My name is Jessica Enstad and I’m a junior at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (UWSP) majoring in child, youth and family studies. I’m a runner, I have a passion to work with children, and I value time with family and friends. Most importantly though, I am Catholic.
Although I grew up in a strong Catholic home, I was able to transition from the Faith of my parents to a Faith of my own when I came to college. A personal relationship with Jesus is what I was taught to yearn for and seek out each day. While being a Catholic college student has its challenges, the unending graces I have received are far greater now and will be even more so in heaven. At first I was hesitant to share my Faith and tell others that I was attending Mass or Bible study, but after a while I realized that who I was didn’t depend on what others thought of me.
My identity lies in Christ alone. Because of my Faith, I no longer have a fear of rejection . I have learned how important a strong community with people who hold similar values is to the Catholic Faith. Authentic and virtuous relationships that are rooted in Christ have led me now to live more fully. God handcrafted and placed these friendships in my life because He knew I was ready. He has chosen me to be an instrument of His work to build and strengthen the community in my Newman Center. I lead women’s Bible study, the rosary and take students to the Salvation Army to volunteer. I find true joy and happiness serving the Church within a genuine and supportive community.
My identity lies in Christ alone.
Because of my Faith, I no longer have a fear of rejection.
However, like all Christians, I have my share of trials and struggles when it comes to walking the path of Christianity. Specifically, I have battled doubt as a young single person in the Church. I think it is a very common inner struggle among my peers; the uncertainty of being single and trusting that God will reveal his vocation to me. I have found that it is so vital to have built a strong personal relationship with Jesus before seeking out another person. We need to fall in love with the Lord and truly love ourselves before we can ever be ready to love someone else. It is so powerful to think that God is preparing you and your future spouse for each other in this moment. Every trial or success you are encountering right now is a part of God’s plan. He is preparing you for your future spouse should married life be your vocation. God’s timing is impeccable and, in the words of St. Padre Pio, we need to pray, hope and not worry.
Although it is not easy in today’s society to be single when dating and the hookup culture is so strong, I know that I am worth the wait. Sex is often portrayed as casual and meaningless in the college culture. As a woman of Faith, it is often difficult to stand behind what I believe and know is right when I am surrounded by so many who engage in behavior contrary to mine. Amidst it all, I find the strength and courage from Jesus; I am a young college student going against the norm and proclaiming that I am saving myself for marriage. My body is of infinite value and I am reserving it for my future spouse. I intimately want to share that bond with the one that God has planned for me. Pope Benedict XVI said “God didn’t create us for comfort, He made us for greatness.” I wholeheartedly stand by what I value. I hope that others know that they aren’t alone. Chastity may not be a commonly used word in today’s society, but I have made that vow to God.
Upholding my values means being the best version of myself every day, however perfectly imperfect I may be. The greatest gift I can give is love. Every person I encounter presents an opportunity for me to love and to listen. I have found genuine happiness and fulfillment by giving of myself for the good of another. True greatness is found in gifting ourselves to another. Mother Teresa once said “Do small things with great love,” and that is what I seek to do each and every day. It doesn’t take profound acts of service; even in the small acts of love, Christ is present. I feel it is my call as a young woman of faith to serve others. I know this is what God is asking of me, to spread His love and shine His light for all to see. God calls us to brazenly live out our Faith without fear of what the rest of the world thinks. We are all made in the image and likeness of God and I strive to live out Christ’s mission and be His hands and feet here on earth.
Story by Jessica Enstad
Photography by Micheal Lieurance