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Nov 02, 2020 283 Freya Abraham,
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My Shalom: Flying High

Amidst the plethora of assignments and tests at University, she kept aside her time to serve the Lord. Wanna know how God rewarded her?

Make a Wish

I discovered the U.S. Presidential Scholars program when I was in middle school. Every year, 161 American seniors were recognized for their outstanding achievements with one of the nation’s most prestigious awards. Looking at the scholars, I thought that they represented an unreachable pinnacle. However, every night for the next four years, I mentioned this program in my prayer intentions. I didn’t necessarily think I was worthy of the honor, but I’d made a habit of asking God for all of my wishes since I was a child. My parents used to laugh when I mentioned the Presidential Scholars at family prayer; no one was more shocked than us when the Lord granted this particular request.

In my family, my mother modeled a relationship with Jesus that was full of affection, honesty, and freedom. God ought to be told of all my plans and intentions, and I was to insist on His opinion for everything, my classes, college, career choice, even the extracurricular activities I participated in. In addition, my parents made sure to take our family to retreats once or twice a year. Throughout my teenage years I received a great deal of consolation, grace, and support from Shalom, Sehion, Steubenville, and other ministries. Regardless of my feelings at each program’s start, by the end I was given the blessing to take lovely things into my heart.

Stepping In

In school, I grew very concerned about the wellbeing of my friends. It was obvious that my upbringing was defined by truths and flourishing with blessings that my peers had never had the opportunity to receive. Even when I couldn’t tell them much about God, I told God often about them in front of the tabernacle. My family attended daily Mass whenever possible and visited our parish on days it wasn’t. In this way, I brought to Jesus my team members, teachers, and especially those who upset me. Their struggles were intensely real, occupying the present moment. In these little conversations, I developed a greater desire to work for evangelization not sometime in the future, but now.

I’ve helped my parish every week since I was seven, singing in the choir, serving on the altar, reading, or teaching. My home is only two minutes from church; I am an “on-call” volunteer, stepping in whenever needed. Through retreat opportunities, especially the Shalom Media Summit, I became more active on a broader scale. With my high school activities, I was already extremely busy when I started volunteering for Shalom. Regardless of my overload, I prioritized any work done for God. I wasn’t able to commit to a schedule, so I gave what I could. During my lunch break I might edit a few sentences for a media post. After my homework I could revise presentation scripts. I even skipped several school days and evenings to assist with Jesus Heals programs and accompany my mother to Victory conferences.

By helping out in areas I enjoyed, I spent time that would otherwise be less fruitful. I was also very particular regarding the quality of my work. In clubs, I took great care when preparing anything for the students I mentored—how much more should I do for my Jesus who loves me? Sharing at least a portion of the graces I had received was my responsibility, but I was rewarded for it. Any assignments or tests I couldn’t prepare for were always postponed or made easy. Once I had a national scholarship application due on a First Friday. The day prior, I was very upset, as I had so much left to write that I was sure to miss my monthly adoration time. Friday morning, program officials extended the deadline by three days. The Bible says that even a glass of water given in the name of the Lord will not lose its reward. How much more valuable is our time? I thought that I was doing something for God, but He was marking every second, using that time to do great things for me.

Prudence Pays Off

Yet, there is more to service than the work done alone. In social settings, we must remain aware of occasions that may influence us to compromise our beliefs. A particular hurdle for students are the trips necessary for club involvement—a crucial part of college and scholarship evaluation. Meetings, conferences, and teambuilding sessions presented me with many stressful situations. Small actions—like avoiding certain music, games, and outfits— formed a barrier between me and my peers. Although the school trips were fun and competitively successful, it was difficult to assure students that I wasn’t judging them for their choices, which were acceptable by our chaperone’s standards. Listening to my conscience even eighty percent of the time was an isolating effort. Yet, on a summer retreat I heard in my heart repeatedly, “I AM YOUR FRIEND.” These emphasized words were extremely significant to me in the school years that followed. Jesus is a personal friend to every Christian; the hard part is being a true friend to Him.

My favorite strategy is to assign the Lord responsibility for everything. Saint Joseph of Cupertino has received notifications of every examination that has come my way, and my mother has prayed in church during each of my testing sessions. While preparing for school competitions, I would ask God what I should write; while presenting to judges I would remind Him to tell me what to say. When starting projects or essays, I brought my notes before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration and jotted down ideas from there. Even for this piece, only a light weight remains on my shoulders—someone else wrote the outline!

Opportunity Knocks

God Himself will make everything possible, as He did for me. For students to enter the presidential scholar selection process, they must be nominated by a state education official. I needed to be among the ten students recommended by mine, but I was from a region unconnected to any state student initiatives. I had found no opportunity at my rather unknown high school to personally connect with my representative. Yet, last year, a new superintendent was voted in who particularly focused on expanding student access to opportunities. She began accepting applications for nominations online, an unheard of change that came just in time for my graduating class. With her recommendation, I was made eligible for the honor God eventually granted me. As servants, we are called to be attentive to the opportunities the Master gives us, not to worry about how they’ll arise.

If we nurture within ourselves the passion to serve, God will provide us with even more chances to do so—He even rewards us for them! Under His direction, we are empowered to do things we could never think to manage on our own. Our Father will not let His children down, especially when we leave the outcomes of our efforts to Him. Our job is to say ‘Yes’, and watch God say ‘Yes’ back to us in ways miraculous for our own life situations. Though our gifts may be small, we offer them to a God who uses five loaves to feed over five thousand.

Let us give Him the opportunity to manifest His glory.

Freya Abraham

©Freya Abraham © is a college freshman at the University of Arizona, a 2020 U.S Presidential Scholar, and has placed 2nd internationally in DECA Business Services Marketing. She is the daughter of Francy and Neetha Abraham and the younger sister of Alfred Abraham.

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