Throughout the month of May, we will be sharing posts focused on journeying alongside the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Share your experiences in the comments or on social media using #praywithmary.
I’ve sometimes wondered if selecting Mary for my Confirmation name was too “mainstream.” Maybe I should have gone the Catholic hipster route and selected a more unknown saint from the extensive packet of names I’d been given to review before making this monumental decision.
Despite the disappointment I’ve been met with in others upon telling them this (“The whole wide world of saint names out there and you picked Mary?”), I’ve always stood by my choice. My grandmother, whose name was Mary Jane, passed away from ovarian cancer shortly before my Confirmation, and her namesake was one whom she turned to frequently in prayer during her last few months for peace and strength. I hoped that picking this name for myself would endow me with a similar resilience, especially considering how the Virgin Mary herself certainly faced her own set of hardships in life while trusting in God all the while.
In the months since graduating from college last May, I’ve struggled with determining what my purpose is and who I’m to become in this life. I know I’m meant to serve the Lord and others in my career and in my relationships, but the “how” of that is still frustratingly fuzzy. I currently work in retail, where my dreams of using my English and Creative Writing degree to work in publishing, marketing, or communications are tempered by simple interactions with customers. I consider the reality of my situation and wonder how — or even, if — God is using me to do His will in such ordinary circumstances.
And then I think of Mary. Mary, an ordinary girl from Nazareth who was tasked with the extraordinary: becoming the mother of God. Mary, who stood shaking in the face of fear and uncertainty and the unknown, and still said, “Yes.”
What if, in every time I say, “Yes,” by showing up to another day of this ordinary life, God is offering me, too, infinite chances to change the world? What if the compliment I offer a customer on her sweater, and the conversation we share as I’m ringing up her items, become the salve she needs to soothe her after a long day at work? What if the patience and the helping hand I lend the handicapped man in personally seeking out each item on his list and bringing them to him are the reminders he needs to show him he’s loved? What if the sincerity in my smile and the small act of the holding the door for an elderly gentleman prove to him that he’s not invisible? What if the extraordinary can make its way into the ordinary for me, too?
And what if I say a bold “Yes” to the things that scare me, to the people and the opportunities God daily plants in my path as a means of having me reach my God-given potential? And what if each time I say, “Yes,” on the way to that growth, I’m guided by a goal that has less to do with me, with an intent to fulfill my dreams, and more to do with how I can bring God’s love to others? What then?
It’s been seven years since my Confirmation, but I don’t think the name I chose for the adult phase of my Catholic faith has ever held more resonance for me than it does now.
I’m waiting for so much. And I’m sure you’re waiting for something too, sister. Whatever it is, I pray that Mary’s “yes” gives you the courage to do likewise, to say “yes” to every opportunity this ordinary life gives to bring God into it, and see where it leads you.
Sarah is a recent graduate of the University of San Diego who has been missing the beach and palm trees since moving to Colorado. Her hobbies include car karaoke, reading any books she can get her hands on, and eating copious amounts of chocolate.