Throughout my life, I have struggled with control. Over the years, the desire for control has manifested itself in many ways. On the playground, I was the one telling other kids the “right” way to play. In middle school and high school, I wanted to have perfect grades. After I graduated high school, I wanted to be in control of my own future. To make myself feel secure, I chose what majors I had and what fields I was going into.
Looking back, I sought to be in control out of fear: fear of the unknown, fear of failing, and fear of what others thought of me. The only way in which I could counteract these fears was by staying in control of my situation.
It was in my second year of college that God really challenged me. At this time, I changed my major from Pre-Physician Assistant to Nursing and was planning to transfer to a new school the following year. Everything was ready for my transition when, in the semester before I transferred, I felt like God was asking me to consider becoming a priest and enter seminary.
My initial response was frustration. How could God ask me to do something completely different from what I was already planning on doing?! I thought God loved me! Why would he make me change my plans less than a semester before I planned to transfer?! I brought these outrages to prayer. I wanted God to know exactly what I thought of his suggestion about my future. I also had conversations with friends and priests, in which I half asked their advice in the matter, and half argued about how outrageous it is for God to ask me to do anything other than what I want. In these conversations, I outwardly expressed anger and frustration, but internally, I was very scared. God was asking me to change my plans from something concrete and sure (getting my degree in Nursing and eventually working in the health field) to something vague and shaky (just because I am going to seminary didn’t mean I would become a priest. If God wasn’t actually calling me to the priesthood, and I left, I would be a failure. I didn’t want others to look down on me!) I was so fearful of the unknowns of the situation that I couldn’t bring myself to trust God’s call!
One day, while talking to a friend about this, I voiced my fears, not just complaints about the circumstances. I told him about my fears of the unknowns surrounding the prospect of entering seminary; I told him about my fear of leaving the seminary if God wasn’t calling me to the priesthood, and how everyone would see me as a failure if this happened. After I expressed these fears, he said something I’ll never forget. He told me that God would never call me to do something only to have me fail. A loving Father never asks his children to do something that they cannot do or that they won’t benefit from. He also explained that God never gives us fear, and that fear is from the devil. He reassured me that I could trust God’s call. The words that he said to me were exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. It was like God was saying them to me through my friend.
With this reassurance, I decided to go forward and apply to seminary, and I was accepted in the spring of 2018. Since being in the seminary, the most powerful thing the Lord has shown me in my first year is the power of surrender. God is revealing all the places in my life where I still try to be in control out of fear and asks me to let him into these areas.
I want to end by quoting Scripture. In 1 John, chapter 4, we are told that “God is love,” and that “Perfect love casts out all fear.” God doesn’t want us to live out of fear. Instead, he wants us to give him everything, so that he can take care of it. Look at the different fears that may be in your life; I would encourage you to give God these fears and let him be in control to live in the freedom which our loving Father offers you. God Bless,
Brian Armbrustmacher joins us as a “summer seminarian”. He just completed his first year of studies at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and we welcome him to St. John as he “learns the ropes” of parish life and helps with our liturgies throughout June and July! Please be sure to introduce yourself to him after Mass.