June 19, 2015

Serra Club vocations essay

‘Pray. Listen. Act. Repeat”—a game plan for discernment

(Editor’s note: Following is the first in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2015 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

By Ella Gebke (Special to The Criterion)

Ella GebkeTo me, discernment means obtaining the ability to judge and unlock God’s plan for me on Earth.

In a video I watched about discernment, the slogan was, “Pray. Listen. Act. Repeat.” I think that these words really apply to me in my journey of discernment.

To discern my vocations, I am praying to God. By doing this, I feel closer to him.

I pray in many different ways. I confess my sins to God regularly. I ask him to help me improve and become a better person, and I also ask God what he needs me to do.

A couple of years ago, a religion teacher taught me a very important and memorable lesson. She told me that God was not our vending machine. God has a purpose for us in life, and we aren’t here to constantly be asking for things, such as, “God, please help me get an ‘A’ on my math test,” or “God, help me find my necklace.”

That’s not praying. That’s using God as a vending machine. The teacher said that to obtain a strong relationship with God, we have to sacrifice ourselves in prayer by occasionally saying, “God, what do you need from me? What do you need me to do?”

My prayer intentions have changed since that day.

I am also listening to what God is telling me, even at an early age. To decipher what God needs me to do, I think about my life. I think about what gifts and talents God has given me, and how I can share them with others.

I am also trying to unlock some of my own mysteries by trying new activities, exposing myself to new places, positions and volunteer service opportunities. By doing these things, I think I will be able to understand the plan that God has made for me, and of what his long-term journey for me consists.

If I find a service opportunity that I enjoy, I will repeat the activity, knowing that God might be calling me to participate.

So far, I think that my vocation might be to married life with children. I love playing with my younger siblings and being part of a family. I love being around younger kids and baby-sitting.

My parents have always set a great example for me, and I think that I want to be that role model for some of my own children one day. My parents have also always helped me learn and grow. I want to be that guiding figure for my children.

(Ella is the daughter of Kevin Gebke and Amy LaHood. She completed the seventh grade at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Indianapolis last spring, and is a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. She is the seventh-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2015 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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