This story is not my own. I came across it this morning and thought it was an incredible story of the power of grace.
You might remember this story from a few years back; an editor from ESPN was fired for his headline “Chink in the Armor” which he used as his opening line for a story referencing a loss that the Knicks had faced even though Jeremy Lin was starting for them… Since Jeremy Lin is one of the few Asian-Americans in the NBA, people immediately assumed that this editor had meant “Chink” as a racial slur.
The truth is, the headline was chosen late at night (really, early in the morning) and the editor had not even considered the racial connotation to the headline. Though it was an honest mistake, the editor — Anthony Federico, was fired a few days later.
Being a distraught Catholic with a lot of unexpected free time on his hands, Anthony turned to the Church. He found consolation before the Blessed Sacrament. What I love the most was the authenticity of his prayer: “What the hell? Why is this happening?”
These authentic prayers, along with memories of a vocations talk he heard in high school lead him to the realization that God was using this whole situation to call Anthony to the priesthood. Understandably, Anthony was afraid. It was his mother who gave him the wisdom he needed to finally enter the seminary: “Do it afraid. You need to go experience this, one way or the other in order to discern what you are going to do with your life.”
Her words remind me of my favorite quote,
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the recognition that something else is more important than the fear.”
As Christians, we like “signs.” We like to pray and pray and ask God for direction. We want him to speak before we make our move… but that’s not how God works. This is actually not proper discernment. While prayer is an important part of the discernment process, it is not the only part. Everything becomes clearer when we make decisions… when we take action as a part of our prayer and discernment.
That is what Anthony did, and next month, he’ll be ordained as a transitional deacon of the Catholic Church (followed by an ordination to the priesthood the following year).
So, no matter what you are discerning, your vocation, a job, a move, adoption… whatever. Do it afraid. Move forward. Take a step towards one side of a decision. God’s answer may be “yes” and it may be “no.” But one thing is for sure, he will surely make it clear.