Hosea 2:14: “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”
Each of us has a wilderness, a desert into which God will call us...and it will happen at the most inconvenient time. You’ll argue and plead with Him and tell Him that if it could just come a few weeks from now after this bunch of papers is due, or maybe a few months from now once I have a better grasp on this semester, or maybe a few years from now when I’m not lost in finding a job and starting that whole adult life thing. Then I’ll be ready.
I wasn’t ready.
My wilderness started creeping up on me as I got ready to graduate from college. This was where I found my faith, where I met Jesus and learned how much He yearned for my heart. Now I was supposed to go into the real world where my faith was ridiculed and mocked. I had gotten used to that message, but it’s different when you’re in the midst of it. Out in that mystical and vague “real world” (as if there are fake worlds?), your friends will gag at the thought at marrying before 25. Your classmates will openly mock the Catholic Church by name. Your entire social circle will tell you that you are on the losing side of history in the great battle for “equality.”
This is what my wilderness has been like.
And as all of these things piled up on me, I lost sight of the one person who could’ve been my anchor, if I’d let Him—Jesus. The real person of Jesus Christ started to fade from my mind. He became an idea that sounded really nice in theory, and an idea was not enough to sustain me. I was spiritually starving.
Two weeks ago, I decided I had had enough of this wearisome cycle, and I came running back to Him. Slooowly, I started to get to know Him again. The real person of Jesus—the One whom I receive in the Eucharist every Sunday—replaced the stale, two-dimensional idea-Jesus that had been in my mind for so long. The more we talked, the more at peace I felt with walking through this new wilderness. The Lord started revealing His beautiful plan to me, and
I realized I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, as painful as it is.
This wilderness He’s plopped me into is actually ridiculously beautiful and a huge sign of just how tenderly He loves me.
See, the further we go into our spiritual lives, the harder it is to stay faithful. Looking back at my undergrad career, I remember how hard it was to remain a faithful Catholic. All around me, people were partying and getting into all kinds of trouble, and I was labeled a “Campus Ministry” kid. That was hard. But now it’s a different kind of hard, because most of the people around me have dismissed religion (mostly, Western religion), I’m not surrounded by a strong Catholic community, and there aren’t six chapels within a ten minute’s walking distance. But really, I didn’t want to stay in that environment forever. I wanted new challenges. Turns out, that’s what God wanted for me as well.
He wants me to rely solely on Him—not because it’s what I’m expected to do as a daily Mass goer, or because I have a billion people I can go to with spiritual problems. He’s got big plans for me, and He needs me to be ready to follow His will no matter what. No matter what my classmates or family or new friends say. No matter if the only time I can get to a chapel is for Sunday Mass.
We’re Catholic women, and that means we will face hardships and persecution. People will call us crazy, stupid, bigoted, close-minded, hateful. We can’t buckle before that. We have to be ready and we have to know, deep down to our bones, why we are called those things. Is it because we like the sound of a nice idea, or because we are madly in love with a real God who calls us to walk a narrow path? Once you walk through the wilderness, you’ll know the answer. So long as you keep that answer in mind, you can withstand anything. God created Woman to be strong and secure—think about how tough and BEAUTIFUL childbirth is! The wilderness will be hard and prickly and painful, but God loves you THAT MUCH that He’s giving you an incredible opportunity to be a saint. So have courage, ladies, and march on!
is a recent Mount St. Mary's grad with a degree in psychology. Currently, she is pursuing a Masters of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania, but her real focus is falling in love with humanity a little bit more each day. You'll most likely find her adventuring around Philadelphia in a really fantastic pair of boots.
If You Want Me To by Ginny Owens