I've always been directionally challenged about my life, too. In High School, I thought God was calling me to become a Franciscan sister. Then, when I was in college, an Oblate priest, Fr. Leddy, pushed me hard so that I literally bounced off this male stranger's chest at a Bishop Fallon Dramatic Club Halloween party. Fr. Leddy knew that most of the kids at the party were in High School. I was there as a Dramatic Club alumna, the only girl there in college that Paul, a new teacher at Fallon, could dance with. "You can dance with HER," Fr. Leddy said to this cute guy.
We sang hymns in his car on our first date, because I was dating Rip Van Winkle. During his eight years in the Seminary, before he left for reasons he didn't understand, there was a ban on listening to popular music. We both loved singing so we discovered common ground - harmonizing hymns together.
Once I figured out that he was crazy about me and I loved him, I realized that I didn't know what to do - directionally challenged again. I still felt riddled with guilt about not becoming a Sister, and forced myself to talk to the head of the Franciscans, who saw right away that the interview was a waste of time and told me to marry the boy. When I exited the building, there was Paul, circling the block in his car to find out what the Mother Superior had said - a genteel type of stalking, I assume. I got in his car, told him what the Mother Superior had said, and I said "So, are you going to ask me to marry you?"
Being an introvert means that you cut to the chase whenever you decide to break out of solitude and speak.
"Yes," he stammered.
That unexpected encounter at a Bishop Fallon Dramatic Club Party led to a wonderful marriage of over forty years, five children, five in-law children, eleven grand-children, and numerous extended family members.
Later, I tried teaching, but that didn't work. I hated the daily classroom routine, and it destroyed my energy to constantly discipline kids. So, confused again, I went back to school. A friend suggested I try being an administrator, a Director of Religious Education. I did, at St. John the Baptist in Alden, and discovered I had a talent for the ministry and enjoyed the occasional subbing in a classroom. Today I enjoy facilitating adult Scripture Study classes, my favorite way to teach - through sharing the faith.
While at St. John's, another serendipitous thing happened: I met Kathy Sutter, friend and writer extraordinaire who also had harbored a desire to write a musical on the Book of Acts. Which we did!
Later on, Paul became an Assistant Principal. Then he was ordained a Permanent Deacon, an unexpected step in our life journey, an unexpected challenge to family schedules, yet he was happy - an unexpected void had been filled in his heart. Later on, he and I were asked to do several unexpected things together - for example, to give Valentine's Day marriage retreats at the St. Columban Center. And later we were unexpectedly asked by our Bishop to become Pastoral Administrators at St. Lawrence Church.
Who would have expected all this to happen in our lives? Not us. We're amazed by all the love we've given and received, all the wonderful people we've met, all the people who have functioned as angelic messengers to point us in the right directions, all the different ministries we've enjoyed. Looking back, we can see how all of our experiences, wonderful and painful, productive or failures, built upon one another in ways we could never have predicted.
I may be directionally challenged about my life. God is not. God has opened and closed doors, prompted my heart, enlightened my vision, led and encouraged me, often through the wise advice of others, to become the changed, more mature person I am today. I have seen how God has done the same for Paul. Even though our last few years have also been filled with pain and family illness and death, we trust the One Who has led us unerringly so far. God will not fail us. God uses everything in our lives, including pain, to mature us, strengthen us, refine us, so, as Scripture says, we will eventually shine like stars, inviting others to experience God's love.
Trust God to lead YOU always in the right direction! Listen to Him. Listen to His messengers. Don't be afraid, even if He calls you to risk. He knows the way.