To Hear God Anew
Letting God in on our decisions is SO important, and there are so many decisions we have to make in this long (yet short, compared to our time in heaven) life of ours…..
Whom should we marry?
Where should we live?
Where should we work?
How many children do we want?
When do we want children?
Should we continue our careers after we have children?
These questions often buzz around in my mind, and I’ve always thought it would be nice if an angel would just come down from heaven and tell me which direction to go. Although that has yet to happen in my life, I’ve come to discover ways that God’s will is revealed to us through the process of discernment.
Looking for God moments
When I was applying to grad schools for a Master of Public Health (MPH) during my senior year of undergrad, I had a list of four schools to which I was planning on applying. After I took the GRE in July, I sent all of my scores to these institutions. Then, in November, I applied to them. However, one night in early January when I was sitting in bed (I swear, God uses my contemplative bed time to tell me big things), I knew I had to apply to one more school. At the time, I had NO clue why I got this urge and no clue which school. I called my now-husband Quintin, and we started looking at schools where I hadn’t missed the application deadline and that had my program. Yale was the only one that fit both criteria.
The night before I was accepted into Yale, I was watching the episode of “Gilmore Girls” where Rory decides to attend Yale over Harvard. I had only applied a week prior, yet my acceptance came that very next morning. Then, when I received my financial aid package, I saw two bulldogs on my run that day. (For those of you who don’t know, Yale’s mascot is Handsome Dan, the bulldog.) I NEVER used to see bulldogs on my runs in St. Louis.
In the end, I did choose to pursue my MPH at Yale, and the discernment process of where to attend grad school was actually a pretty easy one. God moments were coming my way one after the other, and I chose to follow them. However, not all discernment decisions are this easy, and I want to give one more example of a recent moment in my life where the discernment process was much more difficult – deciding whether or not to be a working mom.
How can you best set the world on fire?
I became pregnant with my son Joseph Charles in November of last year. I had just graduated with my graduate degree from Yale in May and started my first job as a Healthcare Research Associate in June. Upon becoming pregnant, I faced the tough question of whether I would stay at home and raise Joseph after my maternity leave ended or whether I would stay at my job and find a daycare option for Joseph during my work day. I really wish I could have been both a stay-at-home mom and worked, but both options weren’t possible and a choice had to be made.
In making this decision, what I turned to most was who God had created me – Raquel Maria Davis – to be. God had created me different from anyone else, and this meant that my discernment process may not look the same as for other new moms and that was OK. In thinking through “Who did God create me to be?”, I knew I held many roles/titles: Daughter. Sister. Wife. (New) Mom. Public health professional. And most importantly, Daughter of Christ. The role of new mom was one that I would now forever have, but how would I feel if I decided to temporarily forgo my public health professional title?
St. Ignatius of Loyola famously quoted, “Go forth and set the world on fire.” With the unique, one-of-a-kind talents He has given us, God wants us to go forth and set the world on fire. For some moms, this is being a stay-at-home mom and giving their children the gift of their presence 24/7. These people are rock stars! For other moms, that is helping provide for their families and spreading the Good News in the workplace. These moms are rock stars too!
In thinking about who God created me to be and how to best set the world on fire, I knew God had created me as someone who was incredibly fast-paced (for better or for worse), as someone who wanted to get involved in politics, as someone who believed health was a human right. If I was a stay-at-home mom, I would lose a huge part of my identity and what made me, me! I do know that this world is not our forever home, so I don’t want to completely give myself to worldly career endeavors. However, I also want to spread God’s word, form relationships, and serve God’s people. Holding the title of working mom is how I can best set the world on fire right now, so I have discerned this course of action. Not everyone I have talked to agrees with this decision, but it’s what I have decided with God (and also with my husband Quintin, of course!)
The first story of discernment I shared was pretty entertaining. Trust me, looking back, I laugh. It seems a bit “out there,” but I know to this day that God guided me to Yale. The second story was one that required much more prayer and talking to God. At the end of the day, I needed to figure out who God had uniquely created me to be. All of us have different paths!
In closing, I would like to leave you with two things. First, this beautiful discernment prayer:
“God of silence and God of all sound,
help me to listen.
Help me to do the deep listening to the sounds of my soul,
waiting to hear your soft voice calling me deeper into you.
Give me attentive ears
that begin to separate the noise from the sounds that are you;
you who have been speaking to me
and through me my whole life,
for so long that you can seem like background noise.
Today help me hear you anew.”
– Author Unknown
Second, my final story (Last one, I promise!). Recently, I have been thinking about law school. Just the other day, I began praying, asking God for a sign if this was remotely something to consider. When I looked down at my Bible, it hit me that I was reading Leviticus, a whole chapter devoted to God giving the Israelites hundreds of laws! So, my final piece of advice? Turn to the scriptures too! God talks in many places!
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Raquel was born in Indiana and lived in the Midwest for 22 years. She is an alumna of Saint Louis University, and after getting married the summer after undergrad, journeyed out of the Midwest to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) at Yale University. She now lives in DC with her husband Quintin, son Joseph, and dalmatian Lilo and works as a Member Insights Associate for a healthcare company.