“Do not be afraid! Open, indeed, open wide the doors to Christ! Open to his saving power…Do not be afraid!” Pope St. John Paul II

Before kindergarten graduation, my classmates and I were each given a sheet of paper. We were told to draw what we wanted to do when we grew up. Coffee in hand, a large bag swung over the shoulder, feet in mid-stride – I drew myself as an Avon sales representative, the job my mom held at the time. My teachers probably didn’t know this was the nineteenth change in career choice I had that month, or the fact it would change millions of times after that. 

Yet these countless estimations came nowhere close to what I’m currently doing. In fact, my life looks completely different from any calculations. I’m eighteen, living in Massachusetts to pursue my degrees, take up pro-life activism, serve in my childhood parish, and work in service-oriented capacities in my community. My family lives over 1,600 miles away in East Texas, where they faithfully serve together wherever they go. 

These current circumstances are nothing like what I envisioned in the classroom all those years ago, but they are still far more beautiful than anything I could have concocted. The key is to be open to the circumstances with which we are presented, and react in light of God’s love. 

In the above quote, Pope St. John Paul II exclaims that we must “open wide the doors to Christ.” What does that look like? Reaching out to God in prayer, through the Sacraments, and at Mass. Being your authentic self in every situation. Being patient with those in your life. Taking time to serve in the community, such as at a soup kitchen, on the sidewalks in front of an abortion-providing facility, at a tutoring session to help young learners. Caring for your mental health. 

In other words, opening wide the doors means letting the love of Jesus Christ be exemplified in you. When you do so, you allow opportunities to continue this example wherever you are. 

At this age where we are choosing our careers, discerning our vocations, and finding “home” among loved ones, this is especially important to remember. There are circumstances in our lives which we can’t control. There are times when dreams are fulfilled, and times where our perfect visions fail. The unpredictability of life is probably the most certain fact about it. 

In the midst of countless variables, our consistent love for God and others is what will bring about the best in every situation. Selfless love without exceptions is beautiful in and of itself. God, who is Love itself, transforms our small actions. He brings people together, heals communities, and creates joy through what we do. 

As I type this behind a computer screen, I realize I cannot speak to the individual situation of every reader. If there were world enough and time, it would be fantastic to sit down with you for a cup of coffee (or tea, whatever your preference), and talk about God’s plan in our lives. However, the love of God is the uniting strand among all of us, even if we haven’t met. I pray each reader will be blessed to encounter God’s love today, and that they will exemplify it for others. 

You have the capability to be love for others. All we need to do is open wide the doors to Christ – in our hearts, in our lives, and in wherever we go.