God, I’ll do anything you want, just don’t ask me to be a Sister (or a Priest)!
That was the first thing both of us thought when we found ourselves pursuing God’s plan for our lives. We were ready to do something radical and bring Christ’s love to a needy world, but we had stipulations on how that should look.
Wear a dress for the rest of our lives? No way!
Have people hold a preconceived idea of who we are? No thanks.
Chastity, poverty, and obedience? That sure is a lot to ask of someone!
But the idea of religious life was like the hound of heaven that kept pursuing us until we both knew we had to explore it. Thanks be to God’s grace and mercy, He was able to point us in the right direction, prepare our hearts, and give us the clarity and courage we needed to recognize that we could live a fulfilled life as brides of Christ.
3 Things To Think About When Discerning Your Future Vocation
If any of you have found yourself in a similar situation, we want to offer the following consoling thoughts:
1. God desires your happiness more than you do!
Sometimes we forget that God isn’t out to get us. He has created us for something amazing and wants us to succeed. We are His beloved sons and daughters and, like any parent, God wants us to live a joy-filled life. It pains Him when we are suffering, lost, or in moments of despair and anxiety. The deep-down joy you have felt in a moment of adoration, on a retreat, or sitting by the side of a lake––that’s how God wants you to feel all the time! So, whatever vocation He calls you to, you can be assured that you will find unending joy in it.
2. God will not send you to the convent (or seminary) if He did not already put the convent (or seminary) in your heart.
In our own discernment and for many young women we have met, we fear that God is going to ask us to do something we really don’t want to do. Entering the convent or seminary is oftentimes suggested to devout young adults who take the time to go to daily Mass, adoration, and prayer groups because it seems like the obvious thing for them to do. But when they imagine themselves in that vocation, there is no peace or joy. If that is how you feel, it’s probably because God isn’t calling you to religious life or the priesthood. We need good, holy, Catholic marriages and families, too! God has created your heart to be fulfilled in one specific vocation, and as St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Do not be afraid that God is going to make you do something He didn’t create you for. From our mother’s womb, He has anointed us and called us by name. Trust that He knows what He is doing.
3. You are not alone!
We were both reluctant discerners and very intimidated about sharing our discernment journey with anyone else. But it is so important to find a trusted spiritual director or friend who can walk with you as you discern God’s plan for your life. We view everything very subjectively and can contrive all kinds of reasons as to why our plan is better than God’s. However, somebody else sees our lives objectively and can give much needed insight as we wade in the sometimes murky waters of discernment. And it’s amazing that once you start sharing your doubts and uncertainties that you find out you’re not alone in how you feel!
This past year, we started the Fiat Project, which is an 8-month discernment program for women in their 20’s and 30’s. All of the participants said that the support of the other women in the program was one of the greatest benefits of participating. They realized they were not alone in their experiences and found great solace in having a community of women who understood them. Who has God put in your life to walk with you? Allow yourself to open up to them and accept their loving guidance.
If you have ever been attracted to the idea of religious life or the priesthood but thought it really wasn’t for you, maybe God is inviting you to reconsider. Just remember that He wants to see you happy, fulfilled, doing what He created you for, and surrounded by a loving community. And that sounds pretty good, right?
Beauty of a Salesian Vocation
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