Sunday, April 20, 2008

"It’s Not in the Decision; It’s in the Trust" By Mike Santa Maria

If memory serves me right this is an exciting time in the service world at universities. Decision, decisions and more decisions… It is a time where seniors begin to savor their last moments. The count down begins and you start to count meaningless benchmarks that don’t matter, your last midterm, your last convo, and your last cram jam. All to hide the heart numbing benchmark, graduating college and facing the infamous question, what are you doing after graduation? For many of you Patrick Furlong blog fans the answer is, “I am doing service!” An easy answer which get the heat off you for a second until you really think it out and realize that there is so much struggle in the world, there is so much to do, so many ways to help and so many things that you want from the experience that you don’t know where to start. You start pondering the tough question, what do I want out of my year of service? Some hunger for community, others adventure, some look for an experience of simple solidarity while others reach for an opportunity to affect radical change. After just 15 minutes of thinking you either feel like you are so frustrated your brain is going to explode or you are so overwhelmed you are going to cry. If it provides any solace at all relax! It’s all going to okay.

I know it seems like a big decision, after all it is a whole year or two of your life, but in all honesty it’s okay you will be fine. What makes serving others so beautiful is also what makes it so incredibly hard. Trust. Trust is required because in giving something to someone naturally leads to a response whether it is a thank you, a no thank you or no response at all. Since giving requires a response it requires the giver to trust that giving was the right thing to do. The same goes with service. In making the decision to serve you must learn to trust. Trust that you made the “right” decision. Trust that your community will work out. Trust that you will be accepted in your placement. Trust that you will be effective in the service that you provide. That’s a lot of trust and even in all that trust there is no guarantee. Did you make the right decision? What’s the right decision? Will you be in a good community? Who knows? Will you be effective at your job? Maybe? I hate being the barer of bad news but it is really not bad news. Saying yes to service is a great risk but comes with great reward. But you need to trust. Not to say that in trusting it will be all that you could ever hope for, but rather trust in the process which you are about to embark. Many are called but few are chosen. You were called, you answered, and you are sent to serve others. Many surprises will come along the way if you trust.

I remember making the decision for myself and I chose to serve as a teacher in Los Angeles. Many times these past years I have questioned if I made the right decision. I found myself in the same city I grew up in walking around the same LMU campus while I heard the exciting stories from Micronesia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Omak. I was failing at my job. My community struggled everyday as I searched for the support I so badly desired. I was pushed to hopelessness many times, which drove me to meet with a spiritual director. In a meeting with my spiritual director during one of my hardest moments in serving he asked me three thought provoking questions: When you made the decision to do service do you feel that it was what God wanted you to do? Has God failed you before when you have answered His call? What makes you think He will fail you now?

In praying after that meeting I vividly remembered a retreat I went to my sophomore year. I remember asking God to teach me to love no matter what the cost. Be careful what you ask for. In saying yes to serving others God was saying yes to my prayer. This past year and eight months have been one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever been through. It has answered my prayers and has taught me to love in ways I didn’t know I could. By giving my self to the service of others I was granted the privilege to learn to love. Through all the success and struggles I have experienced I do not regret the decision I made. I can’t say my experience will be your experience because you are you I am me. There is no amount of thinking, praying, discerning or meditating that will ever make you confident enough in your decision because the it is not in the decision but rather in the trust, so relax or you will give yourself a nosebleed.

You will just have to trust. Trust that you will make the right decision. Trust that you will be where you are supposed to be. Trust yourself. Trust God. Trust the experience and be open to the grace that will come your way. Just trust it’s going to be okay.

Mike, and fellow Response-Ability teacher Danielle Tamashiro (who is volunteering in Washington D.C.).

Mike Santa Maria graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2006. He in currently finishing his second year as a volunteer teacher in Los Angeles with an organization called Response-Ability. Upon completion of the program, Mike plans to continue to work as a teacher in the Los Angeles area...

No comments: