Confused :(


#1

Just over a year ago I started at a Catholic university and really started taking my faith seriously. I really didn’t know anything about Catholicism, I always went to mass on Sundays but that was about it. After the first few months of school, I met the most amazing man I’ve ever known. After a few months of praying about it, we started dating. I really felt as though God was telling me that this was the right thing to do. I felt peace about it and it brought me great joy. I knew I liked him for the right reasons and I trusted that he liked me for the right reasons too.

After a few months of dating, I knew we were in love. But I also started to become really scrupulous. I tend to over-spiritualize everything and I tend to try and put myself in other people’s shoes to empathize with them, but I think it crosses over into comparing myself to them. I started to think that maybe God was calling me to be a nun. Every time I thought of it I started crying and I became extremely depressed. I felt like I didn’t know what I wanted and I didn’t know what would make me happy. When I was feeling the most depressed, I would want to run to religious life. I think I did it because I thought that maybe it would make me happy. I don’t have a very tight-knit family so I felt that I would never be happy in family life.

I finally started getting treated for my depression because it was crippling me to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Once I started feeling better, I realized how happy I am with my boyfriend. We are very compatible, we want the same things, we both stand for marriage and being completely open to life, he has helped me grow in my faith and I know that he is devoted to me. Our relationship is not based on “warm and fuzzy” feelings, I really think that the fact that we survived my bout of depression says a lot.

However, sometimes I still feel a tug towards religious life. I recently read a book that highlighted the beauty of virginity and it made me feel as though it was something that I wanted, or something that I should want. My boyfriend and I have a very chaste relationship, but other mistakes that I have made in the past make me feel guilty and unworthy. Still, sometimes I have these feelings of desiring elements of religious life. Whenever I visit websites of different religious communities, I see the beauty in the lifestyle and part of me wants it, but then I break down crying. Sometimes I feel like since I see the beauty in religious life then I should become a nun. Other times I feel guilty about continuing in my relationship because I feel like since I am attracted to religious life on some level but I don’t really want to join a community, it must mean that my heart is not ready to accept my vocation yet. When I do feel like I really want to get married and have a family, I don’t take my desires seriously because I’ve heard that even nuns desire to have children since it is in our womanly nature.

I have been praying about this for so long and I have talked to several priests and nuns and they have all told me to continue dating my boyfriend. My mom and all of my friends tell me that they can’t really see me doing anything other than having a lot of children and being a mother and wife. These thoughts always bring me peace, but then I remember that no one can tell you what your vocation is. I know I tend to over-analyze everything, but I am really confused. I feel happy when I am with my boyfriend and when I start having thoughts of being called to religious life I start to feel depressed again, even though I see so much beauty in it and I feel that maybe I could be happy as a nun. It’s like I feel a tug and desires towards religious life, but the desires make me feel sad.

:frowning:


#2

Dear Confused: You don't say how old you are, but since you just began at a university I will guess you are around 18 to 20 years old. From the sound of your message, you are just a little too young to be making such a lifetime committment of either marriage or religious life right now. Plus - if you do indeed have a vocation, why would it make you so sad and cry? To me, realizing any vocation would make one feel happy - whether the vocation is to be a religious or to be a married woman. (You do know that marriage is a vocation, just like becoming a sister or brother or priest is a vocation - right?) When I read and re-read your message, I see you appear to feel happier with your relationship with the young man.

I do understand the draw toward religious life. But you say yourself that you tend to "run" toward it when you are feeling depressed. I think that may be because you are seeing and imagining a romanticized version of what religious life truly is. And you see it as an escape from your problems.

Of course, God wants us to turn to Him when we have problems, but that does not equal a "calling" or religious vocation.

Two suggestions, if I may? First, talk about these feelings with the man you are dating. He sounds like he would understand you and he could help you. And besides, if you do have a religious vocation, he needs to know about it sooner than later. Second, you may want to schdule some visits to various religious communities to "try on" the religious life. Many of them offer weekend or week-long visits so young women can actually see what sisters "do" all the time! It may be very eye-opening to you! And the sisters at the communities will talk to you about your feelings and help you sort them out.

Most of all, I would say to take some time. You do not need to make a lifetime committment today. You may need some years to think about what it is you are truly being called to do. Live life a bit. Continue to date your friend. Go to school. God will still be there when you are ready to decide. God bless.


#3

[quote="RazzsMom, post:2, topic:224036"]
Dear Confused: You don't say how old you are, but since you just began at a university I will guess you are around 18 to 20 years old. From the sound of your message, you are just a little too young to be making such a lifetime committment of either marriage or religious life right now. Plus - if you do indeed have a vocation, why would it make you so sad and cry? To me, realizing any vocation would make one feel happy - whether the vocation is to be a religious or to be a married woman. (You do know that marriage is a vocation, just like becoming a sister or brother or priest is a vocation - right?) When I read and re-read your message, I see you appear to feel happier with your relationship with the young man.

I do understand the draw toward religious life. But you say yourself that you tend to "run" toward it when you are feeling depressed. I think that may be because you are seeing and imagining a romanticized version of what religious life truly is. And you see it as an escape from your problems.

