Called to Live Right Now

So, after a summer living with nuns I’m no closer to knowing my vocation. I really wanted to know by now. I’m halfway through college. I’m sure plenty of girls before me knew by now and either dropped out to join a convent or were dating the man who would become their husband. And here I am…lost.

Only, I’m not. As my perfect dream of knowing my vocation started to tumble around my ears I realized that I know my vocation–at least, I know my vocation for right now. Today, right now, I am called to be a friend, sister, daughter, and student. I’m called to be a Catholic, a child of God, and I’m called to work on that relationship day after day. Yeah, I don’t know what I’ll be doing 5 years from now. But that’s ok. (And no, that’s not easy to accept.) God knows what I’ll be doing in 5 years. So, that means I have no reason to fear, really, as long as I’m following Him.

That following is a huge part of what I need to work on right now. We can always be doing better. And no matter where I am called greater virtue and a better prayer life can only help. I don’t want to waste these single years. These years will form the person I will be when I do meet my future husband or join that convent. And I want to be prepared.

More than preparing me these years give me opportunity. At no other point in life will I have so much time on my hands. Yeah, I work, I’m a full time student, and have a social life. But really, when I’m a teacher, a mom, or a sister, I’m going to have less free time. Right now, I can get involved in clubs, do service projects, spend lots of time in prayer, and work on being a better person. I can do things that I won’t have as much time for later. I can also help others and evangelize my peers who may be searching or uncertain.

The point is I’ll never get years like these again. And I should use them for all their worth. To become a better person, to help others, and to do the things I won’t be able to do as easily later on. For example, once I’m married or have a job or enter a convent I won’t be able to spend my summer out of state working on an hourly wage at a nursing home (at least not as easily). I won’t be spending so much time at my parents’ house with my siblings. I may not even live in the same state as them. I need to savor this time.

God’s been teaching me about trust these last few months. And for me, there’s few things that rank higher on the trusting scale than trusting that He’s got a plan when I don’t know what that plan is. I want to know! Although, yeah, I’m definitely scared of what He might ask. Right now, it’s like there’s a fog in front of me that tries to trick me. Am I supposed to go this way or that way? But, in reality, that fork in the road is years away. And while maybe I want to know which path I should take I don’t need to know.

So, I guess, I’m left trusting Him. He’s come through before. I’m the one who needs to work on following when I don’t know where I’m being led. I need to focus on where I am and what I’m called to be right now. I need to see the little choices in front of me. Those matter too. There’s a saying: “whatever you are, be a good one”. Right now, I’m a daughter, sister, friend, student, and Catholic. So I should be a great daughter, a loving sister, a loyal friend, a hard-working student, and a devout Catholic.

This summer I heard a homily on how the law of God is not meant to be constraining, it’s freeing. So if I’m freaking out over my vocation, I’m probably doing something wrong. Maybe it’s just not time for me to know yet. In the end, I just need to trust that by following God, I will be led to the right path.

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NAS: If I’m Called to Religious Life…

So, I’m finally making the plunge and linking up with Jen and Morgan for the Not Alone Series for the first time. I’ve read some of the posts before and admired it from afar. But I’ve never really felt it was the link-up for me. But thing’s have changed lately. I think this post will help explain why.

My first time joining this link-up and this is the topic I get:

While most of us feel called to marriage, it is important to see the beauty in all vocations! If/when you were discerning religious life, which communities interest(ed) you? What do you see as the positives of that vocation?

This is actually a perfect topic. Because discerning religious life? Yeah, been there, done that. Kind of.

Okay…story time.

When I was in high school I was coming into my faith. I was realizing the beauty of it and starting my personal journey with God. I was enamored with the whole thing, with the joy and the community I had found. I was also a helpless romantic. As a sophomore in high school I remember saying to a priest that I was pretty sure I was called to be a sister. I wanted what they had and perhaps, in a way, I saw it as the logical next step on my journey.

Then came senior year. A year of decisions. I was still contemplating religious life and that fall I went on a discernment retreat. In adoration I believed I received a sign. I thought that I should look at religious orders dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Later, I recalled that I had already visited one such order. After that, I was pretty convinced that the sign had been true and this was God’s way of saying that this order was where I was supposed to be.

So a month later I visited them. I hated it. I didn’t feel welcomed I didn’t feel at home, I didn’t feel peace. I was confused and upset. But…this was where God wanted me. Or so I thought. And that was the most upsetting part.

