Friday, January 30, 2015

 Guided by Providence to SMWC
By: Ian Garner
How does faith guide my actions? The short answer is that I try to allow faith to guide all of my actions, though this may be a surprise to many people. The reason for this can be found in Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Outside of going to Mass, or occasionally jumping into a religious conversation if I feel compelled, I typically am not found outwardly expressing my faith. For me, faith has always been very personal and I prefer to keep it to myself, yet it does guide my actions on a day-to-day basis.
When I was presented with the opportunity to write this blog post on how faith guides my actions, I was pretty hesitant. As I said, I have always kept my faith to myself. However, I saw this as an opportunity to share a bit of my faith with others. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 166 acknowledges that faith is a personal act, but encourages us to “…speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers…” So, here it goes.
I am a firm believer of things happening for a reason. Thus, I believe that I am where I am, doing what I am doing, and living each day as I am intended to for a reason. So, how did I come to be here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College? This is my story of how my faith and actions guided me to be here today.
To set the context for you, here is a bit of background on my life prior to coming to The Woods. I married my wife Amy in 2011, and we have one son, Christian, who is now 11 months old. Amy and I are high school sweethearts who went to college together at Marian University. I worked in Marian’s Athletic Department throughout undergrad and was a Graduate Assistant there, while working on my masters at Indiana University.
During undergrad, Amy was a member of the San Damiano Scholars program, which gave students the ability to strive toward using faith as a driving force in whatever vocation they were called. She was required to complete a “simple” service project, but being the go-getter that she is, she decided to work to have a Shrine to Mary built on campus. With much hard work and determination, her dream became a reality in the winter of 2011 and a Shrine honoring Mary was erected on Marian’s campus. Ironically, this shrine was within eyesight of MU’s stadium where I spent most of my nights and weekends working.
Fast forward to February of 2014. I was finishing up my last semester as a graduate assistant, applying for jobs, and awaiting the arrival of Christian. Needless to say, it was a stressful time. Amy was supporting us working as a teacher for the Arch Diocese of Indianapolis. Christian came, and Spring followed. My graduate assistantship was over, and it was time for us to leave Marian to ideally move to wherever I had accepted a job. Yet, I hadn’t found one quite yet. Things were about to change.  
One Sunday, I was applying for jobs and texting with my boss at Marian when he mentioned the job at SMWC that had been posted. Later that day, I applied. Shortly following, I took Christian on a walk to that shrine that Amy had been so much a part of. Amy and I would often go to pray together, but I rarely went alone, and I had never taken just Christian. This was a bit out of my comfort zone, since I prefer the “close your door and pray in secret” technique.  But there I was, out in the open for the campus to see. Faith guided my footsteps to that shrine that day. Looking at Christian, who had fallen asleep, I asked Mary, “What do I need to do? What am I missing?” I said a few more prayers and asked for her prayer intentions to help me find a job in order to provide for my young family. We then walked back to our apartment, passing the stadium I worked at for so many years.
That very same night, I received an email asking if I would be interested in interviewing for the job at SMWC. I could not believe my eyes. The next day, I received yet another interview at a different school. Mary had definitely been listening. I knew I was on the right track and that I just needed to be patient.
Prior to both interviews, I put faith in the Lord once again. I asked that I may be given the words needed to answer the interview questions with clarity and confidence so that I may be offered the job opportunity, as I have always done before any interview. I felt good about my interview here at SMWC, but not so good about my other interview. I said my prayer before going into the interview and then met with the Athletic Director first. Wouldn’t you know, in that interview I couldn’t string together one sentence. I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but I just couldn’t clear my voice enough to speak. It was like I had something stuck in my throat for a solid 30 minutes, not even an entire water bottle could make it better. The second I left the AD’s office my voice cleared and the rest of my meetings went perfect, but my time with the main decision maker had been less than stellar. Perhaps this was just an unfortunate coincidence, or perhaps that job wasn’t the one for me.
While waiting to hear back from the schools in which I interviewed, the day had come for us to move out of our apartment. We decided to stay with Amy’s parents until we knew where we were heading. Even though they are great people, I wasn’t thrilled about this, as the last thing most people want to do is ask your in-laws, “Could we move into your basement?” no matter how short the duration.
As Amy’s brother, father, and I moved all of our stuff out of the apartment and into the truck, my father-in-law looked at me and said, “Hey, Ian do you think this is a sign?” He held up a little picture of Mother Theodore Guerin that had written next to her “Saint Mary of the Woods.” It was laying in the hallway. “Interesting,” I thought.  Amy was a catholic school teacher. Did this merely fall out of a box, even though they were all tightly secured, or was this Mary talking to me? Once packed, we headed north to I69, and what is the last billboard we see before getting on the highway? It’s an SMWC billboard. “Very, very interesting,” I thought. The whole ride I knew that Mary was speaking to me, telling me that SMWC is the place for me. I would have to be blind not to see it. I wanted guidance, and I sure received more than that.
Almost as soon as we finished our move, I got word from Athletic Director Deanna Bradley. If I wanted the job, it was mine. Amy and I discussed it, prayed about it some more, and here I am. Faith leads my every action, as I know that prayer can occur at any time for any reason. Whether in doubt, despair, hope, confusion, loss, love, joy, or any other emotion, I can turn to the Lord and ask for help.
What am I without faith? Where am I without faith? Those answers are not clear. I do know that I may have never applied here. I would have never gone to the Mary Shrine that day. I wouldn’t be me.
What am I with faith? I am the Director of Sports Information and Intramurals here at SMWC, and I am a believer that when letting faith guide your actions, you cannot be steered wrong.

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