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.