By Elizabeth McNulty, FC 20
Picture this. It’s the year 2014. The youths of America have decided to band together and single-handedly cure ALS by dumping ice on each other. The nation is devastated when the game flappy bird is taken off the app store and are distracting themselves from the pain by flooding to the movies to see the 2nd Sharknado while texting each other through a magic watch on their wrists. And, of course, a wide eyed, eighteen-year-old girl was starting her first year of college 300 miles away from her cozy home in Northern Virginia. I pulled up to my dorm in the city of Steubenville, Ohio and was thrilled to finally be in the one place in the world that didn’t think I was saying “Stupidville” when talking about my college plans. Now I will be the first to admit that at this point, there was much about life that I was still very naive to. I still didn’t really understand much about how the world worked, or why things happened the way they did. I was still trying to figure out who I was and where I belonged, and most importantly, what God wanted to do through me. One thing; however, that I knew without any shred of a doubt, was that I absolutely loved to help people.
Now I know what you’re probably thinking, who doesn’t like to help others? It’s human nature! For me personally, when I am able to help another human being, another soul, I get a thrill of adrenaline and joy that is incomparable to many other experiences I have had in my life thus far. It is one of the most concrete ways I can both feel and see Christ on this Earth. In my mind, to help someone is to love someone, and to allow yourself to be helped by someone is an equal expression of love. And isn’t that essentially what we are put on this planet to do? Rather than feel alone in a cold and selfish world, I would much prefer to be a part of a movement where love and hope drown out fear and hatred. With this passion in mind, I knew ever since I pulled up to that dorm that I wanted to start living a more intentional life when it came to utilizing some of the unique talents I have been gifted with to make whatever impact I could on the people surrounding me.
Throughout the next three years, I threw myself into several different ministries and mission trips that my school offered. I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Slovakia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, all on separate occasions for mission trips that lasted anywhere between a week to a month. I would end up describing each of these experiences as “life changing” and each had their own completely unique impact in my life. These experiences allowed me to stretch far beyond my comfort zone and meet God face to face through various challenges. I would argue that the people I served were able to give me even more than I was able to give them through their intense witnesses of faith despite their severe poverty. I was officially thirsting for more of these experiences and knew that they would somehow shape my life after college. Thus, after some discernment with a few other service programs, I applied and was accepted to FrancisCorps where I would be helping at an after-school program for a marginalized community. Being a special education major, I was thrilled to know I would be working with children and was ready to completely immerse myself into a year of service, using both the educational skills I had acquired throughout my college years as well as (and arguably of more importance), the tolls of loving others that I had come to learn.