“This is the way; walk in it.”

I’ve spent years deconstructing and reconstructing my faith. As a female-bodied person, as a person of color, as a queer person, and as a person who studies theology, I’ve considered it inevitable. It’s something I have to do to even begin to make sense of Christianity, what the Gospel is, and my place in the Catholic Church. My “why” springs from questions I’ve had to ask myself and questions others have asked me, and my desire to answer them honestly, even if my newfound answers were not in line with Church teaching.

The more I delved into the questions, the more a deeper statement was revealed: The Church wasn’t made for me. They don’t want me here. So, why should I stay in a Church that can be so radically exclusive? Why do I choose to affiliate myself with a Church whose doctrine has harmed me and so many others?

Why?

Because I have hope that this brokenness can be repaired. I believe that this sort of transformation and healing is at the heart of the Gospel.  My faith informs me, calls me, and demands of me that this work be done.

So if I believe that this is a calling, a demand, what do I do? I’m often so afraid of making the wrong choice. “What ifs” flood my mind. That is what makes the concept of calling frightening to me. What if that wasn’t God’s voice? What if I’ve misinterpreted what God was saying to me? What if God calls me to something I hate doing?  This is where I look to one of my favorite passages in Isaiah.

“Whether you turn to the left or to the right, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21

When I think of calling, I think of God creating a clear path, taking my hand, and leading me down it. Perhaps that is how it feels in some circumstances or for some people. Personally, I’ve never felt this when asking the big vocational question. Rather, I read Isaiah’s words, and interpret them as calling as a choice. Maybe sometimes God is asking, “Where do you want to go?”

That voice behind me, that divine presence, will be with me no matter which path I choose. Whether I turn to the left or to the right, whether I take Path A or Path B, the Spirit is whispering, “This is the way. This is your way.” This passage from Isaiah brings me solace because it helps me to re-envision how a calling may look or feel.

At this point in my life, I feel like I am once again at a crossroads. Do I turn left or right? In time, with prayer and discernment and more asking “why,” I’ll make a choice. As much as I would love to have God take me by the hand, gently pull me down the “correct” path, and tell me where all the rocks and puddles and thorny plants will be along the way, I don’t think that it will happen that way. I imagine this: whether I turn to the left or to the right, God will say to me, “Go on. Off you go. Don’t worry, I’m right behind you. This is the way. Keep going.”

8 thoughts on ““This is the way; walk in it.”

  1. Many thanks for sharing where you are on the journey. Discernment is confusing and I think we are called to enjoy the confusion (not get stuck in it). Ignatius talks about discerning between two options: one is good and one is better. I think regardless where the journey takes us or what turns we take, Goddess has a funny way of making it work and using us to repair the brokeness.

  2. Wow, I love your statement: “As much as I would love to have God take me by the hand, gently pull me down the “correct” path, and tell me where all the rocks and puddles and thorny plants will be along the way, I don’t think that it will happen that way. I imagine this: whether I turn to the left or to the right, God will say to me, “Go on. Off you go. Don’t worry, I’m right behind you. This is the way. Keep going.”

    What a lovely image of our Gentle Loving God (not leading us) but encouraging us to choose our own path! And walking right there beside us!

    Sorry I missed the group meeting yesterday but can’t wait to meet you (at least virtually) next week in the Redwood group. Looking forward to learning together.

  3. “The Church wasn’t made for me.”

    Says who?
    Who gets to decide?
    Who gets to re-claim your baptism?

    For sure: the white, colonizing, hetero-normative version of church — well, it ain’t for you. I’m not sure who it serves.

    But Jesus’ church. The living breathing thing. The messy bearer of a broken, redemptive tradition — navigating through all the horrors of history, emerging with blood-stained hands — where saints and sinners walk and find a way to keep on telling a story of a God who — as you says — walks with us whatever way we go.

    I wonder:
    Why do you love the church?
    Is there something left to love?
    Something worth keeping?

    I don’t have skin in the game for answer. Maybe it’s “no” — and that, itself, is revealing.

    Maybe following the love — leads to new insight about how you are to inhabit the space and identity of Catholic, of Baptized, of Jesus-follower — in a way that re-constitutes the Church in the sentence your life is making.

    Because;
    Where is the church? Who decides? Who constitutes it?
    (last time I checked it was JC and a super queer God whose relationship can’t be pinned down, but only spoken of apophatically)

    As you have come to love yourself, love the way you are loved, see it as of God — what is it that you find as points of light or grace from within even the broken, dusty, much-in-need-of-renewal Roman Church?

    Grateful you’re here. Hope you find ways to deepen in your ongoing work of discernment — letting go of anything I’ve offered here that isn’t in the service of THAT holy work.

  4. Thank you for this–your writing is a good example of what I call “disciplined reflection”–easy to access and not stream-of-consciousness. You write:
    “So if I believe that this is a calling, a demand, what do I do? I’m often so afraid of making the wrong choice. “What ifs” flood my mind. That is what makes the concept of calling frightening to me. What if that wasn’t God’s voice? What if I’ve misinterpreted what God was saying to me? What if God calls me to something I hate doing?”

    Do you have a sense of where the “What ifs” come from? Was it from a human in your life?
    Also–Does it connect to your racial/queer/gender identity?
    Does the process of working through the “What ifs” help you in some way?

    Your reflection of God’s hand reminds me so much of parenting (and being a daughter)–there is a such a push and pull. I want for my daughter, but I know that in her teenage brain she needs to rebel against what I want. I want my mom to get off my back at times, but I know (esp now that I’m middle aged) that most of the time there are kernels of truth in her words. Thank God for Faith and for all of us who love the Church enough to keep going.

  5. Revalon, I love how you hear God saying to you, “This is the way. This is your way.” Your reflection helps me to imagine a God who delights in creating human beings with brilliant minds and compassionate hearts, and then says: “I am for you. What do you want to do? I will delight in the life you create.”
    Where it not for all the oppressions you mention that way us down, I imagine life would be more like this. I hope you keep writing about your experiences of this truer God you have glimpsed.

  6. Thanks for your story. I believe we ll make the best choice we can make at the time. If it is not the right path, you are free to chose another. Keep praying and listening.

  7. Thank you, Revalon! I was questioning on similar lines about exclusion in the Church this week, and your seeing your call as connected with healing these divisions (or maybe the patterns of making and seeing divisions rather than communion) pushes me forward to see it as a part of my call, too. I feel the Isaiah line vibrating. “The voice behind” is consoling, reassuring. I find myself praying with your post.

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