Some of you may remember that I used to have a project called The Vocation Operation, aimed at providing resources for those discerning a religious vocation that I ran with a friend. We both ended up busy and the blog fell by the wayside but I’ve decided that I want to start it up again. I’ve moved the blog and am working on developing the resources we had and want to change and add a few things. So if you’re discerning a religous vocation or just interested, please stop by and see what we’ve got – more will be added soon!
I felt I was called to religious life. I was discerning with a wonderful community that I loved and that were happy for me to apply. Yet I had this little voice in my head that went “What if you’re wrong? What if you’re called to marriage?” and I was so scared that it might be right and I prayed so hard for it to not be right.
I feel I am called to marriage. I have a wonderful relationship with a man I love with all my heart, who wants to marry me. Yet I have that same little voice in my head saying “What if you’re wrong? What if you’re called to religious life?” and I’m so scared that it might be right and I pray so hard for it to not be right.
Are these feelings a temptation? Is one of them right? Which one?
I don’t know how to tell.
When I was discerning religious life the call I felt was an immediate call. It was very much a right now. I visited a community two or three months after beginning to seriously discern and went to St. Cecilia’s two weeks after that. My live-in was six months after that, and that was the first opportunity I had for a visit that long since I was at university. When I ‘officially’ announced I was no longer discerning religious life, I was already in a relationship.
I have realised that I am no longer in a position to be urgent in the short-term. I have financial responsibilities I must attend to, amongst other things. I couldn’t enter a convent anytime soon anymore than I could get married anytime soon. But my mind is still in that place of immediacy, of wanting everything to be right now. I think that is a significant part of the distress I have felt recently – I have wanted things to be more immediate than is possible.
I have been so rushed, so hurried that I think I need to take space from any kind of vocational discernment and think about now for a while rather than focus on the future. I need to find myself again in my spiritual life without discernment.
I haven’t posted much recently, and the reason for that is that I’ve been struggling. I have this same problem in that I need to go to Reconciliation, but I just can’t. I don’t feel contrite. I realise how awful that as, and it’s tearing at me but I’m just not. I want to be, I really want to be. And I suppose that’s something but it’s not enough. It’s getting better though, I can feel that pain in my soul from being separated from God and recently I haven’t felt that so I can only hope.
I feel like I’m in mourning. Most women who discern the religious life mourn marriage and children. I never had, I never mourned those things. For me, those were not sacrifices. Very little felt like a sacrifice, if I am honest. It might have done further down the line but to me I was always so ready to give things up. I grew up moving a lot, you couldn’t be attached to people or things too much or at least be able to cope with giving things up. For me the greatest cross was my family’s pain, but I knew that was only temporary and would be replaced with a hundred times more joy. Marriage and children were not something I ever mourned. They were what I had always wanted for my life, but when I felt called to religious life I was able to instantly let it go.
I’m not letting go. I don’t know why but this time I’m mourning. I’m mourning the loss of St. Cecilia’s, of the abbey and the choir and the cells and the garden and my beautiful sisters. I’m crying as I type this, that’s how much I’m mourning. I loved it so much there that I wonder if I’m wrong about not being called, but I can’t tell if it’s because of my will or God’s will. I have been thinking of going back to St. Cecilia’s in the new year, not for a live-in but make a retreat on the outside. I feel this need to go back, even just to stay on the outside.
I’m just so confused right now. I’m still thinking of finding a spiritual director because I could do with something, anything right now.
I meant to go to Reconciliation yesterday. Didn’t go. Sigh.
I’m struggling. The Spiritual Director suggestion keeps coming up so I’m going to have to actually start trying to work on that one and not just say I will. I have so much university work to do as well and I’m behind on that as well. I need to start actually getting things done and not just mess around. It’s hard to care about university at the moment, I’m so distracted, so I think having a Spiritual Director will help that as well because I can be more focused.
Although my recent posts may sound for those part very lost, I can see hope. Every day is still a roller-coaster of confusion and conflicting desires. But I can feel that I am beginning to find again that love and deep desire for the religious life. More and more each day I feel that little bit more sure that religious life where God is calling me to, and just as I feel more sure of that I feel more sure that I am willing and able to follow His will. Whereas up until now when my family has asked me whether I will join the community I have answered “I don’t know” I am finding more and more that I want the answer “yes” the next time. I don’t know when it will be, but I know I am going back for the second visit to St. Cecilia’s. And should it be His will, I will enter there.
I may not be out of the darkness yet but I can see the light.