I want to take the time to discuss my journey to this point. I will probably do a few small posts here and there to talk a little bit about myself so you can get to understand me and what is the motivation for United Body.
As mentioned in my first post, I currently work at a Catholic parish as a Business Manager. My role is to keep an eye on the finances, manage human resources and oversee property management but this is not where I started my career. Let me take a few steps back to explain how I got here.
I obtained my Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Toronto in 2012. After completing my program I went to work for Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil. I was primarily involved with project development, with roles in process design and project management. I started off in Calgary and spent two years there prior to going to Houston, where I spent another two years there at ExxonMobil HQ working on $300M+ projects. I finally ended up in Nanticoke, Ontario and worked at one of our refineries for one year. In total I spent 5 years in the company prior to making my jump to work for the Catholic church.
As you can imagine, I had a lot of funny looks when I began to tell people that I was leaving this job to work for the church and to be honest I could understand why. I was leaving a well paying, established company to work for the Catholic church. Salary downgrade put aside I think most people were perplexed that I left to work for the church of all places! I don’t think many people even knew I was religious except my really close colleagues, and even they were confused by my choice. What people see on the surface does not necessarily translate to what is going on internally.
I would say that about a year or two into my role I was beginning to get unhappy. For whatever reason I could not shake the feeling that this wasn’t what I was called to do for the rest of my life. Throughout most of my time before making the job change, there were endless discussions with the Lord to understand what His will was for me. Questions such as:
- Am I doing Your will Lord?
- If not, what should I be doing?
- If working in this company is Your will then why do I feel this constant restlessness?
- Is this restlessness just do the fact that I am weak due to sin and I just need to “suck-it-up” and just grow up already?
I don’t think I am unique here. I often hear many folks talking about what the Lord’s will is for us and I think it is very human and natural for us to do this. As we mature in our faith there begins to grow a desire to do what He wills but our understanding of faith is still very immature at the time. Sometimes we can get it in our minds that the Lord simply wants us to start doing some new, holy project with the mindset that this is the Lord’s will for me and therefore I will go about and do this. We then go through the process of expending so much energy trying to follow through on that feeling that after sometime we are more drained and discouraged than when we started! The trap that many fall into here is the idea of superimposing their will onto the Lord’s will with the assumption being that the holy thing we desire is what God wants me to do. In simple terms – Lord, this path that I want follow is Your will for me and I will go about and fulfill it. Something is wrong with this statement right? But it is such a common mistake and we just end up starting where we began – restless! Instead of having faith in the Lord we begin to do the exact opposite and start putting faith in ourselves.
Those who trust in themselves are fools… – Proverbs 28:26
The instant we try to shoe-horn our will in place of the Lord’s will we totally lose track of what we are doing. I felt a little bit like this at times. I felt that I needed to do something and came up with some fantastical ideas such as selling all I had and going to Rome to study Theology for 7 years. How could something this good and holy not be the Lord’s will? You can imagine what my wife had to say about that (God bless her!) But nevertheless the feeling would not go away. I stumbled across something that opened my eyes a bit more on what it means to truly accept the Lord’s will:
The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse – Conformity to the Will of God by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Here the great saint advises us that everything that the Lord prepares for us, both good and bad, is His will for us. This means that we have to be at peace during good times AND bad. If we find that we are in a constant state of restlessness and lacking peace, two conclusions can be drawn from this:
- What we are doing in this instant is not what God has willed us to do. An obvious example is sin or being in a state of mortal sin because this will always cause restlessness to the soul. God does not will that someone would be in a state of sin, that is something we freely choose to do.
- If however we are in a state of grace and restless, the restlessness may be due to a lack of trust in the Lord’s will.
My advice to you is that if you are attempting at all to discern what the Lord’s will is for you, you must ensure you are in a state of grace and are at peace. It will be very challenging for you to think clearly if you are in a state of mortal sin. I would say I wrestled quite a bit with the second conclusion for a long time, even up to the point of when I applied for this new job at the church. It became painfully clear that I was simply not putting ALL my trust in Him and still not fully giving up control of my life, which left me with the restlessness.
…our heart is restless until it rests in you – Confessions by St. Augustine
The solution that worked for me? My wife and I did a Pompeii Novena to discern what we should do. I made the firm resolve that if it was the Lord’s will, I would take the new job. If I was not offered the job, I would then accept my current job as His will for me and I would never complain again and accept His will more faithfully going forward. I tell you, it was a very peaceful feeling once we finished the Novena. For me, the complaining about work and the confusion about the Lord’s will vanished and I was at peace. Were there ups and downs? Oh yeah but I had to accept this as His will for me and that was freeing. Of course to make things complicated, after about a month completing the Novena, I was interviewed for the job. Once that was done I was offered the job and subsequently took the job! What an intense journey but a necessary one as I learned very clearly that peace is found only when we surrender to His will and this will be the way that we can achieve great holiness as a result. We have to accept His will in all things, both great and small.
Easier said than done? Nothing is impossible for God and with His grace we all can get to a point where we can surrender to His will at all times and be made perfect. Persevere in pray and seek the help of the Blessed Mother. She is the quickest way to Jesus Christ and will aid all sinners.