In moments of despair and confusion, I would look at the lives of my friends with envy. Where I was confused about what I wanted to do with my degree, I had friends getting close to graduation, who knew what they wanted, and seemed to have their life together. Where I was coming out of a bad relationship and didn't seem to attract anyone, I had girlfriends who were so in love. Where my friends were genuinely happy with where they were in life, I was miserable.
My first line of defense was to just balk at how happy my friends were. While I wanted to be happy for them and share in their joy, I found it difficult to be happy. I wanted to be where they were, and I wanted to fast-forward my life to the happily ever after.
It was a simple enough request. A reasonable one. I just wanted to be happy.
This bled into my second line of defense - getting angry at God. I constantly challenged Him on when I would finally catch a break. I asked Him where my happiness was, because I certainly wasn't finding any in the way that my life was going.
There were days where I felt awful about this. My 'break' was the fact that I was able to wake up and live a normal life for someone my age. That I didn't have to worry about being persecuted when I went to and from school, that I could practice my religion openly and freely, that I wasn't the sole breadwinner for my family, and that I was safe.
But there were other days where my bitterness left me with little empathy. I felt resentment at how well other people's' lives were going, and by being so caught up in what other people were going through, I lost myself.
I remember growing up and hearing all about how God has a path for us, and that as long as we trusted in Him, He would never forsake us.
But whatever God's plan was, I didn't feel safe or secure in it. If anything, I felt completely insecure.
It wasn't until I hit true despair and depression that I really understood what life without God meant. I knew for a fact that I was grappling to find something or someone to fill the voids that were left inside of me. and I tried to fix myself with different things: On social media, overworking myself, through bad influences, through boys and unhealthy relationships, with anger...
Though I would find temporary solace, that was unfortunately the blessing and the curse: it was all temporary. And once the high wore off, I would be back to the low point that I felt. Only with each passing time, I would feel myself getting dragged lower and lower.
In the midst of my time away from God, I remember being challenged by a friend on accepting the call of God.
I remember responding with a very bitter laugh. God isn't calling me to do anything, I thought to myself. If He was, I would have heard Him by now.
But that's where I was led astray.
In some weird way, I was right - to an extent. God is calling me (and you!) every day. But it is up to us to listen to that call and act on it.
So either I was hearing the call and was blatantly ignoring it, or I was hearing the call and was afraid to answer it.
I have come to learn that God's love is true freedom, and not coercion.
In the same way that we cannot force someone to love us, so too does God let us have the freedom to choose Him, or not.
Of course, He wants for us to love Him. He desires that intimate relationship with us, and He actively pursues us - more than even your current significant other or spouse. How awesome is that?
But because He loves us, He gives us a choice.
At the end of the day, God's plan for each of us is uniquely our own - no one can take our place. It is a mission that is designed entirely and wholly for you. His path is true happiness and true love, and it in that path, we will find no suffering. That doesn't mean that the journey is a cake-walk; rather, it is one that is blessed by God and will give us the most fulfillment and happiness. Because in choosing to give God our "yes", He works with us and gives us what we need as we make that walk.
In my reflection of my past life before Christ, I had so blatantly chosen the option that didn't include God, because I was afraid. What if God gave me something that I couldn't handle? What if God wanted me to do something that I couldn't do?
But how can I doubt, when God's plan is one of true happiness and welfare? (Jeremiah 29:11)
Once I gave God my "yes", things started happening.
This is not to say that I instantly got my dream job, found my future husband, and got my degree. Those things still take time, and in His time, He will show me those things when I'm ready. But having said that, things started to turn around. I felt happier, more secure, and more free.
When we give God our "yes", He turns it into something extraordinary. He takes our willingness to serve and turns it into something incredible - all in the name of the glory of His kingdom.
I challenge you to say "yes" to whatever it is that He might be calling you to do in your life. If you're worried that He will overwhelm you, I invite you to remember two things:
God will never give you what you cannot handle. He knows everything about you. He knows what you're capable of, and most times, we don't give ourselves enough credit. Whatever God brings you to, He will give you the strength to persevere through it. And while you're making your way through, He will give you the tools that you need to grow and strengthen your faith.
Look to our blessed Mother, Mary. Without Mary's "yes", God's perfect plan for our salvation would never have been set into motion. Mary was probably 14 or 15 when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her with a message that she would carry the Saviour of the world in her womb, though she was a virgin. She must have been frightened, shocked, and speechless. This was such a big ask from God! But when she gave her "yes" and submitted herself to God's plan, she was able to help God in such a big way - and that is a big understatement. Of course, Mary is a special example, but still one that we should follow.
If you're struggling at this current season of your life and are wondering where God is, call out to Him. Ask Him, "Rabbi, where are you staying?" (John 1:38). Listen to Him, and He will tell you, "Come and see."