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Face the future with hope, rather than certainty

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Once upon a time, I had my life planned out. I knew what I was going to be when I grew up, where I was going to live, and who I was going to spend the rest of my life with. It’s amusing just thinking of how certain I was about the path I was going to take.

If you had told me as recently as 10 years ago, that today I would be a widowed Catholic vegan, I would not have believed you. And yet the path that God set me on makes sense, knowing now what twists and turns God had in store for my life.

My present is one that I could never have dreamed, but it’s one that I’m now sure is uniquely right for me based on all that has happened.

When God called me to be Catholic, and work as a Catholic writer, it put me in a community that surrounded me with support when I lost my husband. Becoming a widow led me to make a major lifestyle change that has inspired others to make healthier choices. Becoming a plant-based, whole foods foodie has led me to encourage others to live their healthiest lives in body, mind and spirit.

But this entire path was one that I had never imagined myself walking. One time, when I was nearing the end of the RCIA process, my husband and I met with the parish priest and our RCIA leader. During that conversation, my husband joked, “I always knew I was supposed to convert her, but I never thought I would.”

I never thought I would convert either. But God had other plans for me, and I feel privileged to learn about those plans after spending time in prayer listening.

I used to talk to God, rather than talking with Him – I asked, I pleaded, I even shouted sometimes, but I didn’t spend much time listening.

But after becoming a widow, I realized I wasn’t in control. For years after that, I sent question after question to God. I wish those questions were always respectful, but sometimes they came out more as an accusatory “What do you want from me, God?” type of question.

Like any good parent, He didn’t respond until I had simmered down and began to embrace a calm acceptance of where I was at in life. Not only did I need to know that I was not in control, but I had to embrace that realization.

And once I did, I got the answers I was seeking. Some were in the readings at church, while others were in the people who surround me. For instance, when I realized I wanted to add someone new to my life, I was shocked to find that he had been a part of my life for several years.

So, yes, I am a widowed Catholic vegan, but I am also engaged now, and looking forward to my future with hope.

Hope is a new feeling. Back when I had my life planned out, I had certainty, rather than hope, that things would work out as I had planned. But intrinsic to hope is the acknowledgement that the future is somewhat in doubt – things may work out differently than we plan.

And my big realization is that I need to be OK with that doubt. We don’t know how life is going to work out, but God is in control, not us.

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