The economy crashed during my junior year of college, so the happy, optimistic girl who entered college was not the same one a few months after graduation when I was back living at home, desperately applying for jobs.
Many of my friends graduated with a job, but with a degree in journalism, where jobs are hard to come by anyway, options for me were pretty grim. I spent months polishing my resume, writing cover letters and applying. In the beginning of my job search, I was excited and confident.
After a few months of only seldom “Thank you for your submission” e-mails, but more often no response, I was feeling depressed.
The depression hit me on a spiritual level as well. In addition to sending out applications, I also spent my time attending daily Mass and praying. I had done everything God asked me to do: I did well in my classes, wrote for the University of Maryland’s daily newspaper and spent my summers interning at local newspapers.
Now it was God’s turn to provide my dream job. That’s how life worked, right? Work hard, and then get what you want.
Only this time I did not get what I wanted, and after months of attempting to wait patiently and to keep my trust in God, I had enough. I yanked the wheel back from God’s hands and told him, thank you very much, but now, I’m in control.
Of course that week, I received two job offers. I thanked God for staying loyal to me even when I abandoned him. At the time I didn’t know it, but the decision to attempt to take control put a splinter in my relationship with God that wasn’t healed until a few years later when I was in a Bible study group and finally realized what I had done.
For some reason, I believed that if I did everything right, I would get everything I wanted from life, and it would be easy. Forgetting the fact that I did not do everything right, that’s not the way God works. Just look at the Cross.
Jesus DID everything right; He was perfect, and yet, God asked Him to suffer. Suffer a lot. How silly of me to think that God, who asked His only Son to suffer so much, would somehow allow me to go through life pain-free.
It might seem obvious, but this realization was a huge one for me, and it has sustained my faith through many subsequent trials. I know now that as much as we think we are, we are not in control of our lives. Many things happen to us that are beyond our control, but if we let it, our sufferings can make us into the people God is calling us to be.
I am still learning this lesson, and when things get rough, I feel the temptation to abandon my faith and my trust in God. But now I know that leaving Him will only make me feel worse, and instead, I dig in my heels and cling to Him more to help me through the difficult times.
For all you graduates who find yourself in a similar situation to mine or struggling through other difficulties, do not give up hope. You will get through this challenging period, and it will prepare you for future trials. For whatever reason, God is asking you to suffer right now, but He will also give you the grace to get through it, and when you look back at this moment, you’ll find you’re a better person now because of it.
Even now when I experience trials in my life, I try to remember what St. Paul said: “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”
Christ Crucified CC Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.