I've seen many posts in the vocations forum where people mention that their families are opposed to their entering religious life - can we discuss this?
In my discernment it's been / still is quite an issue because my parents aren't religious at all, so they simply can't understand A) belief in God and B) why this would drive someone to give up all their material possessions in pursuit of the most spiritual life possible.
I think, from my personal experience, that it's much harder dealing with parents and siblings (or even close friends) who are against one following a vocation than it is from anyone else because we WANT them to understand why we would do that. We want them to understand what drives us, what defines us because it's what we care about most deeply. Most importantly, we want them to listen when we try to explain...I've broached the subject with my mother a few times now and the most recent exchange went something like this:
"But if you love God, why don't you become a Priest instead?"
"I can't, the Church doesn't ordain women. I'm trying to tell you I'm thinking of becoming a religious sister, the two are nothing alike".
"You can't be a Priest? But then why don't you become a vicar? I thought they can be women?"
".........You're telling me to leave the Church and be an Anglican vicar?"
"Why not? They still believe in God, right?"
I literally spent the rest of the evening in tears not just at the thought of leaving the Church (and the true faith that Christ gave us), but because there seems to be an unbridgeable gap where she thinks she can make "suggestions" for my benefit that don't take into account anything I've told her up to that point (we've had the Priest/vicar conversation several times now and she hasn't taken on board any of my explanations about the difference between Priesthood and religious life and why women aren't Priests etc.).
I don't want to whinge, this isn't a pity-seeking thread at all! I'm just trying to make sense of it all and I think the reason it hurts is because it's probably the only time in life where parents can't advise us, as it's something so personal and private between the person discerning and God that family can only stand on the sidelines. The realisation that they don't actually know best and can't provide all the answers, so it just boils down to whether they are supportive or not. At the moment I think I'm going to have to not talk about it with my mother any more until I come to a decision either way, because it's making me even more conflicted and unhappy than I would be if I couldn't talk to anyone at all.
I've not talked about it with my father because I know he'll be even less helpful. I have older sisters who are quite high-flyers and I feel like my parents are holding me to the same standard, so I'll be letting them down if I don't pursue a career and a family. But I don't feel like that life is for me, I want to live entirely for God and devote myself to Him. As I'm only 22 I know they think I'm too young to be sure of a decision like joining a religious community, but they have to see that it's my life and if I do genuinely have a calling, then I have to follow it no matter what they believe or think I should do.
Is anyone else dealing with anything similar? How do you cope?