Confused :(


#1

Hi everyone, I have a few questions about vocations.

When I was young, I wanted to be a nun. Looking back, I think I wanted to be a nun because I was embarrassed to tell my parents (especially my dad) that I wanted to get married and it was hard to imagine myself happily married, so I always suppressed the desire. When I was 13, I went to visit a religious community with some girls from my parish. I don't remember much about the day, but I have a clear memory of sitting in my bed sobbing a few days later because I felt like I had to be a nun or God would be disappointed in me...but I no longer desired the life. My mom told me I didn't have to be a nun if I didn't want to be one and I accepted it and moved on.

A year and a half ago, I met the man of my dreams. I literally couldn't ask for someone better for me. I'm no longer in the "infatuation" stage but I know that what we have is something really special. A few months into our relationship however, I started FREAKING out because I realized after talking to a girl discerning religious life that I had never really "discerned" my vocation very seriously. I prayed about whether it was right for my to date my boyfriend or not, but I didn't over-spiritualize (something I have a strong tendency to do). Ever since then, discernment has become an obsession. I never really felt much of a strong desire for religious life. I guess I have always been somewhat attracted to the lifestyle, but I'm not really sure how I feel. My fears were deepened when I watched an Oprah show about some Dominican nuns and one of them mentioned that she tried to suppress her desire for religious life for a long time. Was I doing this too? Am I not open to God's will? How could I know for sure? I began to scare myself so much that my fears were getting in the way of my relationships.

I feel as though I am finally starting to be completely open to God's will, but now I'm even more distraught. I have recently been feeling like maybe I could be happy in both vocations. I've even been fairly sure that I could be happy as a nun or as a wife and mom. However, when I feel like this, I feel as though I SHOULD choose religious life because even though I am still completely happy dating my boyfriend, I should convince myself that religious life will make me the most happy. It has just been a very, very difficult and confusing time. Is it normal to desire both vocations? There have been many signs that I am called to marriage but I'm so afraid of "suppressing" desires for religious life that I become extremely distraught when I feel like I do have the desire. Then the pattern becomes circular because I feel as though I am not open enough to God's will.

Does anyone have any words of advice? My friends and parents seem to think that I have some form of obsessive-compulsive disorder because I have been so deeply afraid of "suppressing" desires or "ignoring" God for such a long time. I almost feel like I'm addicted to the pattern. I really need some advice :(

PS-I have been praying a LOT!


#2

[quote="Nameless6291, post:1, topic:239986"]
..A year and a half ago, I met the man of my dreams. ...

[/quote]

Sounds to me like you are called to marriage. Only a very small proportion of people are called the religious life, and I guess you'd know for definate if that was the case. cheers


#3

I do not see any need to rush into a marriage or into religious vows. I think that you really need to talk to a spiritual director. I have the impression that you need to share your feelings and your reasoning with someone in order to become more aware of what is going inside yourself. Take your time and figure it out while you live your life, God's timing can be quite different from our expectations.


#4

I think sometimes good Catholics make the mistake of assuming that each one of us needs to spend an equal amount of time reflecting and discerning on either marriage or religious life. I don’t think that is necessary for everyone.

I know people who knew early on and with conviction that they were called to be a priest or nun. They never saw the need to date a bunch of people to “make sure” they weren’t called to married life. They knew where they were called.

I myself felt called to married life since the 2nd grade. At one point in college, I spent maybe a week (probably less) praying about whether or not I should be a priest, but God pretty swiftly shut that door for me. I didn’t dwell on it.

I also have known people who seemed almost equally attracted to both vocations. For them, discernment was a longer process.

I would emphasize that I am not a spiritual director (and I second the recommendation to find a good one and work this out with them), but your post struck me as from someone who is not at peace when contemplating the prospect of religious life. To me, that is an indication that you probably are not called in that direction. There should be some sense of peace about where God is calling you. If you do not have peace about either religious life or married life, then that probably means you just need more time to discern.

We need more good priests and religious, but that doesn’t mean that every good Catholic is called to those vocations. Certainly, the last thing you would want to do is to join a religious community out of a feeling of dread and shamed obligation. God does not call us to be miserable with our state in life.

Trust that, if you have been praying lots and you still do not feel at peace about religious life, that God is speaking to you through that feeling of uneasiness. God is not into playing a cosmic joke on us through a sadistic game of vocational hide-and-seek. If you’re praying, go with where you feel most at peace. As St. Augustine said, “Love, and do what you want.” That is, if we are loving God and praying to Him as we ought, then what we want to do and what God wants us to do will be in conformity. Just keep the communication lines open. :thumbsup:


#5

There are Lay Dominicans, Lay Franciscans, and Lay Carmelites that you can belong to when you are a married person. You can participate with the religious by daily praying the Dvine Office, this you can start now and it may contribute to your discernment. Sometimes we humans have to just be quiet and let God speak to us and not try to pursue anthying.


#6

Sounds to me like married life and a vocation to a 3rd order lay community may be an answer. There are many to choose from. Actually, the thought has crossed my mind a time or two recently:)


#7

This is not true. Just because a small portion of people accept their vocation to the religious life does not mean only a small portion are called.


#8

I think we all are called to dicern religious life but all are not called into it. I just read yesterday this - newadvent.org/cathen/15498a.htm and it helped me. I am in the process of becoming a proffesed member of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) - St.Francis 3rd order. My deep religious calling happened after I got married. I decided that family life is what I truly want at this point in my life and can fufill it in a special way in the SFO. I am becoming more and more aware of this path although I still have time(about 9 months) before profession to decide. I think reason and faith have alot to do with our decision making as stated in the above link. You still have time to decide and a good spiritual director could really help.


#9

Thank you all so much for your help! I have decided to start speaking regularly with a spiritual director to help me discern better but your kindness and patience has truly touched me and I do feel more at peace already. God bless you all and thank you so much!


#10

Hey Nameless, I was feeling the same way a few months ago, and I stumbled on this essay on discernment by Peter Kreeft. It gave me a lot of peace, and I believe it helped me figure out where God is calling me. I hope it helps, and I’ll keep you in my prayers!

Peter Kreeft - Discernment


#11

You should get, and meet regularly with, a spiritual director.

Discernment to whatever vocation God has in mind for you takes time, and it takes the guidance of a good director.

When I was studying for the priesthood, one of the monks was fond of saying that he didn’t want any man studying for the priesthood that wasn’t also drawn to life as a husband and father.

It’s natural to have desires for motherhood and marriage as well as consecrated life.

Find an orthodox spiritual director, maybe one that’s a sister herself.

God bless,


#12

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