presented by Fatima Perez, Full Member sister for Women Youth Apostles’ Formation meeting this past August.
“Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”
-Saint Teresa of Avila
Since 2014, the above quote of St. Teresa of Avila has been serving as an important reminder in my life. In 4 years I’ve had handfuls of major life changes. I got engaged in May 2014, then 2 months later, changed youth ministry positions. I got married in May 2015 and less than a year after, had a baby. Four months later, we moved into a new apartment then 2 months after that, made a big career change. Almost 7 months later, had another baby. At the end of 2017, we then moved into our house, then just this past May, I changed jobs again.
Needless to say, I’ve been journeying through transitions like it’s a hobby or something. But in all of what I have experienced thus far, God has shown and taught me many good life lessons. Changes in our life don’t have to be huge ones either; they can also be on much smaller scales as well. Regardless, change can be very difficult, and so I want to share what has helped me in navigating through unknown territories throughout these past four years in particular.
Because I have a fascination with word origins, I looked up the world “transition” in the Dictionary as I was writing this. It is a noun and from the Latin transitionem — “a going across or over,” noun of action from past participle stem of transire “go or cross over”. I believe and see now why the Holy Spirit led me to this thought, because its root – go or cross over – can apply so well into our lives as Catholics. On that note, having gone through several life changes within four years, here are three teachable moments from my seasons of transitions.
Call Out Fear
The first was putting a name to what it was that I struggled with in midst of transitions. For me, my fears were stemmed from a lack of trust. This happened, for example, years ago when in college and I needed to fully let go of my then-boyfriend (now-husband) Jon, but didn’t. I feared being alone and I feared him diving off the deep end with his faith when it wasn’t my responsibility at the time. And it’s because I lacked trust.
In more recent years post-marriage, I again experienced lack of trust initially when Jon and I found out we were pregnant with our second child, Lucy, only within 6 months of James being born. I feared what people would think or say about us, I feared how we would manage financially, I feared many things that were truly beyond my grasp.
Though I initially lacked radical trust in both instances, it was through prayer and reflection that the lack of trust shifted into the realization that God will provide, which He, of course, did. After completely letting Jon go and trusting in God’s plan for him, years later we both reconnected through ministry, grew in friendship, and years after got married. And now we have our amazing children, James and Lucy. And we are also living in a house. While these changes were not all planned for, we entrusted our entire lives in God’s hands and He time and again showed His generosity and faithfulness.
Moreover, it was time spent in Adoration that I realized the same God who saw me in all my fears and suffering was the same God who saw me in my joys and triumphs. This is the same God who calls us out of our places of familiarity and into uncharted waters. And when that happens, He calls out to us on the water and says, “It is I, do not be afraid. Come to me.”
If you are afraid of transition right now, a helpful question to ponder is “what is it that I am afraid of?” Because if we are unable to put a finger on what it is that we are afraid of, we begin sinking due of our lack of faith, thus preventing the Holy Spirit to guide us to the place where we need to go, to cross over.
Communication is imperative
Through prayer and the counsel of family, friends and sisters, communication with God and loved ones help us to more totally discern God’s will. Communicating options, addressing fears or concerns, bringing everything to prayer or even asking for prayers all benefit transition. Not only does communication help further you in discernment, but it gives way for peace of mind, and this is a tremendous grace when transition finally occurs.
For those who know my past know that I didn’t pursue a career path with my degree upon graduating. Instead I decided to do youth and campus ministry full-time as that is what God was calling me to. In a personal blog post I wrote in August of 2016, I said: “a week from tomorrow will be my last day working as a campus minister at Bishop Ireton. I recently accepted a position that would finally help jump start my interior design career path and I can’t even put into words how excited and nervous (in a good way) I am. Though I will deeply miss doing what I’ve done as a day job, I look forward to learning and overcoming new challenges in the design world, and being able to provide more for my family – my domestic church.”
Constant communication with God in prayer and with loved ones helped me understand that at that specific point in my life, God was calling me out of full-time ministry and into my career so that I would not only utilize the gifts that He blessed me with, but more so that I would be able to provide more for my family, especially since we were preparing for Lucy to be born into the world.
All I experienced during that transition was an outpouring of grace, understanding, and complete support, all of which helped ease my “cross over”, again.
Orienting towards Heaven
In Hebrews 8:11, St. Paul wrote: “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living intents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
In our Church’s Liturgical Calendar, there are different seasons our Church journeys through – the New Year begins with the Advent season, then into the Christmas season, then Ordinary Time, then Lent, then the Triduum, then Easter, and then back to Ordinary Time until the Solemnity of Christ the King. Then it’s Advent, again.
These changes in seasons are important to the life of the Church because it draws us out of the routine of our lives and plunges us into the very salvation history we are a part of, which is all about transition, a crossing over – literally Christ dying on a cross, rising from the dead, and having faith in Him coming again. We pray this every day at Mass in the Memorial Acclamation. And so when we bear in mind our salvation and the history attached to it, there will be countless opportunities God presents us with for growth, for challenge, endurance for hardships and steadfastness in suffering – all to prepare us for our Heavenly home. Orienting our life toward Heaven is the ultimate transition, to cross over from our earthly life to our eternal home.
Be Not Afraid
In addition to St. Teresa of Avila’s quote, another motto and very simple prayer of Pope St. John Paul II that has helped me move forward throughout my transitions is “be not afraid.” This was the first thing he said when he was elected pope, and continued to say throughout his papacy; it was his message to be not afraid in times of uncertainty and fear. This cry of JPII continues to drive my mission and to not hold on to fear or anxieties of the future, but to truly allow the Lord to work through and in my life each day at a time, and to “cross over.”
Transitions will happen in our lives, both big and small. Though we are unable to see God’s plans fully, may we never lose sight of His generosity and faithfulness in midst of those transitions, both of which will surely aid us in our daily “crossing over” of our earthly lives to eternity.