Have you ever stood before the future with your feet planted, uncertain of what our Lord is calling you to? I found myself in this very place as anxiety over an unknown future kept me from giving myself to the present moment. I was a High School band and choir director, and quite certain that our Lord had been leading me right down to the Catholic school I was teaching in. I loved my job and the students I worked with, but I had become anxious over His will almost as soon as the excitement that I was where He wanted me to be began to wear off. Anxiety had been a part of my cross since I was very young, but I could not yet see the affect it had on my life. Our Lord was about to lead me down a path, not only to knowledge of His will, but toward trust in Him that would show me over time what little help anxiety really is and what responding to His grace in each moment can do.

From a young age I knew that religious life was a possibility for me. With a Great Aunt who was a Dominican Sister, I was privileged to grow up with her witness as a Spouse of Christ and servant to His people. In the tenth grade, the seed of my vocation began to sprout. Over the course of High School and college this seed persisted in me, even as I remained open to both religious life and marriage.

As this little gift that I received in Baptism grew, anxiety was growing in me as well. It came for many reasons: What if I am not hearing what God is asking me? What if I miss His call to me? And, close to my heart was a concern for the well being of my mom, who had lost my dad to cancer when I was 21. With the advice of a Spiritual advisor, I made a two week visit to a religious community to experience how they lived and prayed. Over the course of this visit, a Sister gave me an important bit of guidance. Her advice was to simply live each minute to the fullest with the grace God is giving me in that moment. In order to do this, I could not dwell on or over analyze the past or future--God's grace was not there for me. His grace is here now. This advice was the catalyst for several months of interior peace as I learned to listen to God in each moment, and to seek to do the best for Him then and there.

On Easter Sunday of that year, as I knelt down to pray before bed, I found myself filled with anxiety--overcoming the peace that had marked the the months previous. I turned to Our Lord in prayer, but I experienced the prayer coming through me, not from me. I prayed "Lord, I cannot see you and I cannot hear you--my sins are in the way. Please help me to see and hear your will for me." At that moment I could see the Mercy habit in my minds eye and I knew at that moment that Our Lord was calling me to the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma. The moment came with peace, but also concern for the well being of my mom. At this, my eyes focused on the image of Our Lady on the wall across from my bed. I understood Our Lord to say, "I had to leave my mom too, but I made sure she was taken care of." I understood in this that He would care for my mom as well. To my surprise, I later found out that from the time I was very small, my mom had prayed that I would have a religious vocation.

To live according to the grace God is giving in each moment is to trust that He is guiding my life in each moment, and He is giving me all that I need to follow His will in a way I can see and hear and understand. I came to understand my vocation, and followed it obediently. My joy in this time was in doing His will. As I approached final vows, however, He asked something more from me. It was as if He stretched out His hand in invitation. "I invite you to live this life with Me." At this I experienced the relationship He had been calling me into. This was more than a life decision to follow, but a tender invitation, and a tender choice to love in return. Throughout my formation as a Religious Sister of Mercy, I have learned that every moment can bring with it an opportunity to fall to anxiety, or an opportunity to acknowledge His Presence and goodness. He is trustworthy and so good. Surrender to this trust is His overall Will for me in each moment, and my joy is in living out His will for love of Him.