Editor’s Note: Former DC Service Corps volunteer, Sam Hardwick, shares how God spoke to his heart and inspired growth through the invitation to live a life of faith.

This is the irrational season

When I was going into my senior year at Providence College, God planted a seed in my heart. This seed came in the form of a voice. After a normal night of going out, I woke up and felt a despair that felt truly crippling. Rather than feel like a seed was planted, I felt empty and despondent that I wasn’t being led anywhere or that my life had any meaning. In this despair, I turned to something that I rarely thought to do prior. I prayed. In that prayer, I asked God– really demanded from God–to tell me what to do. I remember yelling, “God, WHAT DO I DO! TELL ME WHAT TO DO.”

I got an answer. A voice resonated in me that caused me to tremble and said, “Samuel, go to mass.”  Now, I know that seems irrational. God speaks to us in different ways, but talking to us directly? Seems a little out there. But I wholeheartedly felt that God had said this to me. Well, when you think this happens to you, you for sure start going to Mass. The seed I feel that God planted was for me to live a life of faith. Going to Mass was the soil that this seed was planted in, and the Eucharist became the drops of water that slowly helped it grow.

When love blooms bright and wild.

A little seed grows slowly. At first, I don’t think I was allowing myself to be present at Mass. I felt disconnected and worried that someone would say, “You shouldn’t be here!” Grace came slowly to relieve this, like the first budding of a seed. As the year went on and I started to be transformed by faith, and I knew I needed to do something with it. I did not want my faith to exist only on Sundays, so I started to do service during the week. Well, service was like fertilizer to my little seed, and I wanted more so I would keep growing.

In response, I decided to help lead a retreat for sophomores. Then things really started to blossom. I felt a need to engage with people who were grappling with their faith. A year of service was the answer. My service year with FMS cultivated my little plant of living a life of faith. Through community life at Casa San Salvador, work as an office associate at the FMS office, and faith-building lessons each week, Francis and Jesus became my gardeners. The little seed was becoming a blooming flower.

Had Mary been filled with reason, there’d have been no room for the child.

Had I brushed off the voice that told me to go to Mass at the beginning of the year, or had someone dismissed it as unreasonable, illogical, irrational, the little seed for a faith-filled life may not have grown. God starts with little things, mustard seeds. It might not make sense what you feel God is calling you to do. But if we trust God and take the opportunity, if we listen when the little voice inside our hearts says something and we let it grow as Mary did, the love that blooms becomes wild and bright. Soon (but not as soon as you may want), that little mustard seed becomes a whole garden of love that together, with God, we can say “is very good.”

Reflection Question: When was a time you felt God speak to your heart? Did you try and embrace what God said or did you resist what it might meant for your life?