... commonly results in groans and eye rolling from missionaries. Many missionaries would retort under their breath, "Of course God wants you to [get baptized/go to church/stop smoking]!" This phraseology is not restricted to Christianity or to Latino culture: Muslims are frequently found injecting their sentences with the sacred phrase "Sa Allah" or "Inshallah."
God willing - an interesting saying that quite certainly has religious undertones, yet is not nearly as religious as it connotes. Many cultures tack this onto the end of a sentence habitually, without thinking directly of God or Allah as they speak it. Yet it most definitely indirectly implicates Divinity, knowing that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. This phrase serves as a reminder that, despite our hard work, commitment, plans, and desires, the future is not our own. This is not meant to depress or to echo futility; it is simply to say that our concrete is not God's concrete - there is always room for the unexpected. And, often, the unexpected leads us down paths we may have never explored. The unexpected can bring us to our life purpose; it can usher in cloaked blessings that we are not yet ready to accept or understand.
I know several people - including myself - who have been trying to discover what they can do to make the world a better place. We think big-scale, we think world-scale. Often, we begin to believe that unless our actions and efforts are grandiose and global, they are not worthy. We want to utterly change the world, and we convince ourselves that our small, local actions don't make a difference. Last night I watched a movie about a man who has done great things for himself and for others. At the age of 14, he had his leg amputated above the knee due to bone cancer. The doctors told him he would no longer be able to do the activities he loved. That point of his life became the crux where expected turned to unexpected, where he uttered his "Si Dios quiere." His "Si Dios quiere/Inshallah" moment thrust him forward to an unknown world where he would go on to design a prosthetic leg fit for rock climbing, wake boarding, telemark skiing, and cycling. He had no schooling, but he researched and studied so that he could develop this knee that would allow him and others to function as "normal" people.
As I watched, I thought about how every person truly wants to do great things. "Great things" are self-defined, and luckily, each person is endowed with different talents. As I have watched people throughout the years, I have begun to realize that doing great things does not require us to work on a global scale. "Great things" are where our talents, a desire to serve, and our own happiness intersect. I believe that doing great things also requires that sense of "Si Dios quiere" where we are humble enough to take the unexpected turns, realizing that we are not the owners of our future. It requires us looking ahead to what is opened to us, not back on what we had planned and worked for.