Hello! I’ll jump into it: I have clinical anxiety, and it makes discerning vocations very difficult, so I’m asking for prayers or advice. I’m a 20-something involved in the church and I am so confused about my vocation. I had a spiritual director until about a week ago when he got reassigned to a parish quite far away, so yes, I know that I need one. The problem is, despite knowing all of these things about needing a spiritual director, listening to God in prayer, trying to go on retreats, etc., my anxiety makes things difficult. I know very well that “perfect love casts out fear,” but I still have a chemical imbalance that I know is part of my cross. Passions and feelings are not always the “truth” which I know very well, but they are certainly powerful. If you have anxiety or any exposure to it, you’ll know what I mean - it’s quite isolating and confusing to most people on the outside (which also makes it very hard to find a good spiritual director).
Anyway, I have always felt called to the married life, but I've had an aversion and large fear of the religious life. I once heard that it isn't normal to have an aversion or fear of religious life, because you should be open to God's will no matter what. I believe this. I desire in my head to be open to God's will, and I hope that that makes its transition to my heart. I grew up in a solid Catholic family, but since I was pretty much one of the only "normal" girls who was into my faith, people would ask "so...do you want to be a nun or something?" I did not desire the religious life, and it would scare me a few times in high school because no one (including me at the time) knew about the universal call to holiness. Here's a peak inside my brain: *"I am afraid of religious life, so since I have to surrender to God for that and surrender is a good thing, maybe I am called to religious life."* Yes, it's good to surrender, but doesn't God inform our desires? It would also help to mention that I felt that same spirit of "I don't want this, I have to surrender, so it's God's will" phenomena for pretty much my entire college career about a man I thought I was "called" to marry who I didn't even like, simply because he was holy. It took me some therapy, prayer of course, and normal life to get through that one. Now that I'm graduated from college, I was recently hit with the idea that we need more people to pray for each other, we need more souls asking for mercy. Of course that is true, but it made me think...so am I called to be a sister? I can do that. And we are supposed to put God first; I'm afraid that I will put a human first instead of God. In addition, I have become recently acquainted with a young man who is just an incredibly holy and good person that I enjoy being around. I think he's really cool and open to God's will as well (which is something I aspire to), but I'm afraid of dating him, despite wanting to. We're interested in each other, but I'm afraid of dating him without ever pursuing the religious life, visiting communities, or going on retreats or anything. I haven't explored that, but yet, here is this good man in my path, so what do I do? Does God just want me here? It seems odd to say "yes well that was a great date but I'll be gone this weekend as I'm trying to see if I'm called to be a sister." Plus I don't know if you can really be unbiased that way.
Please keep me in your prayers
**PS ** I mean this in a kind, charitable way and I have been meaning to write an entirely different post about it: PLEASE exercise a little more prudence when you make very serious persuasions toward one vocation or another. Some people need that push, but please ask for wisdom, because you don’t know if the person reading it has something like anxiety that will make them think that what you are saying is a “sign.” I see it a lot with posts on religious vocations. That is a beautiful way of life, but not everyone is called to it, and you could influence someone who takes what you say very seriously.