As someone who is lovingly indebted to God for having been called to a vocation, I wanted to share some of my experiences along that journey (or discernment process) in order to hopefully help others who are attempting to discern whether or not they have a calling. Please understand that God works in many mysterious ways, and please do not take my experiences as the only true way to discern. Rather, I would like you to see the overall working and dealings of God in a life He has called.
I don't want to make this into some huge journal, so I will only mention those areas that I feel helped to contribute or solidify for me that I was indeed being called.
I believe it started back in my youth. You see, I always had this sense that God existed and He knew me - I would always take great comfort in that. However, from my childhood through my sophomore year in high school, I didn't particularly pursue a relationship with Him, instead, I spent most of my time and energy doing things that boys usually do during this time - just enjoying my youth. Yet, when I met up with some old friends while in the 10th grade, they told me very excitedly about Jesus and having a relationship with Him. I didn't buy into it right away, but that one night when I followed the Protestant method of saying the "Sinner's Prayer", I knew that something special had happened. It was from this point that I knew God was real, and that He cared for me.
During those years from this initial revelation about God and through my mid 20's, I had this hot/cold relationship with God. There were times that I was very hot, and there were times that I was very cold. Sometimes even years passed where I had thrown in the towel and left God. Yet, something unique happened each time - God always called me back to himself. No matter how rebellious or sinful I had been, God kept calling me back. Now, being a rather thick headed person myself, it took me a long while to realize that God wanted me. It is here that I realized that He was not calling me back to just a relationship with him, no, it was something more than that. A bond had been established, and He wasn't going to give up on me so easily.
During the next 16 years, my relationship with God became cold and hot again. However, the two extremes weren't so extreme as they were when I was younger. Instead, I would often punish myself because I believed I had failed Him, and even though nothing could be further from the truth, it would make me despair and give up. Even though my spiritual life waivered back and forth, I career wasn't suffering in the least. I worked for a good, well established company, that would keep promoting me until I got to the point where I was living rather comfortably. This comfort became the blinder I slipped on to forget God. I reasoned that because things were going well financially, it was God's stamp of approval on my life which meant I could avoid certain religious practices because God was more pleased with my job than in having me attend church and other things. So, I began to slowly distance myself from Him again. I had developed such a love for and desire to help the poor earlier in my walk. Now I regarded the poor as cursed, lazy and judged by God.
Then in late '08 my life came crashing in on me when I had grown increasingly more depressed (due to my avoidance of God no doubt), and I had a series of life events which were slowly tearing down everything (worldly) that I depended and counted on. The last final insult (as I thought it was at the time) was the loss of my job. Unable to find employment for many, many months just added to my feeling of worthlessness. God had abandoned me - I am all alone. Well, not quite.
It was during the period of being laid off that God began calling me back. Only this time it was the real deal - I was looking into becoming Catholic. As I explored this road further and further, the only saint that I knew about as a Protestant (one which really affected me in a good way) was St. Francis of Assisi. So I bought a medal of him without really knowing anything about him. And it turned out that it was St. Francis who acted like an anchor or a bridge during this time as I came closer and closer to accepting the Catholic Church even though I didn't know that it was happening at the time.