STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — We are all familiar with the story of Hansel and Gretel, who when wandering into the dark woods left a trail of breadcrumbs so they could find their way back home again. Each crumb left on the forest floor would appear insignificant on its own, but each little crumb, followed by another, showed the path that Hansel and Gretel wouldn’t have been able to find on their own.
Tara Hoellein, a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, has often received answers, like breadcrumbs, when faced with big questions and decisions about her path in life. These small answers have often come as singular impressions or feelings of comfort — leaving it up to Tara to decide whether or not she’ll pick up that one crumb and look for the next, trusting that she is on the right path.
“I don’t know how everything is going to happen,” Tara said. “At this point I have a plan and I know what God wants me to do, and I’m just following a breadcrumb trail.”
Knowing what path to take in life — where to study, what to study, what to do for a career — is a daunting decision. There are so many choices and options, and it can be difficult to see the end from the beginning. As Tara has faced big decisions of her own, like what to do after graduation, she has turned to prayer and put her trust in God.
“When it comes to trusting yourself and trusting God, I think that’s when we really need to hone in on the promises we received before we started our grand adventure. That in itself will give us the peace we need to continue stepping forward in the dark.”
Tara is well acquainted with stepping forward in the dark. In addition to navigating the decisions that arise regarding her education, she has experienced uncertainty and concern within her family, such as when her sibling and father were diagnosed with cancer. In those moments, where the path seemed clouded over indefinitely, Tara prayed.
She explained that God answered her immediately and clearly while navigating the intimidating diagnosis her loved ones received, but that is not always the case. More often, Tara prays and then has to decide to keep moving forward, even when she hasn’t yet received an answer and isn’t quite sure where she’s headed.
“For me, I don’t get much just staying on my knees,” Tara said. “So, I say my prayer, (God) knows exactly what my concerns are, He knows what my questions are, and I continue living my life, and He’ll answer.”
Although Tara trusts that she will receive answers, stepping into the dark with just a couple of breadcrumbs leading the way is daunting. However, Tara has found that remembering the answers she received in the past gives her the strength to keep moving forward — answers that are much like promises from God that everything will be all right.
“I hold onto the promises I’ve received, and I remember those moments where I clearly heard God’s voice saying, ‘You will be OK,'” Tara said. “I still don’t understand the how, but I hold on to what I know.”
Even though Tara is unsure of where her path in life is taking her, her trust in God and His promises and answers reassures her that no matter what happens, she’ll end up where she needs to be. Even if she is just following breadcrumbs, Tara knows that she will not be left alone in her journey.