Of course, God wants us to turn to Him when we have problems, but that does not equal a "calling" or religious vocation.

Two suggestions, if I may? First, talk about these feelings with the man you are dating. He sounds like he would understand you and he could help you. And besides, if you do have a religious vocation, he needs to know about it sooner than later. Second, you may want to schdule some visits to various religious communities to "try on" the religious life. Many of them offer weekend or week-long visits so young women can actually see what sisters "do" all the time! It may be very eye-opening to you! And the sisters at the communities will talk to you about your feelings and help you sort them out.

Most of all, I would say to take some time. You do not need to make a lifetime committment today. You may need some years to think about what it is you are truly being called to do. Live life a bit. Continue to date your friend. Go to school. God will still be there when you are ready to decide. God bless.

[/quote]

Thank you for your response! That was very helpful. Sometimes I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to know things right now instead of in God's time. I have talked to my boyfriend about my draw towards religious life and we have discussed it. He still feels confident with our relationship but he knows that dating doesn't necessarily guarantee that things will work out. I will continue to pray about it and see where things go. Thank you for your time and God bless you!


#4

Your response has helped me as well. Thank you for such a level-headed and insightful answer!! :slight_smile:


#5

You are both very welcome! I am happy I was able to help a little. :)


#6

To the OP.

I feel for you. I feel the same as you do at the moment, and I am in the same situation, although I have no boyfriend at the moment. I feel called to the religious life, but i haven’t found an order that suites me yet around where I live. I’ve had a few relationships in the past so I’m waiting it out to see if this religious calling remains. So far so good. But it’s ultimately up to God, it needs time.

I think you and your boyfriend sound promising, remain with him, God has blessed you with someone who can make you happy and enhance your spiritual life with God. That is a gift!

Don’t feel bad about not being in an Order, you can still assist the Church and Orders in your spare time! :slight_smile:

God bless and keep praying!


#7

There is a third option as well. You could always explore Third/Secular/Lay Orders as well and be married someday which would allow you to also be a witness to marriage as well as pursue vocation. Another thing to think about is that maybe you should take this time to learn as much as you can about the Catholic faith and enjoy your college years. Pax et Bonum.


#8

Something I have been told has helped others is to pray for God to put the desire for whichever vocation he has called you to in your heart.

He wants you to be happy, and your vocation (whether religious life or married life) is your path to happiness and eternal union with God.

I suggest praying this prayer (or another like it) each morning:

O Great Saint Joseph, you were completely obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Obtain for me the grace to know the state of life that God in His providence has chosen for me. Since my happiness on earth, and perhaps even my final happiness in heaven, depends on this choice, let me not be deceived in making it.
Obtain for me the light to know God's Will, to carry it out faithfully, and to choose the vocation which will lead me to a happy eternity.

I have been told to pray this prayer before, and I have found that doing so has helped me to feel more peaceful about discovering God's will for my life.

in Christ
wayward


#9

Dear Confused,
It might be a good idea to talk this over w/your Confessor. You do have a regular confessor, don’t you? Also if it is possible, you should really try to find a Spiritual Diector…Getting on meds & perhaps speaking w/a therapist is all well & good, but if they are not Catholic, they will have little or no idea of what you are going through. You are in my prayers…


#10

C.M.B.

[quote="RazzsMom, post:2, topic:224036"]
Dear Confused: You don't say how old you are, but since you just began at a university I will guess you are around 18 to 20 years old. From the sound of your message, you are just a little too young to be making such a lifetime committment of either marriage or religious life right now. Plus - if you do indeed have a vocation, why would it make you so sad and cry? To me, realizing any vocation would make one feel happy - whether the vocation is to be a religious or to be a married woman. (You do know that marriage is a vocation, just like becoming a sister or brother or priest is a vocation - right?) When I read and re-read your message, I see you appear to feel happier with your relationship with the young man.

I do understand the draw toward religious life. But you say yourself that you tend to "run" toward it when you are feeling depressed. I think that may be because you are seeing and imagining a romanticized version of what religious life truly is. And you see it as an escape from your problems.

Of course, God wants us to turn to Him when we have problems, but that does not equal a "calling" or religious vocation.

Two suggestions, if I may? First, talk about these feelings with the man you are dating. He sounds like he would understand you and he could help you. And besides, if you do have a religious vocation, he needs to know about it sooner than later. Second, you may want to schdule some visits to various religious communities to "try on" the religious life. Many of them offer weekend or week-long visits so young women can actually see what sisters "do" all the time! It may be very eye-opening to you! And the sisters at the communities will talk to you about your feelings and help you sort them out.

Most of all, I would say to take some time. You do not need to make a lifetime committment today. You may need some years to think about what it is you are truly being called to do. Live life a bit. Continue to date your friend. Go to school. God will still be there when you are ready to decide. God bless.

[/quote]

Can I just say ditto! That is more or less what I was going to stay. Just take your time. What ever your vocation is it won't go away if you aren't living it right now! Just remember that the most, and really only, important thing in life is the here and now vocation. Try not to live in the future. It's good to think and pray about it but your right now vocation is so important as well. I will be keeping you in prayer.


closed #11

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