“For he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy” (Heb 11:11).
I have recently been accepted as an aspirant to the Passionist Nuns, a cloistered contemplative Order hidden in the countryside of Whitesville, Kentucky. If you knew me, you, too, might experience the same incredulity my family had when I admitted that I was discerning with the Passionists. “A cloister? Are you sure? I just can’t see you in a contemplative monastery.”
I can’t say that I completely disagree. Being the youngest and only extrovert in my family, this choice seems to defy all common sense, even to me at times. These and so many more questions have flooded my own brain. “Is this what God wants for me? Have I made all of this up? What if this is the wrong thing?” The questions and confusions that have funneled through my brain are enough to make me dizzy and my stomach churn. It is a lie and a fear that the devil very easily trapped me in at a young age: that if I choose the wrong vocation, I will have ruined my life, perhaps irreparably.
But these fears are just that: a clever deception from the Prince of Lies. I know that if I allow it, these fears might well paralyze me in my spiritual journey. Like the man who buried his talents out of fear of his master, I will never do anything for my master and Lord to help advance his kingdom. If this happened, I do not think I could blame the devil for this — I could only blame myself for allowing the fear and darkness to overtake me.
While there is uncertainty and hesitancy, I still can not help but be overwhelmed by God’s infinite goodness to me. Throughout this journey, this master, who I have portrayed in my mind as a stern judge marking my every action, has revealed a love that is so deeply personal. Through this love, I have felt him make a request to me — not to “do more” or “try harder,” but a simple request: “Are you willing to receive the love I have for you?” Certainly, I do not mean to dismiss our actions and sacrifices to God as unimportant, but I do not think that he desires that we suffer to prove ourselves to him — he is waiting, eager to lavish his love on us, to refresh us and strengthen us so that we are able to return this love.
In my last retreat with the Passionists, a passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews greatly resonated with me It spoke of how the Lord told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and how Abraham moved forward “for he thought the one who made the promise was trustworthy” (Heb 11:11). When the questions creep up and the doubts swirl, I reflect on this passage: Do I truly believe the Lord is trustworthy? I marvel at the signs he has graciously provided to confirm that what I am hearing in prayer is correct. I am in awe with how insistently he pursues and accompanies me, in spite of my weaknesses and through the doubt. I am filled with gratitude at how he has placed wonderful friends and mentors in my life to help guide me and confirm me in this path. I am immensely grateful with how my parents, after an initial shock, have become supportive of me and assured me of their love, no matter where the Lord leads me.
Is God trustworthy? He has proven time and time again how there is no one more trustworthy than himself. He is worth all of the questions, doubts and risks because he has found me worthy of being loved by him. I close with a quote from one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, who I think describes my Lord and God so well: “Of course He isn’t safe…but He is good.”
Allison Barrick writes from Michigan.