Joy/Grief with regards to vocation


#1

Hello. I intend this question largely to any novice masters/mistresses or vocation directors or suchlike who may be on this forum, but I'd appreciate the input of anyone knowledgeable about the subject.

It's always been said to me that one experiences a great joy in living out one's vocation in life. What would you say to one who is doing so without that joy, but instead seems to be doing so with much grief, or resignation, or sadness? I ask this because I think I'm being called somewhere new now, not so much regarding state-of-life, but regarding work, home, social circle, and so forth. The call has been going on for a year, but after missing a golden opportunity to move on this which seemed almost fated last year, I just can't get over seeing my new call as "sloppy seconds" and feeling great sadness and self-reproach about what I've left behind. I note that I'll be going through the Spiritual Exercises soon with my director to get a better sense about this, but I thought I'd put the question forward here in the meantime so see what responses I get.

So, what is going on here? A defect of faith? Despair? A just self-reproach?

Thanks for looking at this.


#2

If you have a vocation to something, then God will open the doors for you, even if you ignore them.

You can't think of this as "sloppy seconds" though, because that will eat at you forever. It's hard to be happy when you always think that you've chosen "second best".

If you missed something last year, then maybe that wasn't what God was calling you to after all. Maybe he was using the opportunity to get you to concentrate more so that you would find this other call and be ready when it came along. Remember that our wisdom is less then even God's foolishness (1Cor 1:25), so even something that seemed so perfect to us may have really been nothing.

I think the other part is that you have to trust in God. If you're going to be moving work or social circles or anything else we have to trust that God has something waiting for us. He always calls us to flourish, never to failure.


#3

:) it calls to mind Jeremiah. He did NOT want to be a prophet. He clearly was called to it, but he hated it. He wanted it to stop. Even when he would try to just keep it in, he says:

"Jeremiah 20:9 – “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.”

I am not an expert at anything, but I can speak a little bit from personal experience. I was called once by God to do something. It involved leaving my home where I had good solid roots planted and going to a city where I had no family, no friends. It involved leaving all of my life's work behind, with no idea if I would ever return to it. I answered the call, but I did it very resentfully. I did what I thought the Lord asked of me: I moved, I settled in the new place, I tried to find my way and do what he had called me to do. But I did it only half-way. Rather than praying and asking God for strength on this journey He sent me on, I just drank myself into a stupor every night. It was easier. Whenever I allowed myself to think about what I had left, my sorrow was white-hot and painful. I was pitiful, really. I couldn't even pull myself to pray because I was ashamed. Or maybe I was just mad. More than likely, it was a combination of the two. I resented God, I resented myself for listening to him, and I hated myself for doubting him all at the same time. I was more unhappy than I ever imagined myself able to be.

I am so thankful that even through my drunkenness, my loneliness and my shame, God did not change this vocation he was calling me to. He's pretty relentless. :) But He never left my side even though I had turned my back on him. Eventually, I couldn't ignore him any more. I needed His friendship in my heart. In hindsight, I see why His call was so important. I am now a wife and a mother, and this is blissfully what I was called to be. But my stubborn self had a heck of a time getting here.

Long story short, I think its ok for you to be unhappy or resentful about your vocation. If you feel with certainty that it is God's call, try to have faith that your unhappiness will be temporary. Pray to God, ask Him to help you embrace and love His will. It won't always be sunshine, rainbows and unicorns, but it will make your life awesome all the same.


#4

Ophelia, if experience does not make us expert in anything, then what does? And it seems like you and I have been through similar things. Of course, though, it it easier for one to say when he has been through to the other side. Faith seems to be the only way out of this dilemma--or more appropriately through this dilemma. So why is it that we must be dragged down to the breaking point, robbed of all that is dear to us, alone, at our tether's end, and even in the midst of a crisis of identity, in order to have faith? This can grant faith, no doubt, but it can also kill faith!

Anyhow, it's as though I'm now in a Bresson film or a Dostoyevsky novel. Of course it's not "sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns"; it never is, nor did I ever expect that it would. But, at the same time, the awesomeness, as you put it, is just illusory as well. It's never awesome. It just IS, and there's nothing anyone can ever do about it. One can just do and it is what it is; perhaps it brings joy, and perhaps it brings grief. We hope the former, but more often then not it's the latter, and it always has been. Will I throw away the chance for the former yet again, as I so blindly did last year?

