On Saturday a dear friend packed her bags and headed to the convent. Now if that doesn't fall under the category of, #Catholicproblems, I'm not sure what does. Not only is she a dear friend, but also one of my biggest fans and has always loved reading this blog. In fact, most times when I start a new post I think of how two people will react: my mom and Kelly. It saddens me to know that she will probably never read this post, seeing as she was always one of the first people to check her email in the morning with a "New post from: Answering the Call" and respond with such excitement. I could always count on a text later that day affirming something I wrote about, or even just my person. Such an absolute delight.
As an aside, I would like to take little to no credit for Kelly discovering her vocation, although I would like to say what a blessing it was to get to know her and walk with her in Christian discipleship over the past two years. Perhaps you remember reading a post about Kelly way back in June, 2012, or you might even know her and also call her friend and sister. Near the end of my first year on staff, three different girls approached me and asked if they could ask this new girl into discipleship, Kelly. First, Mary asked me and I thought, "Yeah! Do it that's great!" Then, Kayla told me about this Kelly in her bible study and I thought, "Yeah, invest in her, that's great!" And then when Britni asked me about discipling her I thought, "Okay, who is this whimsical Kelly figure? And why is nobody just investing in her already?"
Britni put Kelly and I in contact (why she did that I'm still not entirely sure) and before I knew it we were sharing testimonies in the Memorial Union one random Tuesday evening. Little did we know that that would be the beginning to a beautiful, Christ-centered relationship. Kelly was on the NDSU track team (before she decided to give that up so she could spend more time with the Lord) so we would lace up our running shoes and head out the door together every once in a while, the whole time filled with Kelly asking me questions about what it means to be a Catholic, and myself giving the best answer I could muster. I never realized how much the Holy Spirit led everything we said or did until recently, when she has been reminding me of different things I've said or did that ended up having a huge impact on her. Things that I certainly do not remember and am so surprised that she does. Clearly not of me, but the Holy Spirit. So very humbling!
Over the past week I've realized that God wanted Kelly and I to be in each other's lives probably more than we wanted it. I often battled temptations to see Kelly as "another student" and convince myself she would be okay without me. Turns out she was totally okay without me, but the times that
|Kelly and I on her confirmation, April 2013|
Kelly and I had the opportunity to walk the Camino together this summer and I am so thankful we did. The trip nearly ended before I realized the important role this girl would play in my life. Since returning from Spain we have Skyped several times, talked on the phone a couple times each week and sent texts often. This young woman I always kind of figured would "just be around" would no longer be around; she was answering the call from Christ to be His bride, giving up everything in her life, and teaching this old dog a thing or two about the mystical Body of Christ.
Perhaps some of you have heard the phrase, "I'll see you in the Eucharist," and have wondered exactly what that means. How can I see you in the Eucharist? That's Jesus! Or maybe you've just thought that was complete nuts and wanted nothing to do with it. Either way, in watching dear Kelly answer this call and explore the path Christ has laid before her, it comes as a big lesson for me. I am finally conceiving in my heart that each and every one of us who receive Jesus in the Eucharist are receiving the same Christ. As we receive Him, we are reunited with most His Sacred Heart, the entire communion of Saints, and with all of those brothers and sisters of ours who are far away and not with us. We are strangers and sojourners on this earth, and it should always be clear that Heaven is our home, so why do we forget that the Mass is literally, "heaven on earth"? Going to Mass should be like going home, and the Lord proves this to me time and time again.
On Friday night Kelly called me for the last time, at least for now. She would leave at 7 am on Saturday morning and we both knew this would be the last time we'd get to speak with each other for a very long time. I told her how much I was learning about surrendering to Christ and the beauty found in His Mystical Body through the Eucharist and she gave me the biggest compliment I've ever received. So much so that I humbly desire to share it with all of you, for what it's worth. Kelly said something to me that I will never forget, and it brings tears to my eyes just remembering the conversation. "Kelsey," she said before letting out a sob, "if someday in the future you begin to doubt that you had an impact as a missionary, or that you didn't make a difference, please remember that there are lives that were changed because of you, and you have had more of an impact that you may ever realize."
This touched me on a deeper level, and I think most importantly because I knew that this message was not meant only for me. I pray that past, present, and future FOCUS missionaries throughout the country might always know this! We may not accomplish what we hope to do on campus, or things might end and we find them to be failures. In all reality, those "failures" were exactly what God wanted in the order of the salvation of His precious children. We are His instruments and we should never be ashamed for being the Body of Christ, even if things don't end up as we planned. Christ has called us to be His missionaries and only He can "write straight with crooked lines." May each and every one of us never forget this.
That was the last lesson Kelly taught me through conversation, and I know it will not be the last one. I am so thankful for the people that God brings in and out of my life each day, and I hope to never take advantage of anyone, thinking that they'll "be there tomorrow." May my schedule never be too busy, nor may I view myself as "too important" to live in the present moment and grab a hold of the opportunities to love in the way that Christ wants. He has a plan for each moment of my life, may I never let selfishness get in the way of seeking it nor laziness destroy it. Amen.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.Forgive them anyway.If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.Succeed anyway.If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.Be honest and sincere anyway.What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.Create anyway.If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.Be happy anyway.The good you do today, will often be forgotten.Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
On the wall of Mother Teresa's children's home in Calcutta, India.