Editor’s Note: Development and Operations Associate Madeline McKissick reflects on accepting Jesus’ invitation to walk a path of trust. Looking back on doors that God closed to different opportunities, Madeline shares the sense of purpose she found in the door that opened to join DC Service Corps.

I’ve always heard that when God closes a door, He opens another one. This is a tired cliché, but it’s still applicable. I like to think that God closes doors so that He can lead us to the one that He opened just for us. As we wander through life, trying to open doors and sometimes peeking or stepping inside, God eventually guides us to the doors that He wants us to go through and dwell in.

In college, I was always navigating my path in life, wondering and dreaming of what God would call me to do. For years, I felt Him calling me to go on mission. Having been involved with FOCUS for most of my time in college, I thought God wanted me to be a FOCUS missionary. I dreamed up a future in which I led Bible Studies, met with students, and helped everyone who I encountered fall in love with the Lord. I had no doubt that this was the door that God would open for me. I eagerly applied for FOCUS during my senior year of college, but one email from them crushed my dreams. 

When they told me that they weren’t moving forward with my application, my heart sunk. How could they dismiss me so quickly without inviting me to recruitment weekend? Wasn’t this God’s will for me? I prayed in the chapel in the Newman Center that day feeling defeated, frustrated, and disappointed. Amidst these feelings that gnawed on my heart, I still prayed. I told my Father, “Thank you for FOCUS’ ‘no.’ I know you have a better plan for me.” It hurt that I didn’t get what I wanted, but I found peace in remembering that God still had a good and beautiful plan for me.

Because the door to FOCUS was closed for me, I noticed an open window of opportunity. Out of the blue, the Holy Spirit inspired me to create a faith blog. I’ve never dreamed of blogging, let alone blogging about my faith, but I gave it a try. I named my blog RadiantwithJoy.blog, a nod to my favorite Bible verse, Psalm 34:5. Writing about my faith journey came naturally, and I’m always learning more about blogging and improving Radiant with Joy. By our baptism, we’re all called to mission, but that mission looks different for everyone. For me, my mission involves using my gift of writing to share my walk with the Lord and to encourage others to strive for holiness and Sainthood. When God closed the door to going on mission on college campuses, He opened my door to an online ministry.

I spent months searching for a job, a ministry, or a form of service to do after graduation. I tried door after door, impatiently trying to figure out what God was calling me to do. I explored as many doors as possible, sometimes testing the knob to see if it’s unlocked, sometimes looking inside, and sometimes stepping in as far as I could before realizing that I wasn’t supposed to be there. Surrounded by shut doors and ones that I wasn’t sure that I should go through, God nudged me towards Franciscan Mission Service. For too many reasons to list, I could tell that doing a year of service with FMS was God’s will. Holding His hand, I walked through that open door, and I’m still grateful that I did.

This year, I learned that God doesn’t close doors for the sake of closing them or because He enjoys telling us “no.” He closes doors so that He can guide us through the ones that He opens for us. Although I grew frustrated with the doors closed in my face, I can look back on them with gratitude now. I’m thankful that God used those closed doors to guide me towards the open ones. I find comfort in remembering that God has good plans for me, but before I discover His plans, I sometimes have to learn what isn’t His plan. I know that I’m not done running into closed doors, but when I do, I’ll remember that God is using them to point me towards special doors that He opened just for me.

Reflection question: How has God used closed doors in your life to guide you into open ones?