Obedience Over Success
Letter from Jacque Anderson
I remember sitting in the crowded pub at my university, tears filling my eyes and anxiety welling up in my chest. I was nearing the end of my senior year of college and after months of searching LinkedIn, filling out job applications, and preparing for interviews, I was swimming in a sea of rejection emails and phone calls. I felt as if I were drowning.
I had just recently started taking my faith seriously the previous summer and a passion to lead others to the faith through missionary work had begun to brew in my heart. However, the anxiety of having to pay off student loans and provide for myself quickly smothered that quiet call in my heart. I grew up in a family burdened by financial difficulties. Consequently, severe anxiety about money became a normal part of my life. The idea of voluntarily entering a certain state of poverty that the missionary life requires seemed unimaginable in my anxious mind. I also felt the pressure from society and my family to be a “success” in life, to finally “make it,” and have a job that is acceptable in society—to have power and money. “No, I need a well-paying job and full benefits. I need financial security,” I said to myself over and over. However, as I continued to apply for “normal” well-paying jobs, I was only met with rejection. As I watched my friends find jobs with ease, I wondered if God would ever answer my prayers.
One weekend, I decided to leave behind the stress of papers and job applications and see the movie, “Paul. The Apostle.” At the end of the film, the audience sees Paul in heaven after he has been beheaded and, off in the distance, Jesus comes running toward him as Paul finally comes face to face with his savior. In that moment, I heard the Lord speak clearly to my heart, “This is the moment you are living for: to meet Me in heaven. Not to make money or become financially secure, but to help bring souls to heaven. Do not worry, simply follow me.” Instantly, I began sobbing and continued to for days after that, completely overwhelmed by the love of God and the reality that I get to run into His arms one day. From that moment, my entire mindset shifted. Although I still had anxiety about money, I no longer was focused on being financially secure and successful; instead, I was centered on doing exactly what the Lord was calling me to do to- help in His work of salvation. I wanted to help other people to someday have that beautiful moment of running into Christ’s arms in heaven and to get there myself. With this new understanding, I knew God was calling me to do something nontraditional after graduation, rather than the standard nine-to-five, and I was willing to follow Him.
Soon after, one of my friends described to me a non-profit she had recently worked with over spring break that serves men in survival prostitution on the Chicago streets. As she described her experience to me, a passion and excitement erupted in my heart. I knew in an instant that this is where God was calling me. I’ve never ministered to men and the idea of doing so normally would have terrified me. People around me were confused and couldn’t see how I could be happy doing this work and, honestly, the rational part of my brain was confused as well: “You’ve never worked with men. You have extreme anxiety about money. You have loans. You’ve never lived in a city. What are you doing?” Nonetheless, peace persisted, and I continued feeling the gentle nudging on my heart from the Lord that this was His will for me.
Now, seven months later, I’m working in Chicago and living in the poverty that once terrified me. I still have moments of anxiety about money and wonder what I’m doing here, but I’m happy. I’m fulfilled by the work that I’m doing and, even amidst the waves of doubts and anxiety that sometimes flood over me, I know deep in my bones that this is God’s will for me. This is where He wants to use me to help bring people home to Him. He has provided for me, financially and spiritually, in ways I never could have imagined, and I know He will continue to do so as long as I follow His lead.
My dear sisters, maybe you deal with the same anxiety as me about financial difficulties. Maybe you feel God calling you to something completely out of your comfort zone. Something that doesn’t quite make sense to you or those around you. Something that is counter-cultural. Society upholds making money and having power as true success. But God doesn’t want success; he wants obedience. And it’s only when we obey that we truly are the face of Christ to those around us. Maybe you will be called to a job that comes with money and power. Maybe you will be called to be a stay at home mom or a missionary like me. The most important thing is to do whatever God calls you to, no matter the risks involved, and trust that He will provide for you.
When you die and come face-to-face with Christ, He won’t ask you how much money you made or how popular you were. He will ask you, “Did you fight the good fight? Did you help other souls find their way to Me? Did you follow my will? Did you live for this moment—this moment right here—where you get to meet Me?”
Dear sisters, take courage and trust in the calling on your heart, especially through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, whose blind obedience changed the world.
I am praying for you, sisters. Do not fear. He has you in the palm of His hand.
To Jesus through Mary,
About the Writer: Jacque Anderson
Jacque is a recent graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville who currently works at Emmaus Ministries in Chicago, IL. Her plan is to earn her Master’s degree in counseling in the next five years and work with underserved populations, using her writing background to help her clients tell their stories to find restoration and healing. She also hopes to publish a book about her path back to the Catholic faith and her experiences working with Emmaus. Her ideal weekend includes meeting a friend for coffee and spending time with Jesus in adoration. Some of her passions are the Blessed Mother, the Rosary, traveling, animals (especially dogs and cows), good books, and sharing stories.