Tuesday, July 23, 2013
World Youth Day and My Vocation
In 2011, I made the sacrifice to attend World Youth Day Madrid. At the time, I didn't have much money since I worked as an intern for a small publishing group in Manhattan, but I felt the call to go. With a trembling heart, I emptied my savings. I'd had a bit of a rough year and had built a number of walls around myself, distancing myself from God. I knew it; He knew it;and my new boyfriend (now husband) at the time knew it.
I didn't trust that the Lord had my best interests at heart. Why was my wait so long to find my husband? Why weren't there any companies interested in paying me a living wage? I felt stuck in life, and at times, almost like I was moving backwards. I hated it. I was angry and bitter. Even as I headed off to World Youth Day, I threatened the Lord. "This had better be worth my entire bank account, Lord, OR ELSE."
Bryan and I had only seen each other two times before I headed off to World Youth Day (you can read Part 1 and Part 2 of how we met to catch up). Although we were dating, I was very skeptical at how it would work out. Fearing my heart would be completely demolished, I guarded myself very carefully. Only my closest friends knew about him, and I never day-dreamed about our future or what might be.
During World Youth Day, the Lord smashed through the walls I'd built up. My heart was immersed in rediscovering who I was as a beloved daughter of God, and all my focus was on experiencing World Youth Day, praying with Pope Benedict, and being a pilgrim. So much bitterness left me. I completely forgot Bryan existed for a few days.
In my group, there was one married and pregnant woman and one engaged woman. They both spoke of how the consecrated life seemed to offer more peace, joy, and time for the Lord, and how they desired that. I harrumphed at their audacity (ok, there was still a little bitterness). "Are they kidding me?" I asked grumpily. "They're living the dream of my heart!"
The Lord didn't answer, but I was quickly swept along into the next round of prayers and travel to the location of the World Youth Day camp out.
The following morning, I was tired, sweaty, and smelly. It had rained on and off during the overnight, and we pilgrims bore the brunt of the storm. One of the Eucharistic Adoration tents had collapsed due to the wind (the Eucharist had been removed before, thankfully), and lots of bugs were flying around us. Still, Mass was celebrated, Pope Benedict was there, and my mood was joyous.
Afterwards, Pope Benedict told us he would confer a blessing that would extend to us, our families, and our loved ones. Bryan came to mind for the first time in days, and I heard the Lord whisper in my heart, "Give Bryan a chance." I knew He meant to drop the walls I'd built and to stop guarding my heart so fiercely out of fear.
One month later, I was so firmly and crazily in love with Bryan, and he with me. Both our lives changed thanks to God's sweet whisper at World Youth Day Madrid.