by Sr. Brenda Rose Szegedy
“I Believe in You!”
Each one of us at one time or another has been challenged to step out from the familiar into the unknown. Back in the mid-1980’s after a wonderful teaching ministry of 22 years and having just completed an intense program of studies, our Congregational Minister at the time, missioned me to begin my first assignment in retreat ministry and spiritual direction. I was headed to Vianney Retreat Center located in a remote rural area in eastern Ohio about a seven hour drive from Sylvania.
There were many difficult goodbyes to those I had come to know and love in the Sylvania/Toledo area, and at the same time I was excited about my new beginnings and looking forward to widening my circle of relationships, becoming part of a newly formed staff which included four Sisters from my community, welcoming retreatants, and having the opportunity to walk with others on their faith journey. A few days prior to leaving for my new mission, fearful questions began to plague my mind and there I was, second guessing myself!
Do you really know what you’re getting into? Are you prepared enough? What if you don’t do well?
What if this really isn’t your calling despite your dream of many years, your intense preparation, your prayerful discernment, and the blessing of your community leadership?
What if this really isn’t God’s will for you?
No one knows you there! Wouldn’t it have been better if you just stayed put in the field of education?
And on and on it went! With each question my fears mounted and seemed to take away any enthusiasm I had left.
I decided one evening to share my fearful heart with a dear friend, Diane, one of our Sisters in community with whom I lived at the time. She listened intently. It’s as if she listened to the “something deeper” behind my fears and tears. After a momentary pause, her response was simple and sincere… and one I will never forget, “I believe in you!” It was her sincere and honest response that shook me out of my self-absorption, my world of fear and doubt. Through her I came to know the strength and power of the Spirit of Jesus within me. I was being stretched toward a deeper trust in God.
Throughout the years, I’ve come to see again and again how Jesus awakens us in unexpected ways from our preoccupation with fear, often through the very persons God places in our lives. I’m grateful for the many messengers who have had an impact on my life; persons who have helped awaken in me a deeper trust in God’s constant love and leading.
As a Sylvania Franciscan Sister striving to live the Gospel mission as a “messenger of peace,” how often I have found myself sharing these same words of encouragement with others whose fearful hearts cry out for some hope and reassurance! “I believe in you!”