When I think about the phrase “God has a plan for you,” I recall a homily where we heard about a visiting priest’s call to the priesthood.
He had his entire life mapped out, was attending medical school, and had wanted to be a doctor for as long as he remembered. However, he struggled immensely to balance school, working nights in the emergency room, and staying committed to his parish. He continued to fail classes again and again until he had no choice but to drop out of school. He could not understand why he was being faced with so many challenges if all he wanted to do was become a doctor and help people.
It was then that a fellow parishioner who had previously seen the joy he experienced when serving the Church recommended that he look into joining a seminary. When he finally did, he searched for any excuse possible so he would not have to diverge from the path he had planned for himself.
However, when he finally stopped resisting and let go of all the doubts that prevented him from seeing God’s true plan, it immediately became clear that the priesthood was his true calling.
Although many college students may start off with hardly any idea of what they should study, others might have their entire lives planned and do not expect to stray from the path that they have created for themselves.
For years now I’ve been told that I have my whole life figured out because I’ve tried to have an almost exact idea of what I want to study and how I could make a career out of it. Ever since I got glasses in fourth grade, I wholeheartedly believed that I was meant to go to school to become an optometrist; even the idea of just considering a different career felt wrong to me. I had embraced this as my future, and even job shadowed a local doctor so I could forge connections that I would hopefully benefit from in the future.
But then God threw me for a loop, and the life I had so carefully crafted for myself years in advance needed to be reimagined entirely.
From a young age, I have always enjoyed spending time in the company of the elderly. I loved walking to the nursing/rehabilitation center down the road from my house so I could spend an afternoon listening to the residents tell me their stories.
Despite knowing I had this passion, I still insisted on believing that I was meant to be an optometrist. The “wrench in my plans,” as I believed it to be at the time, began when my grandmother was sent to rehabilitation for both a broken arm and hip.
On a number of occasions when I went to visit her, I would sit in on her therapy sessions and watch as she worked to strengthen herself so she could go back home. Maybe God simply waited to make the possibility of a career in occupational therapy known to me until I had a personal experience to connect it to, but something in those moments made me realize that what I truly want is to help the elderly adjust to life after an injury by re-teaching them all the skills they need to get back to their favorite place: home.
I’ve always been told none of us truly know God’s plan for us until he decides to present us with an opportunity we had never considered before. Even though all my decisions have changed once before and I now plan to major in exercise science and become an occupational therapist, I have no certainty that I won’t fall in love with a completely different field that allows me to help people even more than I thought possible.
Katherine McWilliams graduated in May from St. Joseph School in Conway. She attends St. Joseph Church.
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