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I entered college as a lukewarm Catholic in 2010 at North Dakota State University (NDSU). My first year there was tough, like most freshmen experience. While trying to complete pre-Pharmacy prerequisites and competing for NDSU in cross country and track, being Catholic took a backseat. Sure, I attended Sunday Mass, but only when I wasn’t drowning in homework. I also attended a weekly Bible study under the same constraints. With God’s grace I made it through my freshman year, and dragged myself back in the fall for another year. The first semester of my sophomore year was the same: struggling to stay afloat with what seemed to be two simple tasks – running and studying. Beginning with my second semester of my sophomore year, I began going to daily Mass once during the week, where I saw Britni, a girl from one of my classes. Britni and I started to hang out outside of class and started discussing the role of Jesus in our lives. After spring break, Britni gave me my first ever one-on-one Gospel presentation and asked me into discipleship, but she stressed that it is truly discipleship with Jesus. I said yes.
However, there was one caveat. I was recently accepted to the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and had committed to going there – meaning I was leaving NDSU in five weeks. Britni knew this and said it was okay; I would change so much in five weeks. The last statement worried me: change?! I’m good as I am, thank you very much! I could not foresee myself changing all that much. How wrong I was. After our second discipleship meeting, I started to have a prayer life for the first time ever (Not counting those random moments that went like this “Ok God, if you love me then help me out on this test I’m taking in two minutes”). I could not believe people actually spend a whole hour praying every single day! Never would I have thought this would become me too. The following discipleships were just as wonderful and inspiring. I went to Adoration for my first time. I started attending daily Mass every day (people do that too!) and loving it. I re-evaluated my life to figure out where I needed to put my time: with Jesus. I proceeded to make one of the toughest decisions in my life: I quit cross country and track. I realized that after spending 9 years on a cross country and track team, I had come to define myself by running alone, and this wasn’t right. Looking back, quitting was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.
The changes in my life would not have happened without my favorite part of discipleship: having somebody to openly share a conversation with about my faith and how living out my faith is going. These are the conversations I look most forward to. I felt like Peter when he’s in the boat with Jesus on the water calling out to him. For the past four years I’ve been saying “Okay Jesus, I’ll come, but give me a few minutes—or years”, then I would dip my big toe in, or maybe my whole foot, testing the water, but always holding tightly to the boat in case I wanted to jump back in. Then Britni came along and held out her hand, in essence saying, “Look, I am like you, I will help you walk on the water to Jesus. If you get out of the boat, I’ll be with you. Trust me”. Britni is the help I needed to get out of the boat. She is the blessing I needed to help me on my walk to Jesus. Without Britni, I would probably still be in the boat.
Fast forward a couple of months and you would find that I had a hard time transitioning to the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD). It seemed like once I actually began liking NDSU, I was leaving. It took me a while, but I finally began to realize that God obviously had some reason to send me to NDSU. Currently, as a twenty year old Pharmacy student, I find myself struggling again. Pharmacy school seems nearly impossible, and while I enjoy UMD, I miss NDSU. I continually have to remind myself that Jesus’ plan for me at this moment is to study Pharmacy; He granted me the opportunity by helping me get accepted into the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, and desires for me to try my best for Him. So even while I must forcibly get myself to study, I constantly remind myself that it is all for Him.
The biggest condolence that I find in transferring schools is that it was certainly God’s plan. It was the first decision in my life that I had really prayed about. At UMD, I have become more involved with FOCUS, and have begun leading a Bible study. While I might not enjoy UMD as much as I think I would NDSU, I find myself questioning the legitimacy of my opinion. It wasn’t my choice to leave, it was God’s, and let’s be real, He knows me better than I know myself! Daily, I recite Jeremiah 29:11 to myself “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” I am continually challenged as to whether I fully trust God. Do I trust Him to keep me healthy even when I have quit running? Do I trust that my best effort for studying a test is good enough; that He will take care of the rest? Do I trust that the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy program is where I am called to study? Do I trust Him in every thought, decision, and action, no matter how trifling or enormous? Do you?
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Since the pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church has been commissioned to engage and embrace the world with God's message of love once more with ‘new methods, new ardor and new expression.’ It has come to be phrased, 'the new evangelization.'
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