God’s Story for Us

01A choice 2 (me)Oops! There’s a catch there in my last post when I said I love my plans. The catch is that I don’t just enjoy making plans and rejoicing when they work well. I actually become invested in my plans, to the point that I can make my security revolve around my plans–how well they are working, etc. If you are one of those people that rejoice in saying, “It’s all going according to plan,” then you might also be in danger of absolutizing your plan…or at the very least, making it more important than it was ever meant to be.

Because a plan is a very temporary thing, meant to serve the needs of the moment. It’s not meant to be something that takes over our lives, that becomes more important than its purpose, or the people it involves, even ourselves.

Yet plans can be incredibly helpful and important–in keeping a group on track, in juggling many things at one time, in achieving goals that, without a lot of careful planning, might otherwise be impossible.

Whether you are a pantser or a planner, whether you love plans or hate them, or whether you are somewhere in-between–loving the organization that plans bring, but longing for more spontaneity–you probably aren’t neutral to plans.

The problem with any plan is that it isn’t perfect. No matter how many contingencies we anticipate, it’s likely that something will come up that we couldn’t foresee. And then the plan must be adjusted or replaced with another.

The good news is that the most important plan for you is perfect: perfect for you wherever you are, and flexible when your situation changes, or when you want to shift directions. What plan is that, you wonder? God’s plan.

* * *

Vocational Insight: Religious Life*

For all of us, the future is unknowable. As a religious with the vow of obedience, I don’t have the stability of creating my own plan, of knowing where I’m going to live, or the work that I’m going to be doing. While others can take this stability and this sense of control for granted, they are not part of my life. Often, I have no clue of what’s coming next. I cannot count the times when I’ve needed to change plans for the mission that I’m carrying out midstream. And I honestly never know for sure where I will be or what I will be doing a year from now. Although this might sound difficult to live, the security I have in living the vow of obedience is worth it:

Living well the vow of obedience offers me the certainty that I am doing God’s will, however unexpected it may be.

My vow of obedience demands that I trust in a larger plan that is not my own: in God’s plan for me, as mediated through my superiors. Though at times I may struggle in the moment (or the first weeks or months) to accept God’s plan for me, the truth is that every time I’ve been able to step back and look at my life, it’s clear that God’s love guides the story of my life. God’s plan has proven  over and over again to be the best for me.

*For those who are  discerning their vocations, I’ll occasionally offer an insight from the various states in life. Naturally, since I’m a religious sister, my personal insights will most often be about religious life. But I’ll try to find others to offer spiritual insights into the vocation to marriage, priesthood, and the single life too.

True Story: What It’s Like To Be Married to Jesus

SrHelenaRSister Helena Raphael Burns, FSP, a sister in my community, recently published the story of her discernment titling it: What It’s Really Like To Be Married To Jesus. It’s a fun read, but also offers some very helpful insights for those who are discerning their vocations, especially to  religious life.

My favorite line from Sr. Helena’s story:

This is what you’re [everyone is] supposed to think when you see a nun: “Yup! God is the Spouse of every soul, the Spouse of my soul.

When we live our vocations with authenticity–marriage, priesthood, religious life, single life–they complement and strengthen each other. Enjoy her story!

A couple weeks ago, I put out a call for questions about discernment, thinking that maybe Friday’s post could be a Q & A. Although a number of readers emailed me, only a couple of questions came up about discernment, mostly about discerning religious life, or what it’s like entering a religious community. I’ll be answering those questions shortly, but I just want to remind you that I’m happy to answer questions–and provide a forum where we can explore discernment together. For now, the best way to send me questions is to “comment” on one of my posts or send me an email. Questions sent to me on Twitter will probably reach me if you use @SisterMPaul, but questions on Facebook won’t reach me for now. (I haven’t been able to set up Facebook’s notifications so that I’m not inundated by all kinds of information that takes too much time to sort through. Hopefully I’ll figure out the settings some day soon!)

I look forward to hearing from you and continuing on our discernment journeys together!