Profile No. 9: Angela Lademan

Profiles in the Gap

Angela Lademan

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Angela Lademan is a youth minister living and working in Northern Virginia.

In my 26 years of life, I have learned one thing: Never. Make. Plans. The Lord always changes them. I don’t know if this is true for everyone (maybe most other people are more in tune to what God wants for their lives and plan accordingly from the beginning), but for me, I have rarely made a plan that ever worked out according to “the plan.” And you know what, it’s okay. God’s a little more creative than I am, and He has more confidence in me than I have in myself. So, it’s made for a much more exciting life than I could have dreamed up.

Six years ago, I studied abroad in Austria. The last day I was there, the Student Life Director said something I providentially needed to hear. He asked me what I was going to do once I graduated, and I told him that I didn’t know, I would just see what God wants. He gently but firmly replied, “But Angela, you need to do your part and let the Lord do the rest.”

This conversation has often replayed in my mind as I pick up the pieces of broken plans and gear up for another turn in the road. Sometimes I want to just stop walking and say, “What the heck, Lord! Fine, you pick me up and put me where you want me. I’m done and not contributing to this journey anymore.” But, Mark’s advice keeps me walking down the road and rolling with the punches. I have to keep moving in order to encounter the world, and to meet the new and unexpected people and experiences the Lord throws in my direction.

In the last four years of my life, according to the plan (you know, the nice little Catholic girl plan), I would have gotten married out of college and started a family and would be sitting at home all day in my perfect house in my perfect 50’s housewife outfit with my perfect “Leave it to Beaver” children (because those exist). Sorry, I know, can’t any of us women be a little more creative with the story we write for ourselves? While this is a beautiful story, what I think most of us women don’t realize is that in order to have this “perfect” little “Leave it to Beaver” family, you have to be ready to be a real woman, a real wife, and a real mother. Otherwise you are just playing house, and when the hardships come, you don’t know what to do with them (’cause, heck, nothing bad or unpleasant ever happened in “Leave it to Beaver”). Now, I still don’t know what the Lord is preparing me for, but I think there is no better boot camp than having a few years of singleness.

I wish I could say I’ve spent these years embracing every moment. I haven’t. It’s hard to detach from the plan. But even if I haven’t appreciated every moment in the present, I am looking back and am so grateful for every difficult experience, every unknown move, and every unexpected friendship. Every experience makes me ponder who I am, why I am doing what I’m doing, and what I want for my life. While I haven’t figured any of these things out completely, I have more and more opportunities to discover and become that woman the Lord wants me to be.

Highlights of the last few years: European travel and the Bahamas; missionary work with college, high school, and grade school students; living in four different states; deciding on a Friday morning to run away for the weekend (just because I can); speaking to large groups of teens and seeing them completely engaged; walking down the aisle in front of several best friends; letter-writing to close friends as they journey through discerning God’s will for them to be priests and religious; realizing that my workday consisted of listening to and praying with a young adult or teen who came into my office crying over something; finding myself in front of over 100 8th graders and bursting with joy to tell them that God wants so much for them; running around like a crazy person with paint all over my face followed by 10 2nd-4th grade boys because I was “Chief” for the week at camp; a half marathon; flying in a private jet; and the list goes on… But at the end of it all, finding myself in adoration and realizing that nothing else in my life has been constant except for the Eucharist, and realizing that at the end of the day that’s all that matters.

So, if one day I find myself in my perfect little “Leave it to Beaver” life with healthy children and a happy husband, it will be because I’ve had a few years to learn to persevere through struggle and hardship, and because I learned that most things are actually a gift, and that faithfulness, no matter where it looks like it is going to bring me, is the only way God can bring about the most and best in my life.

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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!

Looking back, forging ahead…

This blog turned three yesterday. 

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What started in December 2010 as a combination of venting, catharsis, and some vague hopes of maybe writing a book someday has gradually become something more important, at least to me. It’s become an opportunity to journey with so many other people living the same state in life and trying to figure out why they’re here — “stuck,” as we so often feel, in the gap and not sure what God wants out of our lives.

I’ve been gratified, humbled, and often inspired over the years by hundreds of conversations with friends and acquaintances, both in person and online, about this life in the gap and what we’re called to do with it. Even if this silly little blog serves no other purpose in the vast scheme of things, it has been an invaluable aid to me in my own journey, and a source of real consolation in the darker times, when the road ahead rolls on with no apparent direction. 

Someone recently told me that “life in the gap” isn’t something Christians should celebrate. The argument went, basically, that those of us who are still single well into our twenties and even thirties are products of a culture that prolongs adolescence, elevates career, and encourages us to push off our vocation as long as possible. It was odd to hear this argument against the very concept of my blog (and, actually, the very relevance of my day-to-day life, if you think too hard about it) expressed so directly. For it was exactly this unspoken attitude I started the blog to fight back against. 

Here’s a little quiz for my readers:

Raise your hand if you’re a Catholic (or Christian) single adult who has decided, “Vocation will be nice…in about ten years. For now I’m going to go at it alone and work my job and go to parties and just enjoy being single.” 

Okay, so a few of you probably did raise your hands. Most people who feel this way also probably don’t get a whole lot of consolation or help from my blog (but maybe I’m wrong?), though I do hope you’ll continue to read it and draw something from it anyway.

Now raise your hand if you’re a Catholic (or Christian) young adult who has been waiting for a year — or two, three, four, five, ten, fifteen years — to meet someone you feel called to marry, or for a vocational call, or for anything at all to remind you that God hasn’t retired into the heavens and forgotten all about you and your life. Raise your hand if you’ve ever cried yourself to sleep trying to figure out what the hell you’re doing wrong, because the years drag wearily on and you’re not sure that your life isn’t a complete waste of space. 

Anyone?

If that rings true for you, know that I started this blog in December 2010 for you.

We’re not called to live a prolonged adolescence, and the point of Life in the Gap has never been to encourage the selfish, undisciplined, live-for-the-moment lifestyles touted in sitcoms and tabloids and held up as the model for our generation. Instead, the blog was meant to start a dialogue about the ways in which we can be fully active, faithful, mature, and generous adults even as we work and pray to discern the “big-‘V’ Vocation” God has in store for us. How do I turn my career into a prayer, since this seems to be where God wants me right now? How do I love my neighbors, build community, and die to myself as a single young adult? How do I take possession of my own life and turn it into a song of praise, even while I feel so often stuck in a sort of limbo?

Those are the questions Life in the Gap continues to explore.

Reading the December profiles that have come in so far, I’ve been moved and touched by people’s stories about using this time to the fullest, to grow closer to God, and to wait with patience. I can’t wait to see more of them. And I look forward to diving deeper into these issues in 2014, confident that God does have a role for each of us in His plan, and that he always gives us the present moment to begin to listen to His voice and do as He asks, even in the smallest things.

–Mabel