By Amy Smith
Amy Smith is associate editor of the National Catholic Register, where she edits features and likes to write about everything from hope and saints (her favorites are Thérèse and Gianna) to Jane Austen. She's the author of The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women.
St. Augustine wrote, “If God seems slow in responding, it is because He is preparing a better gift. He will not deny us. God withholds what you are not yet ready for. He wants you to have a lively desire for His greatest gifts. All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart.”
For a while, I thought of becoming a doctor. But, through discernment, God reminded me that I had thought about being a writer long before I ever considered medicine. I filled notebooks with stories as a child. Writing was a God-given gift, I kept thinking. How could I turn my back on something God wanted for me?
The Little Flower realized that God’s timing was best in her life, too. When she first wanted to join the convent, she couldn’t, because the bishop said she was too young. She then asked the Pope if she could enter, and he said she should do what her superiors told her. Boldly, she told him that if he allowed it, the superiors would agree. He assured her that she would enter if God willed it. And she did shortly after. Things didn’t work out the way she anticipated, but God had it under control. As He always does.
Through my whole career-discernment process, I learned that it is more than okay to change course. Letting go of my plan for God’s plan is the best thing I can ever do. I am confident that God has it under control via Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
A spiritual director once told me that understanding God’s plan is sometimes hard because we only see the backside of the quilt He is working on; but since He knows what the final design will look like, we shouldn’t worry. So don’t!
Mary, of course, illustrated this perfectly. She didn’t fully understand what God’s plan would entail, but she kept trusting. As Pope Francis reminded the young people at World Youth Day 2016: “Jesus is calling you to leave your mark on history.” “God hopes in you,” he added. “With you, the world can be different.”
Jesus is always there, in the midst of everything, ready to comfort us.
So instead of wondering where Jesus is when I don’t hear His voice answering my prayers, I try hard to simply sit and wait. Often, answers come in the course of daily events, conversations, or circumstances. As St. Maximilian Kolbe said, “The cross is the school of love.”
Christ showed His love for us on the Cross, and when we take up our own crosses, we understand His love for us more. And we extend that to others. “Don’t ever forget to love,” St. Maximilian also advised.
I especially like how the Little Flower explains Jesus’ response to our pain. St. Thérèse says that Jesus is closest to us when He hides Himself. At first, that doesn’t make much sense, but if Christ hides Himself in such a way that we can’t hear His voice, it is because He wishes to be quiet, simply keeping us company in our distress.
Everything that God has allowed in your life is for a reason; each is a piece in The-Plans-God-Has-for-You puzzle. We are truly works in progress.
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Amid all the noise in the world, how is a girl supposed to hear the quiet voice of God speaking to her heart? The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women will remind women that God is the key to happiness and understanding one’s place and purpose in the world.