Falling In Love and Saying "Yes"

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By Annie Flaherty.

Have you ever fallen in love? Well, my “call” to join CCO Staff was a lot like falling in love. It was a confusing process. It didn’t always make sense, it wasn’t always clear or rational, or easy to put into words. This confusing tickle in the depth of my heart was a mystery at first. However, in time, I came to joyfully discover where God was calling me, and was surprised to find that His call matched up perfectly with all of my hopes, dreams, gifts and desires. I think the best way to try to unpack my “call” to work for Catholic Christian Outreach is to walk you through a few key moments in my life.

In the beginning it was new and wonderful and exciting. It was during the winter of third year University that I attended a CCO event and for the first time. I made an instant connection with these young people with faith who were so welcoming of me. I felt the most powerful sense of belonging amongst the CCO community. I was slowly falling in love with the movement, unaware of it’s charisms but drawn to all of it’s holy goofiness, attracted to its people, it’s heart for mission, it’s great expectations and family dynamic. Catholic Christian Outreach made a powerful impression on me from day one.

During the fall of fourth year, a close friend of mine told me that she had applied for Staff and been accepted. She was ecstatic! I congratulated her. But afterwards, I experienced a deep, painful sensation of regret, no…. jealousy.. no… not jealousy, it was a “holy envy”. I was shocked by my own response. Was I envious of her call? Why was I unable to simply celebrate with her and accept her individual calling. I suddenly felt angry with God. I wanted to know why I hadn’t I been accepted to Staff. “Well, have you even considered applying?” was His gentle response. I don’t think I’d ever been asked that. That was the first time that I’d even considered applying to work for CCO.

I went through a fairly challenging month where I was struggling to share my faith on campus. I was “ too busy” with my fourth year course-load, overwhelmed by my future prospects and anxiously grappling with a million possibilities. I was stretched by God to grow in many new ways during that time. I prayed each day that God would show me in a very clear and simple way what to do with my life after graduation. I had no idea where to go next. God worked powerful miracles during that time, to give me the peace, clarity and stillness I needed to hear His “small soft voice”.

The following month I was invited to share my testimony at a “Meet the Movement” (MTM) event . As I stood at the podium and spoke about encountering Jesus for the first time. I clearly began to see the mission that God was calling not just me, but each and every one of us to accept. The greatest mission of our entire lives is the mission of evangelization, the mission to “proclaim the Gospel” (1 Philippians 18). That night, I was filled with great expectations for the world and for each individual! But I couldn’t help but think of all the thousands and thousands of students who has not yet had a personal encounter with Jesus on University campuses all across Canada.

I began to think of what my life would look like and where I would be if I had never encountered CCO. I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of having never heard the Gospel during my years at University. What if I had never learned in a clear and simple way who Jesus was and what He had done for me? I recognized just how important my “yes” was. I needed to make Jesus known and loved by others. As soon as I got home from the MTM, I started actively discerning staff by asking frequent questions and beginning the application process.

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Eventually, after many hours spent in Adoration, tears shred, and letting go, I was able to trust in the Lord; to trust His new plans for me “to give [me] a future with hope” (Jerimiah 29:11). I realized that it was really only my own fears and resistance preventing me from saying “yes” to the greatest adventure of my life as a full-time missionary. The mission of accepting God’s love and forgiveness was only one side of the coin, sharing “the Good News” with others was the missing puzzle-piece!

It has been two years now since I accepted a position on Staff and about 4 years since I first fell in love with this movement. To this day, I love my job! My missionary heart keeps burning within me and my faith is continually strengthened as it is given away to others. Nothing brings me greater joy than having the opportunity to share my faith everyday, by proclaiming the Gospel clearly and simply, one person at a time. If you’re experiencing even the tiniest bit of “holy envy” right now, go for it! Just apply already! We need you to reach the world!

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