“Spirit, Lead me where my trust is without borders.”
The quote above is from the song Oceans by Hillsong United and it has pretty much been the mantra of my life ever since this past January when I started my application to be a Student Minister here at the Catholic University of America. For those of you reading this that do not attend CUA, let me explain what a Student Minister is. The Office of Campus Ministry offers the following description:
“Student ministers create a ministry of presence in the residence halls by building relationships with their peers. Student Ministers spend time in their assigned location every week, praying with students and prompting conversations about faith, moral issues, and the Church’s role in the modern world. Student Ministers use this time to extend personal invitations to Mass, Adoration and campus ministry programming, encouraging students to take advantage of the wealth of spiritual opportunities at the University’s disposal.”
When I decided to transfer to CUA this past fall, I felt a strong call in my heart to apply for this position. As I began the application process I quickly realized that this would be a time of great personal discovery, reflection and discernment. The application was challenging and encouraged me to ask deep and personal questions about my life and my relationship with God. Above all, it brought me to my knees with the need to surrender it all to God. Those applying for student ministry complete the application, then are interviewed by a group of student leaders, and if they pass this first interview, are then interviewed by the pastoral staff of campus ministry.
In my first round interview before the interviews started to question me I asked them if we could all pray together first. I lead us in prayer and at the end I told them I wanted to share a verse of a song that had been on my heart: “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made strong, in the presence of my Savior.” I walked out of this interview feeling like it went well: I got a chance to say everything that I really wanted to and I felt like they had a chance to get to know me. However, I was still very aware of the fact that no matter what happens God has a plan that He wants to lead me into.
It was 4 days later that I found out that I was offered a second interview, which this time would be with the pastoral staff. I was overjoyed and incredibly grateful. But this meant that I had to kick my prayer life and discernment into overdrive (even more than it already was). I prayed continuously during the next week leading up to my second interview. The night before, I tired on about 15 different outfits and did about an hour long fashion show for my suite-mates, just to end up picking the dress I had tried on first…of course. Dealing with what I was going to wear at this point was easier than dealing with what I was going to say…
The next day, Monday, I went to my second interview in the afternoon. I was shocked and a little scared to find out that the 8 pastoral staff members had actually split into two groups and I would have to interview with both. My interview with the first group I felt confident in. I felt like I spoke honestly, clearly and with grace. My interview with the second group however, that was a different story…I felt like I tripped over my words, didn’t say things that I should have (because I thought I was repeating myself when in reality I wasn’t because I had actually said it to the first group and not the second), answered questions in ways I normally wouldn’t have, and frankly was a little boring. Here was the highlight of my second interview: One of the pastoral staff members asked me what I do for fun…I was so taken back by this question, it was not something I expected and honestly didn’t really feel like it was relative to the topic we had just been discussing. And I blanked. But after a few moments of my mind blanking, I spurted out something that seriously did not run through my head before it came out of my mouth, which I attributed to the Holy Spirit (or at least I was really praying that was where it came from). I said “I like to explore churches.” …Like what? Really Brooke? Don’t get me wrong, this is absolutely true. I love to explore new places, cities, and especially churches. However, that is probably not the most common or honest (or normal) answer I probably could have given at that moment. Something about this all happening just made me feel really uneasy about my whole second interview. Yet again, however, I prayed with the interviewers and said “Spirit, Lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior.” After I was done with the interview I went to Caldwell Chapel and sat there mindlessly for about 20 minutes and then eventually I cleared my head enough to actually pray. Then I went back to my room and took a 3 hour nap, because that is what the kind of day I had just had called for.
There was a two week waiting period between my second interview and when I would eventually find out whether or not I get Student Minister. I spent a lot of time in prayer during these two weeks, and a lot of time reflecting on and trying to discern what God was calling me to and His plan for my life (or at least for next year). Now, during this time, I came to the conclusion that I was not getting student minister…Here’s why: If I were to get student minister the position would no doubt be difficult, challenging, and even scary. However, I love ministry and sincerely feel that I called to serve God in this way. So though it would be all of these things, I would have total faith in God to provide for me and I would trust in His Divine Will without issue. On the other hand, were I to not get student minister, the rejection would have been a much more significant difficulty (See, God is truly SO good to me, and 9/10 when I work and pray really hard for something, He blesses me with it). So the rejection would have been a little hard to work through, but more than that, I would be faced with a much harder time trusting in God’s plan. The test of my faith and trust in this situation, I thought, would be the “deeper waters” or the place where my trust would be lead to become “without borders”. I felt in my heart that God was going to challenge me, and I mean truly challenge me, in a way that I haven’t been challenged before. Hence, I was convinced that I would be denied as a student minister and would have to walk into the unknown plan for my life next year and truly learn to trust God without borders.
Imagine my surprise and utter awe then today when around 10 am I found out that campus ministry decided to offer me a student ministry position. I honestly was in shock. I obviously was also incredibly happy and rejoiced in God’s goodness, but still, complete shock. So what does this mean then? Was I wrong about feeling like God was going to challenge me in a way that I had never been challenged before? If we don’t know this about God already, we probably should by this point: God has a real sense of humor. This means that being a student minister next year is going to be A LOT more challenging that I anticipated. This means that being a student minister is going to challenge me in a way that I have never been challenged before. This is the way in which I will have to surrender my heart to the Will of God and learn how to trust Him without borders in order to do His will.
Fun(ny) Fact: In that two week waiting period I wrote a letter to myself titled “In the event that you don’t get Student Minister: Dear Brooke,”. I wrote something in this letter that now, after being offered student minister, I feel is actually more important for me to hear than if I had not gotten the position. I wrote: “Rejoice in the fact that there is a plan. Now, be excited that you get to embark on the wonderful journey of finding it.” I am so incredibly thankful that God has blessed me with this beautiful opportunity to minister to the CUA Community and am so so excited to see all that God has in store for me next year. Truly, His plan is glorious and He is to be praised endlessly. Please pray for me as I embark on this journey God has set before me, and know that I am praying for all of you as well.