By Michelle Rash, Senior at the University of St. Thomas
I graduate college in 1 month, so naturally everyone’s favorite question is “What are you going to be doing next year?” At the beginning of this year I thought this was going to be an easy answer. I came into senior year with plans to graduate with a degree in psychology, get a job as an event planner for a business firm, and move in to an apartment in the Twin Cities. Now I find myself telling my family, friends, and the cashier at Target that I’m going to be a missionary. So how did someone new to Saint Paul’s Outreach this year come to be a Mission Leader in a few months?
I'm all about transparency so here it goes:
The two things I struggle with most are letting go of control of a situation and trusting others. I see it in the way I carry myself, interact with other people, and especially how I relate to God. It's ironic that two major aspects of mission life are my biggest faults. My new plan is to no longer have one; I need to trust God and His plan. I’m excited, terrified and everything in between. God is going to bless this time immensely, but I know it’s going to be difficult in ways that I can’t anticipate.
I gave God a centimeter and He took about 6 miles this year. I chose to live in the women’s household at St. Thomas during my senior year so that I might grow in prayer. That was all I was looking for. I didn’t account for the effect prayer was going to have on my perspective, desires, and future. That control that I like to have? It turns out that isn’t very conducive to building a prayer life; it’s actually a huge obstacle. As God gave me the grace to pursue Him more He also asked me to loosen my grip a little bit. And that trust that I lacked? He gave me chances to trust Him and that he had something better for me.
I was left in the middle of my fall semester questioning everything that I wanted. Just how much was God asking me to let go of? I realized how limiting the plans I had made for myself had been. Getting a job and an apartment in a city that I love were all good things but who was to say they were my only options? What if I was aiming too low? What if what I wanted, no matter how good it may be, wasn’t what He wanted for me? And who was I to limit what God wanted? These were the sorts of questions mulling around in my head.
As I was being asked to let go, I was actually gaining a sense of freedom. People always talk about this “spark” you experience when you fall in love with someone and I think I understand that feeling. I was being loved so well by the people in my life and especially by the women I was living within household. I was surrounded by so many good things and opportunities. I felt like something had come alive in me and I had a passion for life that I hadn’t ever had before.
That feeling is what brought me to wanting to be a Mission Leader. I needed to pursue that passion. The Gospel of John says that “we love because He first loved us.” I had received so much love this year and hadn’t had a chance to give it back well. Every fear or doubt I had was met with an invitation to trust in God. So what am I going to be doing next year? I have no idea. What I do know is that God is going to show up because that’s who He is. He’s going to make His presence known on campuses all across the nation and how blessed we are to get to be a part of that.