Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
When I sit down to write these posts every week, I start by considering what is going on in my life and how my Faith shapes that. So what’s going on? Well, I’ve been living in New York City for about four months now (it simultaneously feels like no time and all of the time) and it’s quickly becoming Fall. That makes me miss home.
And it makes me think about everything that lead me to leave.
The first blog post I wrote on The Ladder was about trying to understand my calling to serve the Church. Rereading it again reminded me that not only has my writing improved (I think) but that I left a lot out of that story. I realized I wrote about how I got here, but that I forgot something way more important:
Why I’m here.
I spent almost nine years in Salt Lake City, and before I left I compiled a pretty epic bucket list of all my favorite SLC things: Liturgy at my father’s parish, dinner with my grandparents, the zoo, kite flying in the park, etc. Then I forced my best friend and my family to do those activities with me; they were good sports and played along.
While I definitely miss things like the beginning of the University of Utah’s football season (go Utes!), more than anything, I miss the people I left.
It’s safe to say I’m a little homesick.
So staying focused on why I’m here in New York has been on my mind almost daily.
There are a lot of reasons: I love NYC, I get to work with some truly awesome people, there are professional sports teams that occasionally win, and every morning I go to work to do something I feel good about.
I spent a lot of time looking for just that, work that mattered. For a long time, I thought that was going to be a career in politics. It’s exciting and fast-paced, and it makes you feel like you’re making a substantive difference in the world, even if it’s on a small scale.
But when I was in the midst of a post-college existential crisis, I sat down to make a list of all the times I felt truly complete, all the times when I felt that what I was doing mattered.
Campaign work didn’t make the list.
What did make the list was the Metropolis of Denver Basketball Tournament, Camp Emmanuel, and Holy Week, all the times I get to be surrounded by family and friends while we are united in Christ.
It wasn’t hard to see a theme emerging.
So when I think about all the reasons I’m here, I remember that most importantly I’m here because I love our Church.
I’m here because I can see God working in my life and the lives of those around me every day.
I’m here because when I’m having a bad day, praying the Paraklesis makes me feel better.
I’m here because I want to be closer to God, and I want that opportunity for everyone else, too.
Also, they let me write blog posts about quesadillas.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)
In one sense, working for the Church has been a denial of myself, a huge change in direction from the plan I used to have. In another sense, it’s been the only way I’ve been able to find myself. Following God has brought me here, and I’m very grateful that I get to try and live out my calling, in the best way I know how, to grow closer to Christ and bring others to Him as well.
I think that’s something all Christians want, whether or not we work for the Church. And it’s something we can all contribute to.
Even if I had chosen a different career path (or, rather, felt God calling me in this direction), my happiest, most complete times would still have been centered around my Faith. And I would still be looking for ways to be more involved with my Church. We worry a lot about young people leaving the Church, but I think a lot of young adults feel the same way I do, and one of the coolest things I get to do now is find those young adults and join them on their journey to Christ.
Even if it’s as simple as writing this blog post and sharing my experiences and struggles in the Church.
It makes me feel like what I’m doing matters, like maybe it’s making an impact.
Maybe it’s bringing me closer to God.
And maybe it’ll help you draw closer to Him, too.
At the very least, I can offer you an amusing anecdote. Hopefully I can also offer you some thoughts on getting involved with the Church in your own life, like through REAL Weekend or starting a REAL group in your parish. I (selfishly) took this job as a way to feel like I was making a difference in the world, and to strengthen my Faith, but really this can’t only be about me. It needs to be about us, as young adults, figuring out our place in the Church and discovering how God is active in our lives.
And that’s the meaning my life had been missing.
Charissa is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. Charissa grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and studied political science at the University of Utah. She enjoys sunshine, the mountains and snowcones. Charissa currently lives in New York City.
For more on getting involved in REAL Weekend: