(Image courtesy of Unsplash Siora Photography)
This year, almost two years into the pandemic, I realize that I am not in control of my own life. I can make all the plans I want, prepare, have every good intention, and still fall miserably on my face. This was my lesson in 2021, and I’d like to share it with all of you because it’s important. People often talk about all the ways they’re winning but rarely talk about all the ways they’ve lost. I could have used the truth myself sooner.
In 2020 I felt a call to begin a ministry. It took off and 2020 became a breakout year for me. With plans to eventually make it my main source of income, I poured myself into every aspect of it. I ran free classes, opened a company, a bank account, and advertised on social media. I was getting calls and headed in the direction that I thought God wanted me to go. Until somewhere in 2021, with every step, I took, disaster.
Luckily for me, I have a wonderful visiting priest in my life who I’ve adopted as my Spiritual Director. We sat down early on to talk about this venture and where my career was headed. Father was aware of the circumstances I was in and together we prayed for God’s direction. We met many times to discuss where I was going.
Early on, Father told me that my ministry would not be my main source of income. He was very upfront about it, encouraging me to take a job that I had been eyeing for quite some time, that I too felt was from the Lord. He also felt God was calling me to go back to school to obtain my Masters's in Theology. This was a lot, after seven years of higher education and nearly twenty years of practicing law, I was afraid in this major turn of events and even a little angry. I did not understand why God would have placed this idea in my heart just to let it die. But I kept meeting with Father, kept hearing his words in my heart, and eventually, I let go of the business part of things.
I looked back at this business as an epic fail, even a failure on my part to fully discern the will of God. I beat myself up over it, even walked into the bank with my tail between my legs as I sat with the teller who had opened my business account. Even she was confused why I would close an account that I had just opened only several months before. I’m not sure she would have understood “God said so.”
After leaving the US to go back to Ghana, I was anxiously awaiting Father’s return. But during his time away, I decided to let things be, let the Lord take over to see what would happen next. When I let go of the business, doors started to open for me. The job that I was waiting for finally opened up, I was accepted into the Master’s Program and people who needed my help in the ministry were still calling me.
And in the midst of the still raging pandemic, somehow Father was able to get back to the states from Africa even when travel had become difficult from that region. The day before my interview was his first full day back.
“Nothing is a coincidence,” he said when I went to meet with him. “Now let me give you a blessing before your interview.”
I started not to feel so much like a failure. I started to let go. God did not ask me to completely decimate my business, He just asked me to put it to the side while He worked. The business I imagined and worked so hard for was of my own doing, not His. And certainly, nothing that I did of my own volition was going to prosper.
I didn’t fail in 2021, I won. I allowed God to take over. I gave up what wasn’t mine. I ceded my heart, mind, soul, and body to Him. I sought out wise counsel to make it happen.
It was a conscious choice to give up everything for Christ. To go where He was calling me. To move forward despite the failure I felt, all the plans that were destroyed. I realized that working hard towards a dream that did not include Him was never going to work. That’s not failure, that’s surrender.
As you reflect on 2021, I hope that you will look back too and turn your “failures” over to God. Reflect on each event where you feel this way and see how God is using it to move towards Him. How can giving up that thing and seeing it from a different light move you closer towards the truth? In 2022, can you vow to surrender the things you’ve worked so hard for, the things you love the most?
Let your 2022 ring with the resolution to do God’s will. Resolve to not make any plans, pray the rosary daily, be in service to your family. Have no expectations of what the New Year will bring, only expectations of your obedience. And resolve to find a great Priest, skilled Spiritual Director, or friend who can help you along the way. This is Jesus’ gift to us, those anointed with the gift of counsel to help us along the way.
Happy New Year!
May God bless your failure and turn it into something beautiful
It is really important, and sometimes very necessary to find a good spiritual advisor. I am glad you pointed out the importance of finding a priest that obviously helps with your discernment, and decision making. Happy New Year!
Thank you for sharing such a powerful, and ultimately affirming life message as the last Missio Dei post of 2021. I know that I will take your words and sentiments to heart as the new year dawns.
"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into joy: thou hast cut my sackcloth, and hast compassed me with gladness." [Psalms 29:12; Douay-Rheims Bible]