Picture the summer of 2014. Driving on the freeway. Walking along the beach. Blasting music with the windows down.
Is this going to be a typical California summer? Not in the slightest.
It's July 13th. While the rest of the world is enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon, I hug my best friend for the last time. She's going to live up on a mountain, away from the rest of the world. Just her and God.
She's going to be a nun.
See, I come from a world of deep, living, passionate faith. It's hard sometimes. I live in a society that loves to praise those who are counter-cultural, and yet "Catholic" is a brand of counter-cultural that nobody seems to understand.
All they see are rules and Latin words. But all I can see is love.
A love for a God who's a best friend. A best friend who died, He loved us so much.
A burning desire to show Him that even though I can't match that sacrifice, I'm going to try every hour of every day.
A love for a Friend who is there for me even in my moments of pain and brokenness.
A love for the people He's put in my life, who inspire me to be the best version of myself.
And a love that extends to every human being on this earth, because I see my Friend in them, too.
That's the kind of love I aspire to bring to the world around me. I'm trying my best.
But there are some incredible girls in my life who are so on fire with this love that God wants them all to Himself. He's called them to live a life of beautiful solitude and silence, away from the world so that their hearts may belong to Him alone.
He asked them to give up their favorite bands. Their Friday night dances, their movie marathon all-nighters, their favorite ice cream flavor.
(Ben and Jerry's Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz. Just in case you were wondering.)
Basically, He asked them to give up everything they've ever known.
And they said yes.
Because they knew that if one's soul was created for such a crazily counter-cultural, dauntingly beautiful life, it won't find peace any other way.
Let's go back to July 13th, the day I said goodbye to Lindsay. She was the first to leave.
I miss her more than I could ever put into words. But I have a diary full of tear-stained pages that prove I've tried.
You know how I said the vocation to religious life is crazy? It gets even crazier.
Get this. Even though a year later, I still cry when I hear her favorite song or wear the shirt she gave me, I know that she loves me even more now, writing me just two letters a year, than when I saw her every day.
Because she spends every waking moment praying to the God she loves so much, praying that I may find my place in the world like she did.
A year goes by, and it's another sunny Sunday - September 6th. I'm struggling to say goodbye to Rosina, a girl I've known half my life. She's called to be a nun too. She's a quiet, gentle girl, but her love for God is so bold that she's flying alone, to the other side of the country, to follow His call.
(She loved Lord of the Rings. Every time I see a picture of Legolas I think of her.)
And then there's Marissa. She's Lindsay's little sister. She works at In-n-Out, has red streaks in her hair, and spends most of her free time obsessing over bands. Calling her my best friend sounds wrong, because she's my sister. I can't imagine life without her.
But I'll find out what that's like pretty soon. Next year she's entering religious life too.
Somehow I already miss Marissa. Accompanying every passing month is the bitter realization that the next time it comes around, she won't be by my side. She and I will never see another October together.
I could pour out my heartaches forever. Just know that what all this drabble was meant to say is-
All my friends are nuns, and it hurts. It hurts almost every day.
But who says sorrow can't be beautiful, too? My friends are fearless. They're radical. They're doing whatever it takes to find the purpose for which they were placed in this universe.
I'm incredibly proud of them, and I love them so much.
Their example has made me who I am today. I don't know yet what mark I'm meant to make on the world. But you'd better believe that I'm going to find it someday, no matter what the cost.
Because I know now that the incredible hope and peace of finding one's purpose are worth more than anything the world can offer.
All my friends are nuns, and while we can't be together physically anymore, we're united by our love for each other and for the ever-faithful Friend who promises us that every sacrifice we make in this world brings us closer to a brighter, more beautiful one where we'll be together again, and our joy will be complete.