I was sitting in the chapel gazing at the Eucharist, praying about where Jesus might send me for my next assignment. I thought about the lost sheep in the Gospel. Jesus said, “I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Luke 15:7). Jesus reminded me about my sinful, youthful life, including hanging out with bad friends, experiencing clueless relationships, and lacking a purpose in life. I practiced my faith by “going through the motions” during masses, but I presumably received no graces, so I felt sad and lonely.
Aware of my feelings, Jesus showed me that I had been a lost sheep, but He has redeemed me now. Through the Spiritual Exercises, I prayed the Meditation of the Two Standards, and I chose to serve God wholeheartedly. Thinking about where I might go next, I was aware that I was drawn to youth because I resonated with their struggles and feel excited to journey with them as they figure out their careers, faith, and so on. I knew it would be hard. It would be difficult teaching smart students since English is my second language. I would be challenged by the noisy classrooms as I also struggle with losing focus and patience. Ultimately, I felt called to grow in loving the youth.
Having arrived at the school, I could feel how God wanted me to be with students. I felt consoled by a student’s holy action. I had been asked to observe the freshman assembly on Ignatian Spirituality. I was sweating and felt nervous about how I could teach these smart students. Then, I saw a student holding a rosary in his hands. He seemed happy and at peace with himself. I recognized that all the adults in this school were deeply concerned about students’ desire to know God and trust in Him. Seeing him reminded me of my upbringing—how I prayed regularly to build a relationship with God, and how God helped me to form my self-confidence. With this experience, I knew that God would give me His love and grace, so I can teach these students and help more students to understand prayers and faith formation.
One day, as I was walking in the hallways, I saw some students sitting lonely on the benches. Gazing at these students’ sad and bored faces, I experienced flashbacks about my student life in high school. I was lonely, sad, and tired since I did not have good friends to hang out with and share my joys and hardships in life. With the help of my religious friends, I found a good mentor to help me discern my career, relationship, and life. At this moment, my heart desired to communicate with these lonely students. When I joyfully said, “Good morning, guys,” these students responded to me, and their actions cheered me up because they seemed genuine. Reflecting on this experience, I desired to help these bored students so they could feel joyful in their lives.
Another day, I saw some students frustrated while trying to learn Mathematics. Observing a math classroom, students were making a lot of noise, and I felt disturbed by this noisy classroom. There was a moment when I wanted to shout, “Be quiet.” At the same moment, I saw some students holding their heads because they could not solve some math problems. Looking at their frustrations, I felt empathy toward them because I knew what it was like to not understand some topics. As I noticed my feeling, my heart yearned to help these students to understand Mathematics, and I did not feel bothered by the noisy classroom.
Reflecting on these experiences with students, I knew that God yearned to use my youthful life experiences to help the youth with their lifestyles today. When I hung out with bad friends, entered into some relationships for sexual desires, and practiced my faith by going to Mass just to fulfill my duty, I felt sad because I was a lost sheep. Having chosen to serve God wholeheartedly, I felt God redeemed me now. After seven months at the Rockhurst High School, I feel happy and grateful since I have learned many skills about teaching and working with others; I’ve enjoyed building relationships with students including playing basketball with them. I still feel nervous about teaching students sometimes, yet I desire to be obedient to God’s calling and desire to be available for missions wherever God wants me to do. So far, I’ve been found.
Photo by Martin Schmidli on Unsplash.