Written by a young woman named Helena, just before entering religious life.
Entering religious life has held major lessons in trust and surrender for me. I’m goal oriented, a planner, a person who likes to know the next step and do it. Over the time of pre-postulancy, I’ve been pulled, stretched, and formed in ways I would not have even imagined, and I know this will continue to happen after I enter. It has not been easy; on the contrary, it has been the hardest, most painful, emotional experience of my life.But, at the same time, Christ has been there so beautifully and lovingly, every step of the way. He continues to show me that everything I surrender to Him is taken care of and even returned in ways I could not have planned.
When I came to the realization that religious life was a very real possibility for me, I was devastated. (Yes, I know this sounds contradictory to the heavenly chorus one might think accompanies such a decision, but hear me out.) I was devastated at the realization that the plans I had for my life might not be Christ’s plans for my life. It didn’t make sense. However, over the next few months as I tried to wrap my head around what He was asking of me, I kept returning to the image of the Cross. Christ gave us everything He had. The people around Him did not understand. They mocked, betrayed, even tormented Him. The suffering of the Cross did not make sense to human beings, but the divine joy of the Resurrection and hope of eternal life could not come without the sacrifice of the Cross. In comparison, the sacrifice of my plans, car, career and physical separation from family and friends, while major sacrifices to me, seemed so insignificant in comparison to Christ’s sacrifice for us.
I was also comforted by Christ’s words in Matthew 26:39 during His agony in the garden: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” This became my constant prayer. At first, I identified with what I thought was Christ’s doubt and struggle. But during this time, I came across a reflection on the Garden of Gethsemane by Mother Teresa, who beautifully wrote: “No. There was no doubt. It was only for a moment that He felt unsure. That was as a human being. That was natural. The moment you accept, the moment you surrender yourself, that’s the conviction. But it may mean death to you…then there is no doubt. The moment Jesus said ‘Father, I am at your disposal, Thy will be done,’ He had accepted. That was His agony. He felt all things you and I would feel as human beings. That’s why He was like us, unto all things, except sin.”
God the Father was with Christ as He cooperated with the plan for salvation. I had to trust that He would be with me as well, as I tried to cooperate with His plan for me. The promise was there. The doors were open. What would I do?
St. Faustina phrases her acceptance much more eloquently than I, in imitation of our Blessed Mother’s fiat: “I thank you Jesus, you who first drank the cup of bitterness before You gave it to me, in a much milder form. I put my lips to this cup of Your Holy Will. Let all be done according to Your good pleasure.”
Regardless of His ultimate plans for me, we are all called to say yes to following Him, every day, in every state or stage of life. (Even if it simply starts with reaching for a prayer book instead of our smartphones when we open our eyes in the morning!) When we surrender our plans for His, even in the little things, the joy and peace that comes from doing His will is indescribable.