When I pursue something, I chase after it with my whole heart. I always found falling in love with a new friend or a hobby easy, even if that meant being vulnerable to the changes these new passions required. In the spring of 2020, I was willing to move to a new state where I didn’t know many people so that I could work at my dream job. And a romance blossomed because of this big step I took.
However, the following fall, I was challenged with losing two of my loves within the same week: my romantic relationship and my job.
I had poured almost a year of love into my partner, who was very sweet and generous toward me, but we ultimately wanted different things. And I had given blood, sweat, and tears to my theme park job in Orlando, but they were overstaffed. Having already forfeited attending weekly Mass in person due to the danger of the pandemic, I couldn’t bear to lose these additional vital parts to my life that I’d invested so much time in, let alone in the same week.
When I asked God why my life needed to go on without my partner or my job, he didn’t answer. I could no longer feel God’s presence — if God wasn’t showing up for me, why should I give him time in prayer? For the first time since I had reencountered Jesus in college, I made an active decision to stop praying. I lounged around in my pajamas all day, not leaving my apartment — even watching livestreamed Mass was a chore.
Depressed about my disconnection from God, I spoke with a priest who introduced me to the 19th Annotation Retreat inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, which focused on experiencing interior freedom according to God’s will. The first part of the retreat that stuck out to me was how Mary was the perfect example of Ignatian Indifference, which meant she could discern the Lord’s presence and make choices that brought her closer to God. I desired to know how she stayed focused on God during life changes because I felt my trust in God weakening when I lost my partner, my job, and my church.
When I was younger, I always imagined Mary as a superhuman who agreed to a task she didn’t recognize the significance of. In truth, it’s quite the opposite. Mary was equipped for this challenge to say yes because God conceived her with no effects of original sin, also known as immaculate grace. I had always wanted to be more like Mary, but how could I if she’s conceived without original sin?
I deeply admired Mary’s commitment to being the Mother of the Savior, which she pursued with all her heart. I saw that passion in myself through the people I loved and the career choices I made. Despite the indescribable pain of seeing her son die on the cross, she loved him and continued her duty as his mother. If Mary could love God through this loss, I knew I could rely on God even if I didn’t feel his presence. I didn’t plan to lose two of my loves within the same week, but Mary didn’t plan to lose Jesus on the cross either — regardless, her passion for God remained unchanging, and mine should, too.
Though I was conceived with original sin, God has prepared me to say yes to his will, too. Because of Jesus’ death, I will achieve that immaculate grace Mary possessed on Earth when my life ends. This realization encouraged me to meditate upon my talents and determine what gifts of mine I should share with the world. I recognized that sharing my writing and editing would not only bring me joy but also spread my skill set with others.
On this Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I’m reminded that Mary’s destiny is my destiny — I’m saved by Jesus Christ through his death on the cross! Jesus died for this depressed, broken version of myself, and all I have to do is love him in return. Though I suffered from loss, I know God has a plan for me, and until I reach immaculate grace in heaven, I will use the gifts he has given me to fulfill his unique vocation for me.
Now, I’m eagerly pursuing a new career in freelance editing and writing, which was scary at first because I didn’t have many connections. However, each time I grow fearful, Mary reminds me that God will guide me the right way because I said yes. I look at Mary’s passion for Jesus, and I know I can imitate that love fully.