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Letting Go of Balto

Maria Beben_featured


Editor’s Note: Communications associate Maria Beben reflects on letting go of feeling wronged when, as it so often does, life took a very different turn than what she expected after college.

Sometimes, the greatest adventure lies not in traveling far distances, but in looking at the familiar with new eyes.

This time last year, I was convinced that God was calling me to move to Alaska. I’d applied to a service program in Nome, Alaska, to work at a Catholic radio station for a year. I’d had the big scary interview, and in my mind, the acceptance call was just a formality. All the “signs” were pointing towards Alaska.

I could picture my life so clearly: I was going to write stories for news reports, see the Northern lights, and hang out with sled dogs. I was going to have the kind of adventures people only read about in books.

Apparently my interpretation of God’s plan wasn’t as accurate as I’d thought, however, because when the phone call came and I already had a hand itching towards a bottle of celebratory champagne, the reality of that “No” wasn’t something I was ready for.

Imagine that you were trying to read a book, and you wanted to know what happened next, but instead of turning the pages forward, you held on to the previous chapters. It’s not exactly the most efficient way to read a book.

After that phone call, I refused to turn the page in my life. I re-read past chapters, sure that I’d missed something and the answer must lie in the earlier chapters. Once I found the answer, I could start reading ahead again. I infused my own meaning into the words on the pages and fabricated symbolism where there really wasn’t any.

During the summer after graduation, after months had gone by, I reached a breaking point. Either I could continue to build a nest of self-denial in the past, or I could take some agency over my future. When I finally let go of the past (after a lot of doubts and prayer), I felt the most incredible sense of freedom.

God has quite a sense of humor and I’m learning to appreciate it more now. After my plans to move so far away, I ended up across the street from my college campus. After thinking about it a lot, I’ve realized all the things I had to let go of during the journey that led me to Franciscan Mission Service.

In order to wrap my mind around moving to Alaska in the first place, I had to let go of fear of the unknown and fear of failure. Then, in order to move on after that fell through, I had to let go of my pride. I had to admit that things weren’t going to end up the way I expected.

In order to start looking for jobs again, I had to let go of the insistence that I had been wronged by the world. In order to move back to DC, I had to let go of the idea that I had to move halfway across the world to “find myself” or find adventure. I had to let go of the idea that moving back to the same neighborhood where I went to college was settling for less.

Like all good adventures, this one wasn’t anticipated and it’s still unpredictable. After all, the plot can only stay status quo for so long. Every time I think I’ve met most of the cast of characters for this novel, someone else shows up. Although there is a disturbing lack of sled dogs in DC and it’s not exactly the best place to see the Northern Lights, this is turning into a far greater story than I could have ever imagined.

Reflection Question: How can you shift your perspective to make now the adventure you keep waiting for?

*Featured image: adaptation of photo by Wikimedia user AlbertHerring – creative commons

Originally from a small rural town in New Jersey, Maria graduated from the Catholic University of America with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a minor in theology and religious studies. After spending a semester abroad in Rome, Maria felt a call towards service and simple living. Franciscan spirituality resonates with her, and she looks at the year ahead of her with enthusiasm and gratitude. During her time in college, Maria fell in love with Washington, DC and is excited to have the opportunity to continue to explore the nation’s capital. The Nonprofit Servant Leadership Program gives her the opportunity to learn about a non-profit organization while serving in the community with other like-minded young adults.