I wrestled with it for months. Eventually, I decided I would do it. I would join the convent. Needless to say I hadn’t discerned properly. I’m not saying you can’t have reservations about your vocation or that you have to love every aspect of it. But from my understanding God’s will should bring you peace not the twist of emotions and dread that I felt.

Thankfully, God was at work. I told my mom that I would be joining the convent. The next day she put down a housing deposit at Benedictine College. She said she wanted to give me time to think about it. Well, it didn’t take long for God to tug at my heart. I came for early orientation at BC and loved it. I wanted this. And it’s where I’m meant to be.

So here I am, finishing up my sophomore year of college. I’ve done a lot of thinking and discerning this year about my vocation. I don’t know that I have it all figured out. I don’t think I’ll wind up in religious life but if I do, that will be okay with me. I’ll get to have prayer and daily Mass scheduled into my day for me. My life will be simpler and spent in service to others. And if I get married that will be okay too. Ditto with single life. Every vocation has its challenges and its joys. I’m still trying to figure out which joys will be mine. In the mean time I’m continuing to discern and I’m waiting. Waiting on God. And potentially waiting on my future husband. 😉

The positives of religious life, I think are things which initially attracted me to it and which I still see as beautiful and appealing: living in a community of  Catholic women, trying together to be holy, and giving yourself completely to God in a special way. Religious life is beautiful and I think it’s important to acknowledge that no matter what your vocation is. I will never be a priest but I still acknowledge the beauty of that vocation.

If God does call me to the life of a sister I’m fairly confident it will be to an order with some sort of apostolate such as teaching or possibly nursing. The School Sisters of Christ the King come to mind, as do the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. I’ve had some type of contact with all 3 orders, the first two especially. They seem to be beautiful orders of happy young sisters living their callings (and having fun while they do so!). Honestly it wouldn’t be so bad.

But I’m still on a journey. And I’m glad to be sharing this journey with my friends and with all of you and to be finally joining the NAS link-up.

 

I Live in Advent

I have come to the realization that my life right now is like Advent. Just like this season of the liturgical year this season in my life is a time of waiting and preparation. Advent prepares us for Jesus’ birth and my life right now is preparing me for my vocation. As the world waited for Christmas, I wait for the day when I will know God’s will for my life.

Advent WreathBut I’m not there yet. Just as we still have a few more days to go before Christmas, I have time to go before I discern what God has planned for my life (unless he decides to conk me over the head tomorrow and tell me what I’m supposed to do). And so I wait. However, Advent isn’t just about waiting; it’s also about preparing. In the same way that Advent prepares us to celebrate Christmas, so I should let this season of my life prepare me for my vocation.

The first and foremost way to do this, is through strengthening my relationship with God. Prayer plays a key role in this as do the sacraments, specifically Mass and Confession.  Sound familiar? In Advent aren’t we supposed to  “Prepare the Way”? So shouldn’t I also prepare the way for my vocation? Shouldn’t I be preparing myself as a Christian for whatever God asks of me? No matter where I’m called, a strong prayer life is essential and will help me discern.

While we return deeper to God, prepare our hearts, and wait with longing for the joy we want to experience, we must also acknowledge that God is with us, always. He never leaves. He knows what He’s doing. He knew exactly when and where He would come into the world. And He knows exactly when and where He will reveal our vocations to us.

In the mean time, we wait and we prepare and we contemplate. The Bible tells us how Mary contemplated what she experienced. We are told that when the angel Gabriel greeted her she “pondered” (Lk 1:29) what it could mean. After the shepherds visited “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). In my experience, discernment requires contemplation. We ask ourselves “what does God want me to do?” “what are my strengths?” “how can I best serve?” Mary also teaches us that discernment doesn’t end simply because we discover our Vocation in life. After all, seeking His will in every moment is sanctity.We will always be learning more and more what is the will of God.

For many of us though, the big question right now is whether we are called to marriage, single life, or religious life.  Perhaps, like me, your Advent isn’t over yet. The liturgical season may be drawing to a close but this season of our lives may have some time left yet. That may sound frightening, but all it means is that we have more time to prepare for the great journey ahead. Christmas is the goal and celebration for Advent. Our vocation is a goal of our discernment but it’s our eventual goal of Heaven that is the most important. In that way, our whole lives are an Advent preparing us for the joy of Heaven.