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So you graduated college. What now?

So I did the thing, and got the degree. Now what?

In case some of you were not sure what I was doing with my life, here it is: I am going to be working as a college campus missionary through FOCUS, Fellowship Of Catholic University Students. What exactly will I be doing? I like to joke that it’s the college without the college part, but I promise it’s much more than that!

To be honest, this is how I have been feeling about everything lately: It has been hard. I underestimated how much work I would be putting in from day one, and there were many times where I sat down, cried, and wished to have my old life back. A life where I would probably be engaged by now, where I would be making an income myself, where I wouldn’t have to feel like I was begging for other people’s money.  Where I would feel a sense of pride because I’d be tangibly helping people, healing people, actually making a difference. In a sense, where I could be in control. These were all the lies and fears I let circle in my head when I felt exhausted from a constant fear of rejection.

There have been so many moments of doubt. Is this really going to make a difference? Can I actually be a missionary? What if I am a complete failure on campus? There are so many people who believe in me, support me, what if I let them down?  Oh my gosh, do I even know how to pray? What am I doing? What if I don’t like living in Ohio? 

It has been a color wheel of emotions. I have felt deeply humbled at having to ask for help, at receiving other people’s money. I have had to be patient, and to expect the best out of people. I have learned to be honest, sincere, bold, and compassionate. I have had to blindly trust that somehow, I was going to be fully funded and that all I had to do was ask (sounds simple but it was completely terrifying for me; I had to buy a bottle of Pepto Bismol the first week of fundraising my salary because I was a nervous wreck.)

Leaving my little bubble of security is probably the hardest. I love my hometown. I love being with my family, and I love Murray. But deep down I know that there is nothing left for me here. That I have to let myself be stretched and pushed out of my comfort zone. What’s the point of life if you never do anything that scares you at least once, right?

I have never really been out on my own before, and here I am, being handed a brand new book full of spotless, white pages. Only I think I’m still stuck on the last couple pages of an old copy. This place has given me so much; people I love with all of my heart, so many memories, and countless joys.

As I finish packing up my car today, I can’t help but feel a bittersweet sense of how wonderful it is to have so many people to miss in the depths of my heart. Is there room in there for more? I have questioned the validity of what I am setting out to do so many times. But one memory comes to mind immediately. It happened to me when I was in a hospital, preparing to administer an injection to a patient. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary, simply being courteous and kind. I uttered a quick apology. “I’m sorry I keep having to stick you like a pin cushion,” and smiled. After I was all done, I placed a band-aid on her and began to clean up my area. Tears began to roll down her face.

Alarmed, I asked if I had hurt her or if she was in any pain. She shook her head and in a soft, low voice replied, “Why are you being so nice to me?” Dumbfounded, I replied that of course I was going to be nice! She was my patient, and I was here to care for her. She went on to describe how she was lonely, and felt unloved and unwanted.

And it hit me. If I can help at least one person in these next two years feel loved and cared for, and walk with them in faith and build them up to walk with The Father, all the times of sobbing uncontrollably because I miss my old comforts, my family, my friends, all the nervous breakdowns, the anxious sleepless nights, all of the embarrassment, and pain will be well worth it.

Because I have had it all wrong this whole time. It’s not about me. It was never about me. 

What a joy it is to go out and be able to love the college students of the University of Toledo. Because it’s not about me at all. It’s all about Him. Thank you to all of those who uplift me, and will be following my journey. Without you this would not be possible, and I am honored to share my life with you!

Only crying a wee bit,

Izel Leon 

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