From History Nerd to Vocation Director
“I have a Master’s degree in American History…and someday I will use it!”
I use this line a lot! Every time I meet a new person and he or she asks what I do, I begin with this statement. And it’s true – I do have a degree in history and I do hope to someday work in the historical field again.
The journey of life is funny. Since I made my final vows two weeks ago, I have been reflecting on just how I got to the place I am today. How did I go from a shy, history-loving, boyfriend-toting girl to a not-so-shy religious Sister currently working in vocation ministry?
I think that a person’s life journey can often be compared to a trip gone horribly wrong. Imagine you are planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth! Let’s say you’re like me, and like to plan ahead and be ready for all scenarios. You would order your plane tickets nice and early, memorize your flight numbers, and study your layover times. You would secure your Disney World tickets well ahead of time, plan the rides you wanted to go on, confirm your hotel reservations, etc.
Now imagine this happens: On the day of your departure, you oversleep and arrive at the airport late feeling agitated and crabby; your credit card does not work to pay for your luggage; your first flight is delayed and you miss your second one; no one meets you at the airport as planned; Disney World is closed because of an employee strike; the key to your hotel room does not work…and on and on!
Now that would be a nightmare trip! Everything that could go wrong did…and that is how life seems to go sometimes too. Regarding myself, I planned to get married (I did not!); I planned to get embark on a history career (I did not!); and I planned to live somewhere warm (I definitely do not!).
I can almost see God chuckling over our personal plans in life as He watches them change and transform despite our best efforts to carry them out. The good news, is that, unlike our fictional Disney World trip, a major change in one’s life plan does not always mean a nightmare. In fact, people often find true happiness only after their lives change course. This may be hard to see when everything one’s dreamed of is getting turned on its head, but if a person approaches life with an attitude of openness and prayerful discernment, he or she can expect to find authentic happiness. As I often tell discerners, God WANTS us to be happy. He did not create us in His very own beautiful image for us to go around moping because we wished our lives had turned out differently.
Even though I really only use my history education in a direct way when the American History category comes up on Jeopardy (I ROCK at that category!), I am still happy with where I am in my life. I was struck at my Final Profession liturgy with a momentous feeling of peace and joy because I KNEW I was exactly in the right place. I was where God had ultimately been calling me all of my life. Of course one’s life journey is never without bumps and wrong turns – there were many times during my religious formation years when I thought for sure that God had completely messed up and I definitely did not belong in a monastery. However, the sign of a productive journey is that with every roadblock and every stumble, a person gets up and keeps walking forward. My life as a Benedictine Sister at Annunciation Monastery is not perfect by any means, but it is the right path for me. No doubt about it, life as a Sister has been an amazing and surprising trip so far. And next up in my life plans? A trip to Disney World of course! I better get planning!