This is a year of discernment for me.  I’ve said it often here and to my friends and family and really, anyone who will listen.  Sometimes I feel the need to justify my time here to the world, because who gives a whole year of their lives to serve the marginalized in a ridiculously uncomfortable capacity, live with complete strangers and envelop a lifestyle and spirituality that is miles away from familiarity?  I see a sharp, aggressive attitude in all of my college friends who are just tackling the start of their careers, but me?  I still draw a blank when I think of where I’ll be this time next year and I’m worried that I’ll be dancing with uncertainty for longer than I want… two months till the end of this volunteer program, I know that panic will rear its ugly head soon.   

I think this is all a reflection on my deeper doubts about coming here and my real reasons for chosing to be a full-time volunteer instead of moving onto grad school or settling down in some vocation… which looking back, I sometimes feel guilty that the reasons weren’t as righteous as I pretend they are.  The fact that multiple futures closed their doors to me right as I was graduating definitely propelled me to hasty measures, to where I was looking for anything that would take care of me for the next year, and it was merely a cherry on top if whatever it was happened to nourish my relationship with Jesus.  I felt less shame in letting go of those futures as long as my new vocation offered some decent prospects of growth and discernment for my next, real, step in life.  So I was lucky that taking a year or two off from school is positively hipster in my generation… though volunteering full-time?  Not so much, it turns out.  So I’ve been justifying this year, really, to my hipster generation, by saying that more than anything it’s just a year of discernment.  Which is totally cool by today’s standards. 

Divinely enough, whatever my selfish motives were as I left school were not the same as I sincerely began looking into volunteer programs where being a servant like Jesus was an honored concept.  I was led to Scripture that emphasized this value, and love too, always love.  I read a lot about loving before judging and a lot about serving with love, and loving my neighbors as much as I love myself, which is a lot.  I couldn’t deny then that there seemed to be glimmers of divine inspiration in my desires to volunteer, and now eight months later, I couldn’t be more certain that God has fashioned my time here & nourished my soul through this experience.

It really is a year for discernment I’ve come to find, and I glory in it.  I daily learn more about myself, about what gives me hope or joy and what provokes doubt or despair.  I’m sincerely beginning to encourage God’s view of me instead of the world’s.  I’ve become not just more open-minded but my heart has widened a little, too – for the poor, the marginalized, the broken, the desperate, the searching.  I’m learning what it means and what it’s like to put this irrational, vague, beautiful concept of love in the forefront of all that I do and say and think.  I’m learning that despite my crystal clear uncertainties about my future job, God is using this period to fashion the perfect vocation for me to be a lover of Him and of people.  And what does it matter what I’m doing as long as that is who I am being?

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