Anyhow, Curcly cool, if you want to be a priest, you're going to have to learn more than speaking in platitudes. Those of us in the pews are quite sick of it, to be frank. Unless you're down here in the trenches with me, you just sound like a smug goody-two-shoes. I hope your seminary will train you from those habits.


#5

[quote="bardegaulois, post:4, topic:285223"]
Anyhow, Curcly cool, if you want to be a priest, you're going to have to learn more than speaking in platitudes. Those of us in the pews are quite sick of it, to be frank. Unless you're down here in the trenches with me, you just sound like a smug goody-two-shoes. I hope your seminary will train you from those habits.

[/quote]

Trust in God is never waisted.

The example I always look to is St. André Bessette of Montreal. He was the mastermind behind St. Josephs' Oratory in Montreal. When the basilica was lacking a roof and there was no money for one, he told people "This is not my work, it is the work of St. Joseph. Put one of his statues in the middle of the building. If he wants a roof over his head, he'll take care of it." 2 months later, there was money for the roof.

I can only wish I had his faith.


#6

[quote="bardegaulois, post:4, topic:285223"]
Ophelia, if experience does not make us expert in anything, then what does? And it seems like you and I have been through similar things. Of course, though, it it easier for one to say when he has been through to the other side. Faith seems to be the only way out of this dilemma--or more appropriately through this dilemma. So why is it that we must be dragged down to the breaking point, robbed of all that is dear to us, alone, at our tether's end, and even in the midst of a crisis of identity, in order to have faith? This can grant faith, no doubt, but it can also kill faith!

Anyhow, it's as though I'm now in a Bresson film or a Dostoyevsky novel. Of course it's not "sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns"; it never is, nor did I ever expect that it would. But, at the same time, the awesomeness, as you put it, is just illusory as well. It's never awesome. It just IS, and there's nothing anyone can ever do about it. One can just do and it is what it is; perhaps it brings joy, and perhaps it brings grief. We hope the former, but more often then not it's the latter, and it always has been. Will I throw away the chance for the former yet again, as I so blindly did last year?

Anyhow, Curcly cool, if you want to be a priest, you're going to have to learn more than speaking in platitudes. Those of us in the pews are quite sick of it, to be frank. Unless you're down here in the trenches with me, you just sound like a smug goody-two-shoes. I hope your seminary will train you from those habits.

[/quote]

That wasn't very charitable to Curlycool. He's not speaking in platitudes, he's quoting Scripture. I don't think he sounded smug in any way. He's too young to be smug.


#7

Forgive me all; I know I'm a mess. Men in difficult situations are known to be ornery. Particularly when those situations can last for years without remitting. Particularly when one is given a golden gracious opportunity to move on to a new situation, but then withdraws into the icy ethers of thought and casts it away. In the intensity of the pivotal moment, Orpheus looked back...

I know the truth of what you all say, but the heart rebels. The heart and the mind are not really in congress here.


#8

:slight_smile: I promise you, you are not in a Bresson film. You are not the donkey, man! :smiley: You strike me as someone who may appreciate this. Have you ever read ‘The Power and the Glory’ by Graham Greene? It is a work of fiction that takes place in a true setting, and I really truly think it would strike a chord with you. If nothing else, it should prove to be a good read. It’s gritty, it’s dark and sweaty, and it is about living a vocation that brings you absolute misery. Sounds awful, but it is absolutely redeeming and… I’m not doing it any justice. It’s a classic. Give it a read!

And by the way, I love that you owned that men in difficult situations are known to be ornery. That is EXACTLY what my husband would say.

Good luck and God bless!! And let me know if you read the book!


#9

Ah, you catch my arcane reference to the greatest metaphysical conceit in the history of film! Interestingly enough, I was planning on adding Greene to my reading list this summer. As of yet, I’ve only read The End of the Affair. Thanks for the recommendation.


#10

:smiley: I’m just excited to find another person who would even consider referencing Bresson. Let me know if you end up reading the book. It really is an awesome piece!


#11

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