In 2017, I attended Caritas with a feeling of heaviness I was unaware of at the time. I became comfortable with carrying the daily burdens of life and did not realize my exhausted state. I told myself, "I am a strong and independent woman."  God gave me the gifts of discipline and hard work, and I was proud to use those gifts. I did not feel unhappy, so things must be good, right? The details of my life looked respectable on paper: my parents were doing well, I had a good job, and I was in a four-year relationship. However, there was always a feeling in the back of my mind that things were not right. I often felt more drained than energized at the end of the day. Coming into Caritas, I thought I just needed a weekend getaway to clear my mind. But what I gained was an immense amount of peace, love, and an invitation to growth in giving God the reins to take care of me. 

Immediately as I returned from the retreat, my parents shared my dad would be losing his job. Feelings of shock, concern, and anxiety overcame me. He began taking out his stress and frustrations by yelling at our dogs or me whenever he came home from work. Absorbing the pain and hurt, I threw myself entirely into work. I desired to control the situation and make my home life feel normal and stable again. As much as I tried to ignore the feelings of fear and anxiety within myself, God was reminding me to slow down. Not listening to Him, I kept taking on more shifts at work and added more stress to my life.

Shortly after, my hospital announced it was closing in the next six months. I was not ready for such a change. God kept telling me to take a deep breath and not worry, but I still chose not to listen. I applied for multiple job positions and attended numerous interviews, including opportunities not worth taking. My heart was restless. I began questioning whether or not I was good enough or if I could find another job soon. My need for security urged me to make impulsive decisions out of fear.

During this time, my long-term relationship was also unraveling. My then-boyfriend and I were fighting more frequently and intensely. We both had stubborn egos and were hurtful to one another. I became resentful. I doubted whether we were a good fit. I thought if we put more love and effort, then the concerns would go away. God gave me warning signs, but I ignored them and forced things to work with my willfulness.

Then, all at once, everything came to a halt over these past few months. My dad transferred to a different department and was able to keep his job. Most of the job postings I applied to did not work out for one reason or another. A temporary position was offered to me that led me to a more permanent placement. After weeks of anguish and heartache, my four-year relationship ended because neither of us had the heart or energy to keep working at it.

I realized that perhaps this was God's invitation for me all along, as I reflect on my life unraveled in front of Him. As I create a bookend to these chapters and let go of the things where I have found myself complacent and put value towards - my career, relationship, pride, and sense of control - I am walking with a lighter step. Mourning the loss of my old self, I recognize God is offering me peace and healing as I empty my anxiety, pride, and unhealthy attachments into the palm of His hand. 

Alex Nguyen