The path to eternity recently curved in a direction I never expected. I thought I knew exactly where He was taking me, why I was going, and how it would work out – happy fairy-tale ending and all.
It turns out His plans are greater than my plans.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
~Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
I thought He was only asking me to stop climbing the corporate ladder and focus on my family. Only asking me to quit chasing society’s version of perfect. Only to sell my house and possessions. I thought He only wanted me to start over, with my attention more squarely on Him. Only. I still can’t decide if “only” is a simplicity or a massive understatement or both.
I thought He was moving me to my dream location as a reward for all those sacrifices. That my life would now be filled with sunshine and beaches and endless summers. That once I got here, with my goals now prioritized appropriately with God at the center of it all, I would feel settled. Peaceful. Confident in my faith and my eternity.
It turns out He had way more than an earthly paradise in mind.
And He wanted way more than my attention. He wanted my time, my productivity, my complete devotion. It turns out it’s more than just words in a book – He actually wanted all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength.
For the past year, I have been intensely seeking God. And by intense, I mean get-up-hours-before-dawn-every-day-because-He’s-all-I-can-think-about. I mean devouring the Bible and every spiritual book I can get my hands on. I mean badgering pastors and priests with my endless questions. I mean listening to religious podcasts and going to Christian conferences and spiritual retreats. I mean a near insatiable craving for worship and communion. I mean I started to think I might be crazy.
It turns out I’m not crazy, I’m Catholic.
I joined the Traditional Catholic faith on February 18, 2017, at Christ the King Parish in Sarasota, Florida. The world may look at me and say, “Yes, that confirms it. You actually are crazy.” But I’m so blissfully happy about it that I can’t stop smiling and gushing about it to anyone who will listen and even to those who would rather not.
I’m literally writing books about the journey, and I can’t wait to tell you about every exquisite detail of the most beautiful and powerful ceremony I’ve ever seen, let alone participated in. I can’t wait to explore and describe the truth He is revealing right in front of my eyes and the miracles He is dropping in my lap on a daily basis, faster than I can write it all down.
But for now I want you to know this – God wants us to dream. To achieve. To use the talents He gave us to create and produce and make choices. But He doesn’t want us to stop at human dreams. He wants us to chase supernatural dreams.
He wants us to chase Him.
We can get pretty far in life on our own if we really apply ourselves. We can even convince ourselves our achievements are the answers to our prayers. I had everything I thought I wanted. It wasn’t enough, and it never could be. Because it wasn’t His.
Some of my favorite song lyrics are from Nichole Nordeman’s The Unmaking. She says, “Every stone I laid for You. As if You had asked me to.” My biggest mistake was to get in God’s way. My most dangerous misstep was pretending He had asked me to. I was stamping His Name all over it, even when I never really had His permission. That’s why it had to come crashing down. That’s why I had to start over. Because “what stood before was never Yours.”
It’s absolutely true that He rescued me from the deep pit I was digging for myself. He ripped me out of my old life, miraculously putting everything in place for me to move to my version of the Promised Land. I’m still certain He wanted me to go, but going actually means following.
This chase isn’t meant to end on earth. I wasn’t supposed to stop at the beaches of my Promised Land. We are to keep chasing Him all the way to heaven.
I know now that He didn’t send me here just for palm trees, lazy beach days, and gorgeous weather. He sent me here to find Him.
Not realizing at first that I had lost sight of Him along the way, I felt as if I were retracing Mary’s steps as she searched for Him, thinking He should be right there among everything familiar. But Jesus was patiently waiting for me in His Father’s house, where I should have known He would be.
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
~Luke 2:49 (NIV)
He led me to the Catholic Church, where He has been for thousands of years.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
~Matthew 16:18 (NIV)
How do I know I found Him this time? That I’m not still missing the boat? Because all those things you hear Christians saying are actually true. I was blind and now I see. I was lost and now I’m found. I died to self and rose in Christ. I’m not just hoping that it’s the Holy Spirit I’m feeling inside, I know that it’s Him. Because when I participate in the Sacraments I can literally feel the change happening in my soul, but often times also tingling throughout my entire body.
Even my family barely recognizes me – I am really and truly a new person. But I know now not to get comfortable in that. I know not to stop seeking. Every step toward Him brings more knowledge, more confidence, more miracles, more of His Presence.
Knowing and loving Him fully will take an eternity.
Always keep seeking Him.
If you feel Him pulling you in a direction, go.
Even if you don’t know why.
Even if you think you do know why.
If you’re doing it for Him, be ready for more than you ask for.
More than you dream.
Our dreams are but a shadow of what He wants to offer us instead.
Because this is not a path that leads to worldly pleasures, human comfort and security, or temporary joy.
We’re not on a path that stops at our version of the Promised Land.
We’re on the path to eternity.