“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
-A prayer from Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude
The last ten months have been a whirlwind of emotions and difficult situations. It was a turbulent time and an opportunity for growth – spiritually, professionally, and emotionally. Around this time last year, I felt called to start seeking new employment opportunities. I still enjoyed my job, but something deep inside me kept nudging me to move forward. The nudge became more persistent as the months passed and my job slowly started becoming more draining and life taking.
Circumstances within my team changed, and I was asked to take on a lot more responsibility but without a title change or a salary bump. I started feeling taken advantage of, unseen, and undervalued. I started questioning my judgment and leadership. I doubted whether I was good enough or smart enough. It got so bad that a handful of thoughtful colleagues eventually pulled me aside and called out what was happening in my abusive work situation.
The stress and anxiety from my situation at work started impacting my health. I spent a good amount of last year suffering from stress-induced asthma attacks and illness. I felt fatigued, tired, and drained.
I was mad at God for having me go on this journey. Every day was a small struggle, and it felt like God was hiding from me.
Now looking back, I see that God was accompanying me all along. God was supporting me through this journey in small but meaningful ways. God was present through late night supportive and compassionate conversations with my significant other, the wise and encouraging words of my spiritual director, and bursts of laughter and fun with friends, and my incredibly loving family. God was indeed by my side during this formative journey just in quieter and simpler ways; I just had to follow the way.
I didn’t always know where God was leading me these last few months, but I had gentle reminders that God was leading me somewhere. I just had to let go and let myself be led.
Last week, I was able to take a few days off to center myself and give myself space to practice gratitude before I started my new job. During those days off, I encountered the prayer from Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude. It was another gentle and small reminder of how God was with me all along even though I truly had no clue where he was leading me. I just had to let myself trust God and let him lead me by the right road even though I knew nothing about it.
~ Jeanalee Obergfell
Below is a link to James Martin reading Thomas Merton’s prayer on the On Being Podcast. It is a prayer that anyone can pray.
Article originally published in “Awakened Life” reflections by Christus Ministries, our Young Adult Ministry partner. Photo Credit: Jesse Bowser.