What does God want from me?

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Beginning in high school, young people are faced with a multitude of questions. Even though many of us are working on so many things at once: schoolwork, college applications, extra curricular activities, test prep—things that will shape our future—we are pressed to have all the answers about what’s next for us. We hear a constant chorus of “Where are you going to go to school?” and “What do you want to study?”—daunting decisions that will determine the direction of our lives and that are certainly not to be taken lightly. 

As the transition from high school to college continues, those questions about future studies, careers, and goals ramp up. Such personal decisions—complicated by family expectations—can be challenging for everyone, and young people can often feel confused and burdened by prospects. So many choices! How to know what to do? And then, add God into the equation.

Considering what God wants us to do might seem like compounding the dilemmas, but instead, I found, it helps to clarify them.

Discovering my best self

I just finished my first year at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I did a lot of self-questioning during that time. I know what it’s like to be in a room where everyone has declared majors and planned out their lives while I’m left uttering the word “undecided.”

As the year progressed, I was able to focus on my love of history, writing, and interacting with people. While exploring different activities, classes, and programs offered at Michigan, I found that I have a passion for education and want to work on policy changes in the educational system, a perfect combination of my favorite things. I feel like my best self when talking about education, and I’m finally able to see a glimpse of God’s plan for my life, but there are still other factors that I think about.

There are, of course, financial considerations, especially given that most students these days have to take out enormous student loans that they must be able to pay back. Everyone wants to be their best selves, but there’s also the desire for financial stability to be able to afford a home and family someday.

Then, there’s the desire to do good with one’s life. I should probably just drop everything and join the Peace Corps, right? I should give up everything and work with the poorest of the poor. That seems like it is doing God’s work, but I would be leaving my family and friends and they are really important to me. I would be miserable without them.

So, should I go the other way and take a high-powered, high-paying corporate job? That would be the best thing to do financially. But what if I get so caught up in it that I forget about what’s truly important to me?

Our happiness matters

Then I realized I was forgetting something major: God’s love and wisdom. God doesn’t want either extreme for me because neither would make me happy, and God wants us to be happy. Using that basis makes it much simpler to figure out what to do with our lives.

In the end, God wants us to make choices that bring us joy and make us feel fulfilled. If that means doing missionary work, teaching in suburbia, becoming a doctor or construction worker, or choosing to live simply and stay focused on prayer, that’s great, but our choices should always contain an element of service for others.

Direction from God can be hard to figure out, but it’s always there. For me, remembering that God wants me to be my best self and do what I love, in the spirit of service, is helping me to uncover His plan for me.

Catherine LoftusCatherine Loftus, a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, is currently a student at the University of Michigan.




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