A year ago from today, I was preparing to leave the United States to work in Spain for the summer as an Au Pair. Before my big trip, I spent 9 months fundraising to get myself to Spain and prepare my heart to serve the Lord. For those who don’t know, an Au Pair is a live in nanny, that functions as a cultural/language ambassador. Au Pair means “equal footing,” because the greater purpose of an Au Pair is to share culture and language. This also means that, families who hire Au Pairs also share a responsibility in sharing their culture with their Au Pair. Au Pairs typically don’t work as many hours as a traditional nanny, and are supposed to be viewed as apart of whatever family they are working for.
I planned on living/working in Spain from May to mid August, but ended up leaving my job mid July instead. Unfortunately, I had a sort of horror experience as an Au Pair. There’s a movie called The Nanny Diaries, where Scarlet Johansson plays the role of a nanny for an affluent family. That movie is a comedy, but it shines a light on the sad reality that there are a lot of broken families out there, who bring nannies into their home to raise their children. These children, are often suffering and poorly behaved, because they don’t want a nanny they want their parents. Watch this movie, and you’ll get a glimpse of what I went through. Ultimately, God very clearly spoke to me, and told me that I didn’t deserve to be mistreated and that I needed to leave my job.
What I went through was traumatic, but through God’s grace I’ve found healing, forgiveness, and ultimately peace. What I’ve struggled with the most, is the fact that I had to leave my job. Quitting is not apart of my vocabulary, and leaving made me feel like I was letting God down. I felt so called to go abroad and share His love with the family I worked for. I was so determined to introduce the kids I cared for to Jesus and show them the beauty of Catholicism.
Before my trip, I thought I would leave my job in August in similar fashion to Paul bidding farewell at Miletus. I imagined establishing deep friendships with the family I worked for, and dreamed of us all loving Christ together. I truly thought that I would establish relationships in faith that would last beyond the summer of 2017.
“When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him,for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.” Acts 20: 36-38
I couldn’t understand why God would sent me somewhere, only to have me tossed out like garbage on the street. For months after leaving my job, I was disturbed by the way things turned out. I was really hard on myself and blamed myself for the fact that the kids did not know Jesus through the time I spent with them. I kept playing the game in my head where I would re-watch that whole summer in my head over and over again, and analyze where I went wrong. I thought to myself “if I would have only done x, y, and z, then this wouldn’t have happened and the kids would be living in Jesus’ love.”
After beating myself up for 5 months, I started to realize that I needed to let God into my heart and help me make sense of everything. I held in the guilt, heart break, confusion, and frustration for so long, all the emotions eventually started to pour out of my heart until I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. In prayer, I began to open my heart to God and let Him know how I felt. I started seeking spiritual direction, in order to verbalize what was swirling around in my head. Eventually, I started letting friends and family into my situation and letting people know that I wasn’t okay. Turning my face towards Christ, and letting His light shine on the dark corners of my heart, allowed His love to heal my soul and give me clarity on what happened to me.
In letting God speak His truth into my heart, I realized that I was not the Savior. I know you’re probably shocked at reading this Divine revelation, but really and truly, I think that in our quest and zeal for sharing the gospel we often forget that Jesus is the only one who can save souls. As disciples of Christ, we have power through the Holy Spirit to speak the gospel truth, helps others find healing, extend mercy, serve the community, and more. . . But Christ is the One Savior, One Redeemer, One God.
As someone who has been a disciple for a number of years now, I can often be hard on myself and think that it’s all up to me. I can forget who I am and think that adherence the the truth is dependent upon my ability to share, communicate, and love. Although scripture tells us to “boast in the Lord,” we must remember that we are not the Lord. Our responsibility is not salvation, but only obedience to His will. God the Father is the One with the plan, He is the One who should be directing our steps and instructing our actions. Our role is to simply follow his will, and let him guide our life.
This realization led me to this conclusion: I was meant to go to Spain, to love the children I cared for and spread the seeds of Christ. I was not meant to stay and nurture those seeds. I was not meant to stick around and watch them mature. I was simply meant to deliver the seeds of Christ, and then let Him take care of the rest. I so desperately wish that I was called to walk with those kiddos, and be there to affirm them in Christ’s love. However, if I would have stayed in that situation, and continued to put myself in danger and allow myself to be mistreated, then I would have been going against the Father’s will. Therefore, I wouldn’t have been proclaiming the truth of God and showing the children how to walk in faith. I would have just been more noise confusing them, and exposing them to more instances of exploitation, abuse, and poor behavior.
I think back to that summer all the time. A piece of my heart will forever be in Spain, and with those kids. Some days are better than others, and I still have moments where I ask God why. I pray for my kids all the time, and I hope to see them one day again in Heaven. Now I’m at a place, where I’ve realized more than I want to be there to nurture those children, I want God’s will to be done. I know that on my own, I was only able to do so much for that family. No matter what I did, no matter how much I loved, no matter how much I cared, I alone was not enough to attend to the needs of that family. What they really needed was Jesus. I left the seeds of faith in Spain, and Jesus will continue to cultivate and care for those seeds.