I often tell people that in the world of being a mother in ministry, I’ve often felt that I can’t win. Though opinions can be all over and in between, there are two perspectives that I have had to continuously confront over the past few years:
1. The best thing a mother can do is be at home with her children so she can be attentive and present to their needs,
2. The best thing a mother can do is pursue her passions and things that bring her to life so she can bring that life into her family.
I have been judged by those who believe in number one, and passionately supported by those who believe in number 2. I have been told that at the final judgment the only thing that will be considered is how I raised my children, and have also been told that I have a responsibility to represent the countless women/mothers/young adults/people of color with the platform that I have been afforded. I have struggled in the last few years trying to figure out what the best thing is for me and for my family.
Is the best thing to be at home full time? Is the best thing to pursue my passions and work that I find to be life giving? Is the best thing to spend the early years with my children while they’re growing? Or to work for the Lord and take them along for the adventure?
After five years of marriage and four years of motherhood I think I’ve finally figured it out..
The best thing for my family is for me to do whatever the heck God is asking me to do.
So what is this really about?
The past few years I’ve been discerning a career move. My job in campus ministry has been amazing and life giving – but is also incredibly demanding with regards to my time and energy. It has required a lot of sacrifice for my family, as crazy schedules of nights and weekend work are the norm, and limited staff (2 to be exact) makes being a jack of all trades and being on call necessary. That being said, I have been a missionary through and through since I graduated from college – I know nothing else. Crazy hours and schedules, being on call for whatever may arise – those are all things that have been a normal part of my daily grind. And lets be honest – as draining as it can be, I love being able to do what I do.
In the past year and a half as discernment has gotten to be more intense and intentional, key moments have helped me continue where I was. I had many moments of grace where I was able to see what God was clearly asking me in the “now”, and I knew that my job in campus ministry was where He wanted me for the moment. In the last year there have been major breakthroughs, changes, and trailblazing moments that have confirmed this time and time again. We’ve been able to not only grow as a ministry, but have also focused on formation and deepening of the roots and foundation, mainly working to create a community grounded and rooted in the Lord first and foremost.
I’ve also felt a responsibility to stay where I am. I am constantly reminded of the fact that I am in a privileged position and am able to influence decision making in a tangible way. I’m not afraid to admit that there is a glass ceiling for women, mother’s, young people, and people of color within the church – and the fact that I have been able to break through it is an amazing thing. There have been countless situations where I am the only woman, young adult, mother, person of color, and even the only person from all of those categories, in meetings where important decisions are made. It has been a humbling experience to be able to chime in and give input from a perspective that would otherwise go unrepresented. I recognize the important of being given a seat at the table, and I know that if I don’t take that seat, it doesn’t mean that it will be given to someone else.
Fast forward to just a few months ago, I knew that my heart was being moved in a new direction. The reality of the demanding schedule of campus ministry only became more and more evident as my two tiny toddlers started to get older and more aware of my crazy work schedule. The more I entered into prayer, the more I felt that the need to slow down and stabilize my schedule for the sake of my family. And as simple as that may sound, for a person who has literally only worked in ministry, and particularly intense ministry at that, it was quite a hard discernment. As crazy as my job is, I do find it to be incredibly life giving. Being able to work closely with young people during a crucial moment in their lives is a such a gift, and my children have gained numerous ates, kuyas, and priest friends through my work.
As my discernment got more intense, my spiritual director cautioned me against trying to find a formula or an quick answer, as choosing between two goods is never an easy task. He advised me not to look at consolation, joy, or even peace and to instead focus solely on drawing close to the Lord and asking him where he wanted me to be. Even if that meant something difficult, even if that meant something that didn’t bring me peace, or that brought me into uncharted territory. He assured me that peace would come through my faithfulness in my pursuit of the Lord’s will.
That brings us to now. I started applying for jobs as part of my discernment process, and was offered a job, still within the Catholic world, still within the realm of service and mission, but with set office hours. And as I faced the choice of continuing in campus ministry or venturing into the 9-5 work world, I knew what God was asking of me. I knew this opportunity had been presented to me at the right moment, confirming the movements in my heart to make a career move that would provide me with a more regular schedule. So I accepted the job offer, and submitted my resignation.
I’ll be with the Newman Center through mid-January to help with the transition. And though breaking the news to people, particularly my team, has been difficult, there is a beauty in knowing that they understand the sacrifice necessary to follow what I believe God is asking me to do. I leave looking back knowing that in these last few years I have been where God has asked me to be, and have done what He has asked me to do.
I’ve realized in the midst of the amazing work that I do, as amazing and life giving as it is, there is nothing more life giving than what the Lord wills for me. As blessed and privileged I am to have a seat at the table to represent voices that often go unheard, that seat is only important if God is asking me to sit in it. And though the 9-5 grind is unknown to me, and honestly a bit nerve wrecking, I am confident and excited to take on a new role, freeing up my schedule a bit to be more attentive to my family, and to embark on the new adventures the Lord is calling me into.
Solo Dios Basta…
“During our sojourn in this world, we should learn from the saints now in heaven, how to love God. The pure and perfect love of God they enjoy there, consists in uniting themselves perfectly to his will. It would be the greatest delight of the seraphs to pile up sand on the seashore or to pull weeds in a garden for all eternity, if they found out such was God’s will. Our Lord himself teaches us to ask to do the will of God on earth as the saints do it in heaven: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”St. Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri – Conformity to the Will of God