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Trust Now, and Teach

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

One year ago, I ought to have asked for little more. With the advent of my senior year, I had just welcomed my younger brother to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, as a freshman and fellow Zag. Surrounded by a network of inspiring mentors and incomparably supportive friendships, the opportunities of the coming months might well have felt boundless.

Yet amidst the anxious excitement of orientation and joyous, post-summer reunions, I found myself continuously exhausted by the seemingly circular process of vocational discernment and re-evaluation. Paralyzed by the uncertain state of my post-graduate ambitions, my prayer life had effectively withered to the frustrated recitation of my deepest desire—to know, indeed to foresee, God's will for my future.

RestlessI chided myself to focus on the present and sought to mask my trepidations. For given the gravity of my present predicament, the tried and true mantra to "let go and let God" suddenly seemed fanciful, if not downright foolish. After all, a mere handful of decisions were about to largely determine a trajectory that might well last a lifetime.

In hindsight, it borders on the unbelievable, but if I am being perfectly honest with myself, the catharsis that emboldened me to follow through and apply wholeheartedly to the Alliance for Catholic Education came exactly two years after I first heard of this program's existence. Dizzying as it is to fully appreciate, I had never genuinely considered a vocation in education before partaking in a spiritual formation retreat through Gonzaga's University Ministry at the onset of my sophomore year. The bus ride back to campus would be the first time that I admitted to anyone, including myself, the desire to inspire others through intentional, holistic education. Countless phone calls home and late-night conversations with friends would soon lead me to this very website. Until one year ago, ACE's invitation was one I couldn't be certain I was worthy of accepting. Its confluence of spiritual development, intentional, communal living, and professional teaching that strives to serve under-resourced students, families, and schools felt too ideal to be realistically attainable. Acknowledging that I would accept ACE in a heartbeat, I could not bring myself to fully believe that ACE would accept me back. And so, I bided my time, collected second opinions, and explored alternatives, all the while anticipating some hidden snag.

The first domino had long since fallen, but it took two years for my educational epiphany to reach the point of maturation. Yet another retreat, centered around vocational discernment and contemplative action, would afford me the opportunity to name my predicament as a restlessness of heart. To authentically understand that in a world of sneak-peaks and pre-determined paths, faith itself would lose all meaning. To appreciate that the reason there was no simple answer, was because God had left the decision my own to make. To recognize that the only hidden snag there had ever been was my own disbelief. The second domino fell.

One year ago, I was restless, paralyzed by the expansive possibilities of my own uncertain future. Today, I am still restless, but empowered with the 61 uncharted futures of my vibrant, talented students. I believe that God and I chose the ministry of teaching together, and I believe that I will be restless until I rest in Him. I now also see that this restlessness is fuel. An inexhaustible reservoir of the passion needed to change hearts, to captivate imaginations, and to challenge my students to invest in their boundless potential.