How I pursued my vocation
I was anxiously sitting at my desk in London, tapping my pen on the table. It was the summer of 2012. The same year London hosted the Summer Olympics.
The view from my desk was like what you see in postcards. I had an unobstructed, panoramic view over the river Thames, Tower Bridge, and City Hall. And with the Olympics in town, all of London was buzzing with excitement, and I was in the middle.
I, however, was blankly staring at my computer screen. My mind was elsewhere. In five minutes, I was about to make the decision to leave my prominent and exciting career in consulting.
I was meeting with my boss to tell him I wanted to take a six-month sabbatical to work as a fundraiser for the Catholic Church. I thought I was taking a career break, a breather from the constant hustle of the professional world. I didn’t know then that I would never come back.
For my colleagues, the discussions were about their upcoming projects, promotions, and year-end bonuses. For me, I was thinking about my new job’s perks: reduced income, no window view and no bonus. To top that off, I would be talking every day about religion while asking people for money. What a juxtaposition. In a sense, I saw myself leaving my lucrative career path to become a professional beggar.
I was nervous.
“What’s up, Brice? What do you want to talk about?” Andrew asked.
Andrew, my boss, was one of the partners responsible for leading my team of one hundred professionals. He had always been kind to me since my arrival two years earlier to the company and the United Kingdom. I am originally from the United States, and my career has taken me to San Francisco, Paris, the Middle East and then London.
As I said, I was leaving an exciting career.
“Brilliant, Andrew. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.” Then the ball began to roll, and it’s never stopped.
Then the ball began to roll, and it’s never stopped.
As word spread that I was leaving, many of my colleagues congratulated me on my bold move. I even learned that some of my colleagues were Catholic. I probably would have never known if I hadn’t made the decision to leave.
“Aren’t you nervous about the future?” one colleague asked, concerned that I was committing career and financial suicide. He was right to ask because I did think, “what is going to happen?” I was anxious about the future, but I found consolation that everything would find its course. I just had to focus on today, not tomorrow.
There were days when I doubted myself
At the time, I was working on average 60 hours a week, with another 10 hours on some weekends. I would occasionally return home from work at 2 am. On top of the workload, I was attending night school two nights a week, as I was pursuing a Master’s Degree in Christian theology. Each week, I read 600-page theology textbooks, racked my brain with doctrine and theological concepts and wrote ten-page essays which were due every two months.
The pace was relentless.
Some days, when I was too overwhelmed, I would reach the tipping point and panic. I could barely move my body forward when I walked, and my mind was constantly entertaining thoughts of doubt and despair.
Other days, I just wanted to quit.
I remember one of these days quite vividly. I was in such a panic that after work I rushed to the Polish church next to my house for adoration. I fell to my knees and looked forcefully at the Eucharist, ready to just let out all my frustration and grill Jesus with questions.
As I stared directly into the Eucharist, a buzzing sound, like white noise or air-conditioning unit, filled the church. It was so prominent that everything and everyone around me was muted. I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts anymore. I then felt the Holy Spirit firmly grab me by the shoulders and then shake me, as if to snap me out of my dark mood. Then, words, as if through the buzzing sound, were spoken to me, “Calm down, Brice. Just calm down. Don’t worry. Be patient, and trust me. You’ll see. Trust me.”
So, I did.
I learned to let go and trust Christ
I arrived at the decision to leave my job after a year of discernment. I attended daily Mass, spoke to priests regularly and went on several retreats to a Benedictine monastery. I continually asked God what he wanted me to do, and I took the time to listen to him and journal what I thought he was saying to me.
Also, as I completed my master’s degree in Christianity at Heythrop, the Catholic college next to my house where both seminarians and religious study, I learned the foundations of my faith and spoke with others who inspired me to take this decision.
I discovered, in time, that I didn’t need all the answers to my questions. That’s God’s role. My role was to trust and walk in faith one step at a time.
Gradually, as I walked in faith more, the leap stopped being as daunting as I kept imagining it to be.
“Look, I’m still alive,” I told myself. “I’m healthy, and I have a roof over my head.”
I settled into this new mindset and eventually found more answers. The most important answer I found was to the question, “What next?” The answer is always to trust Jesus, regardless what I thought, felt or assumed, and be vigilant while moving forward.
If I hadn’t learned to do this, I wouldn’t have changed careers, started fundraising for Catholic organizations or launched this website, and you wouldn’t be reading these words.