Last week I began the second year of my Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Care masters program. And despite having a few semesters under my belt, I’m still asked the following:
Wait, what happened to journalism?
So are you trying to be a pastor?
The reason behind my career goal evolution can best be summed up in Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
Just a few short years ago, I thought I had it all planned out. Upon graduating with a journalism degree, I would secure an amazing internship at my favorite magazine (they would love me of course), and I would be right on track to becoming the editor-in-chief of my own magazine. From there I’d work my way to the top while squeezing in a 2-year stint of graduate school. It made sense and I didn’t see how it couldn’t happen.
Until well, it didn’t. I didn’t get that dream internship. I didn’t get any internship to be honest. Instead I lived at home and worked 10-hour sweaty days at my local water park. For someone used to having her plans work out, it was rather sobering. I felt depressed as I saw countless peers starting to live out their dreams on social media. They were interning, traveling, and hustling- all while making time for happy hour specials.
There’s a saying that goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I must have been quite the comedian.
It was during this time that I was also growing in my relationship with God. I began to pray – perhaps whine is more accurate – about why things weren’t going my way. In the midst of my complaining, I was hit with the epiphany that a closed door is not the end of your dreams, but instead a reshaping.
While wanting to become a journalist was my plan A, B, and C, I had been overlooking the clues to discovering my purpose.
Often I have encountered friends and even strangers who sought my advice on various life challenges they faced. I used to wonder why, of all the people they could ask, would they approach me instead of someone more qualified, experienced or wiser. Even in the groups of friends I had in grade school, I was considered “The Mother.” I couldn’t help going above and beyond when someone needed my help.
As I embraced my heart for people, I began to see journalism in a whole new light. Instead of reading stories of loss, pain, and heartache, I realized that I didn’t want to simply objectively write about them, I wanted to do something about them.
On numerous occasions, counseling was suggested as a profession for me, but I thought it was too late. I was already into my senior year of undergrad and hadn’t taken a single psychology course. I was certain that the programs I applied for would laugh at my application. But one thing I believe is that your destiny will always make room for you; you just have to meet it half-way. I knew that my faith was becoming so ingrained in who I was and who I was becoming, so I knew I would find it difficult to separate it from my life’s work. So I took the first step in searching faith-based counseling programs and found this to be the perfect integration of helping one’s mental and spiritual health. It was that Google search that landed me in NYC.
During my tour of Fordham University, I looked at the big beautiful lawn in the center of campus and knew it was where I was supposed to be. I whispered a prayer telling God that I had no idea where the private school tuition would come from, but that I would believe in him to make it all happen. In my leap of faith, it was the only school I applied to.
Though it was crazy to some, it became a testimony for me as every dollar of my tuition was covered without a student loan.
Two years later as I’m ready to dive into another school year, I reflect on my journey to this point. Deviating from journalism was not giving up on my aspirations. It was enlarging my territory. When you surrender your dreams to God, you give him the license to expand them beyond your imagination.
I will be living a fabulous life in NYC— not with Cosmo, but instead with my calling. And that is worth more than my name on the byline of any magazine.
Even on days when I’m struggling, I can rest assured that I am on the divine path that was laid out for me. And there is no greater peace of mind than knowing that I am right where God wants me.