. Really, really hard. I am taking risks (ya know, moving to Honduras a couple years ago, moving to a new state far away from family, etc). I am trying new jobs (school nurse, anyone?!). Trying to make new friends (which has been REALLY hard! Can we talk about what that process is like as we get older? Or is this just me?). Volunteering at church (Eucharistic Minister, youth group). Blogging (I have to include that. It’s kind of a thing in my life now!). Spending as much time as I can with my sweet, sweet goddaughter, and any other little kiddos for that matter. Praying. Going to adoration. Learning to love myself better.  

The desire to be a wife and mom is so deep on my heart, that there are days where I think I am crazy or weird for not having it happen yet. But I brush those thoughts aside, because I know they are not from the One who loves me most. As cliche as it sounds, everything will play out JUST as it’s supposed to. Even if/when it doesn’t fall in line with my own plans. Things will be even better.  

Until then, I am going to just revel in the joy of my life now. I challenge you to do the same! 🙂

Thank you to the ladies of Life in the Gap for giving me the opportunity to reflect. It seriously came at such a wonderful time for me. 🙂 Thank you, also, for this awesome blog!