Isabelle, air traffic controller
Attracted by Christ, but not inclined to a life consecrated to God, Isabelle for long lived a divided life. Today, her career as an air traffic controller does not prevent her from journeying with the Emmanuel Community.
I grew up in the southwest of France, near Lourdes. I always loved Christ. As a child I read the Passion each night before falling asleep. I cried in my bed, not understanding why people treated Jesus so badly. I loved the Church too. Then the young people of my age began to desert Sunday Mass in the village. I was the only young person in a small congregation. People said, ‘Isabelle will be a good nun’. For many people a good sister was someone who had not managed to get married and in addition was not good for very much. I grew up with these ideas. I was completely divided. On one hand, I had a great thirst for God. I loved going to the grotto at Lourdes, I was touched by priests and religious who were filled with God, like the parish priest of my village. On the other hand, I tried to convince myself that I would not become a nun. This resulted in a festive and very social student life and doing unusual sports such as parascending. This reassured me.
After graduate studies in Toulouse, I came to Paris in 1999 to carry on my work as an air traffic controller. I was more and more unhappy. The compromise that I was living did not make any sense. A friend told me about the Youth Forum in Paray, and I went there. I thought I would easily find a priest there for confession. I did. And I found God’s mercy. And so my life has changed. I understood that it was Christ who would make me happy. I started going to Mass during the week, to pray every day, and the question of vocation came back. I did not speak about it, neither to myself, nor to anyone who could have helped me, nor to God. It was there, just like a fear.
In August 2000, I was back in Paray. One evening they invited all the people committed in celibacy to come up to the podium. A lady sitting next to me said, “I thought you would go up too”. I said ‘no’ in a sly way. Then she said to me,
“Like me, it must be too late”
This sentence was to be the cause of much reflection afterwards. Back home, I decided to talk to the Lord about it. I realized very quickly that He knew better than I what would make me happy. Then I cried and I prayed the prayer of Fr de Foucauld,
“Father, I abandon myself to you, do with me what you will.”
From then on I started my journey in life committed in celibacy in the Emmanuel Community. I sometimes think of the joy I felt the first time I welcomed this call from the Lord. This joy has never ceased to increase. This is something major in my life. I continued to do my job as an air traffic controller. I try to be a presence among my work colleagues. I pray hard for them, that one day they will also meet God’s mercy.
Testimony which appeared in ‘Il est Vivant!’