Letting Go and Letting God: A Controlling Sister’s Story
By Teresa Reardon
Growing up as the eldest of four siblings, I often tried to control my sisters—the choices they made, the friends they had, the clothes they wore and the way they acted. So naturally when it came to our family’s faith, I tried to encourage them to follow the Lord.
As I have gotten older, I like to think my maneuvers have become a little more tactful. For example, any time my sisters move to a new place, no matter which country I am in, I look up all the young adult ministry in their area and sign them up for email updates about Catholic things going on. If I know a good Catholic friend or person that lives nearby, I slip them my sisters’ numbers and ask them to invite them to Catholic activities.
You would think my sisters would be annoyed, but I think they are so used to my meddling that they have just accepted it. I don’t think these tactics have had long-lasting effects but hope it’s helped provide options for socializing with other Catholics.
After years of using these tactics, I was surprised to find that the most effective way of evangelizing my family was to leave home! As Jesus says, a prophet is honoured everywhere but in his hometown. My family always answers the phone when I call from a foreign country. One of my sisters constantly thought I might die in missions so she felt obliged to talk to me every week. She went so far as to ask me for all my password info in case she needed to access anything in an emergency. I had more exciting things to share and perhaps more love because of the distance.
When I became a missionary, my desire for my family to know Jesus grew even more. I encountered Jesus in ways I never had before—in the poor, in community life and in God’s Word. And like many missionaries, my greatest desire was that my family would know Jesus’ love as I did. During my formation I prayed a lot for my family. I tried to grow in my faith as much as I could, realizing that the most convincing argument for the faith was my life totally given to Him. When I talked to my family I shared with them what I was learning and even offered to pray with them on the phone.
In God’s timing I have been blessed by half of my family visiting me in missions. Some of them might say they were pressured to come and support me. It didn’t matter what it was that got them there—I was so happy they came. My life is not just made up of stories and pictures, but of experiences and relationships.
On each trip God did way more than I could have asked or imagined. I witnessed miracles in my sisters’ and mom’s lives.
Charlotte: My First Visitor
My first year in missions my sister Charlotte came to visit me. I remember how excited I was – the first person from my family to come to experience life in missions and meet my missionary friends. It filled me with such joy to see her jump right into my life, so open to embracing a foreign culture and people who didn’t speak the same language. She was interested in understanding the needs of the people and wanted to know how best to relate to them.
During the trip she had been praying all week about what story to share of how God worked in her life. She was really struggling because she wanted it to be something meaningful to those she was speaking to. Well God provided her with a testimony on the trip – an adobe wall came tumbling down on her and she miraculously made it away without a scratch.
Since then Charlotte has visited me at our mission base in Louisiana and her friendship and interest in my mission are a great support. She says that going on the mission trip and visiting the FMC community in Louisiana were both spiritual shots in the arm.
My Mother’s Return to the Church
My mom came on a mission trip in November and during the trip she came back to the sacraments after more than seven years. Right before the trip she had left her protestant church in search of a church closer to home. When she came to Mexico she was reminded of her childhood Catholic faith.
The Lord stirred in her heart as she prayed the rosary with us and attended Mass. I always prayed for my mom to return to the Church, but I never imagined it would happen so fast. Since she has returned home she attends Mass and a Catholic bible study regularly.
What was most interesting and humbling about these stories was that I had little to do with the things my family experienced. I didn’t have to make sure they sat next to the right people. I didn’t have to check on them each day to see if they made time for prayer.
But rather, I sat back and watched God work. I am embarrassed to admit that I was initially surprised and skeptical each time God did something. But now as I see the fruits, I’m convinced. God did more than I could ask or imagine for my family and all He asked me to do was pray and watch His will unfold.
Another Missionary in the Making
At the end of the trip she told us all that she wants to live her life for Christ and sees missions as the best way to do that! She recently came to Louisiana for a “Come and See”, FMC’s introduction to full-time mission life. Wow!
In all these experiences God proved that He is the one in control. His miracles have proved true. In the words of Mr. Frank, our founder: “When you say yes to Jesus and follow the Lord’s will, He uses your sacrifice as a springboard for all your intentions.”
God is really blessing me but this isn’t just a story about my family. God desires to bless all of us in giving Christ our yes and surrendering to his will.
To learn more about Teresa’s missionary journey, click here!