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?
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.”