Change can be scary. No matter how difficult a present situation may be, we know what we are dealing with. When everything suddenly changes, the fear of the unknown takes over.
Saint Theodora’s life projected her in a different direction after her father’s death, when she contracted a serious illness soon after entering the Sisters of Providence, and certainly with her journey across the Atlantic to the American wilderness. She must have felt ill-equipped for the mission presented to her in a country where the language and culture was unknown to her.
She wrote in her diary, “It is astonishing that this remote solitude has been chosen for a novitiate and especially for an academy. All appearances are against it” (65).
No doubt, Saint Theodora would have been a fine sister had she remained in France. She would have evangelized and taught her own people. But God had so much more in mind for her. And Saint Theodora trusted and allowed the Lord to use her as a tool to reveal His greatness.
Change is inevitable. Favorite restaurants close and new ones open. We find new jobs and move to different homes and neighborhoods. Our children grow. We age. Loved ones die. Technology continuously alters the way we work and play.
Viewing changes as opportunities directed and supported by God, frees us from the fear of what might happen. Even situations that appear dangerous or intimidating have potential for good if we allow the Lord to work through us. We are never left to accomplish this on our own. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
The first young women who became Sisters of Providence in Indiana often became attached to Saint Theodora and also uncertain of their abilities to venture out beyond the motherhouse to found new schools throughout the Midwest. The daunting mission did not come without some concern for their success. But Saint Theodora encouraged them with the reminder that nothing could be accomplished if they did not leave the nest. This is true for us as well.
Scripture assures us that growth comes from these experiences when God is at the center of our thoughts, words, and actions. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
(Photo of the fountain and Church of the Immaculate Conception, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.)
©2014, Mary K. Doyle