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God’s will is the heart’s desire

by Valerie Kisselback | May 20, 2016
I whip a shiny metal frying pan out from behind a wooden podium, spin it around on my finger and sling it over my shoulder as I ask the crowd of 8th graders gathered before me, 
“Can anyone guess what my favorite Disney movie is?”
“Tangled!” They shout. 
“Yes, that’s right.” The frying pan is Rapunzel’s weapon of choice.
“There is one scene in the movie when Rapunzel finds herself in a restaurant full of suspicious characters. She is afraid of them at first but then she shares her dream with them. Her dream is to go see the floating lights. Then, something surprising happens; all these rough and tumble looking characters burst into song and share their dreams too.
Now how does all this relate to your Confirmation?  Well, I’m here to tell you that we all have a dream, a special dream God has placed on our hearts, and the Holy Spirit helps each of us to discover and live our dream.”
This is how I begin my witness talk on the Confirmation retreats I lead as a full-time volunteer at Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries this year. I then proceed to tell my vocation story, tracing the activity of the Holy Spirit in my life since my Confirmation. Every time I share my story, I am amazed at how God has led me to this Franciscan-run retreat center in the lower Hudson Valley to share His Love with the teens and families I meet every day. It fills me with energy, peace, and joy. That is how I know I am living my dream, my vocation. 
As I share in my Confirmation witness talk, the Holy Spirit counseled me to discover and live the dream God has for me through various people and events in my life. I grew up experiencing God’s love in a very tangible and real way through the love of my family and the love of my extended family- the community of my home parish. I received the Sacrament of Confirmation in 10th grade. In 11th grade, an English assignment on “Who is the person living your dream?” prompted me to articulate a desire to leave an impression of exponentially spreading love in the world. When I was applying to colleges, my mom reminded me that I had expressed a desire to attend a college with a strong Catholic community. Then there was summer 2013, between my sophomore and junior years of college, when I worked in a parish as part of an internship focused on discerning a vocation to ministry in the church, was invited to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, and attended the Catholics on Call Young Adult Conference. This joy-filled summer was my frying pan moment – when the Holy Spirit knocked me over the head and off my feet with joy and peace.  With great excitement I realized, “Serving in the Church can be my job?!” I had discovered my vocation – to serve as a professional lay ecclesial minister in the Catholic Church. This was how I was going to live my dream to share God’s Love with the world.
At my college orientation, I received a magnet which I kept prominently displayed in my dorm room for four years. On the magnet is a quote by Dorothy Day, “You will know your vocation by the joy that it brings you. You will know. You will know when it’s right.”  
Through the presenters, prayer, and community, the Catholics on Call Young Adult Conference affirmed the joy I experienced that summer and encouraged me to continue to pursue the dream God had placed on my heart.
“God’s will is the heart’s desire.” This is the message I took away from the conference presentations. It was so empowering and freeing to realize that I simply had to trust the joy and peace welling up inside me. If I followed after the deepest desires of my heart, I would be living out God’s will for me and the world!
The time we had for prayer at the conference was wonderful. Adoration and Taizé gave me a chance to really sit and talk with God about my experiences from the summer, the desires of my heart, and how He was calling me to serve Him. 
Being immersed in a community of young adults who desired to serve Christ in the Church was so energizing and encouraging.  It was a great consolation to be surrounded by peers who were seeking to serve the Church with their lives. I saw that I was not alone in my dream. I was also inspired by the dreams of the people around me: to join a religious community, work for gang reconciliation, serve the homeless, teach in a Catholic high school, all for the greater glory of God. The sense of support from this community of peers and the witness of their desire to serve God was simply beautiful.
Since Catholics on Call, God has not ceased to amaze me with the ways He has led me to live out the dream He has placed on my heart – interning in campus ministry, going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and accompanying teens, young adults, and families in their relationships with God through retreats and service programs. Through all of these experiences, God has been expanding my heart, teaching me to love more and more, and inviting me into ever more abundant life in Him. Already, His Love is spreading!
I leave you with what I tell all those teens preparing for their Confirmation – God has a dream for you, God has a special dream that He has placed on your heart. It is something only you can bring into the world. The Holy Spirit will be your guide and help you to discover and live your dream.
Listen for the Holy Spirit. Follow the joy, peace, and excitement with which the Spirit guides your life. Seek out peers and mentors who are seeking to live out God’s dream for their lives.  Be open and trust in the plans God has for you, the desires God places on your heart. 
Pay attention to what brings you joy. Remember:
“You will know your vocation by the joy that it brings you. You will know. You will know when it’s right.”
Image: Spread Love by Vinoth Chandar Found on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
Author information Valerie Kisselback

Valerie Kisselback attended the Catholics on Call Young Adult Conference in 2013. She graduated from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA with a degree in Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies in 2015. Currently, she is giving a year of service at Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries in Garrison, NY. She will be pursuing a Master of Divinity at Boston College in the fall. Valerie is excited to see how her dream to serve God will continue to unfold and where God will lead her next. 

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