Trust in the Lord
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding."
-Proverbs 3:5 NASB
Beginning the discernment journey to exploring one's call to religious life is not a decision made at first without some hesitation and question. When I was in my early twenties and the first thought of religious life entered into my mind I wanted such a thought to dissipate from my mind because my entire life all I had ever focused on was going to college and then becoming a teacher. I knew what I wanted or at least I thought that I did at the time, which was to focus on having a career and then if the right man came into my life I would get married. That is what all of my friends were doing at the time, and I figured eventually I would join them. But after becoming friends with a Seminarian and seeing the joy he had and his hope and love for his vocation I started to think what if God was calling me to Him? I would go on the Vision Vocation website and explore the different communities and even filled out the survey, but I could never bring myself to click the submit button because I was too afraid of what others would think, especially my parents.
When I was in my mid twenties that gentle tug at my heart returned to me. I remember one day praying before the Blessed Sacrament, and feeling overwhelmingly sure that my heart's innermost desire was to live out the will of God. It was at that moment I realized that although I had considered marriage to a man, the calling in my heart was to enter into a more intimate relationship with Jesus as his bride. I had worked for several years as a teacher and accomplished what I had very much hoped to accomplish, and it was only then that I could finally be open to listening to the voice of God, and to ponder on the thought that God wanted me now at this time to seriously consider becoming a religious sister. I was finally ready to accept God's will in my life since it was obvious to me the feeling that had come back to me would probably keep coming back to me. It was through daily mass, Eucharistic adoration, and praying the Rosary that I was truly able to listen to the quiet in my own heart and hear God's voice. There were some days I would even sit in the silence on the beach and watch the waves flow back and forth upon the shore. It was definitely a struggle to go to Church more than just on Sundays and have it be unnoticed by my parents because I was not ready to tell them that I felt called to become a religious sister. My father became suspicious and upset because he thought that I was secretly dating someone and leaving him out of the loop. When I told him I was going to Church, sometimes more than once a day, he didn't believe me. How could I tell him that I wasn't dating just any guy, I was dating Jesus?
Now that I am almost thirty years old, and have been in religious life, it is definitely a challenge to keep answering God's call because it would be so simple to just go back to my life previously before I entered a community. But I know that I could try to walk away from my vocation to religious life as much as I want, but God is not going to walk away from me. He is going to keep calling me until I answer Him, and go forward with becoming a religious sister. Although my journey of discernment has had bumps along the way, I will keep on this path because a difficult road leads to a beautiful destination.
Discerning religious life is like waves in the ocean; the feeling of being called to religious life can come and go, but if someone is truly called to religious life the gentle flutter in her heart will keep coming back to her. It is not easy to embrace a calling to religious life, especially when we are met with difficulties or challenges, but we have to remember that God's plans are not always the same as our plans, and our will is not the same as God's will. We need to be open to the Spirit, and accept the wonderful, beautiful story that God wants to write for us if we allow Him. St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, "We are all pencils in the hand of God".