Scared to discern

Has anyone else been in the position where you wanted to do God’s will, but you were afraid to discern because you didn’t want to find that God’s will was different than what you really wanted?

I’m 18 and I’m (sort of) discerning my vocation. I always sort of assumed that I would get married someday. I don’t remember my parents ever talking to me about different vocations. I never really thought about a Religious vocation (at least not seriously) until a Priest asked me if I had ever considered one. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. But I’m afraid to actually discern because I’m scared of what I’ll find. Does that make any sense?

I kind of like the thought of being a Religious Sister, but at the same time I don’t. But at the same time I really, really want to get married.

So I guess right now I’m just scared and confused. I know I’m still really young, and I have a lot of time to figure everything out, but I just like knowing everything all the time. I’m also not the most patient person in the world.

I really want to do God’s will, but how do I if I’m too scared to discern?

Thanks and sorry this was kind of long! :slight_smile:

Pray for God to take away your fear. You will find yourself being drawn one way or the other. God has a plan for you. It’s a good plan.

I’ll pray for you.

You will find that the truth is: God’s will is what you really wanted (and possibly didn’t yet realize it).

Sometimes we feel worse and suffer most when we have no clear decision or direction.
To clarify we need to make some research, self-questioning, and then do something to actively check the possibilities…but we do need a clear plan or we wear ourselves out.

Consider if you did feel called to be a religious, it would be as a contemplative prayerful nun or as a sister active in the community, as a nurse, teacher, or missionary, or any other likelihood.
Contemplative nuns do have a community life, work in the garden or fields, often have some small supporting industry, and spend prayer times together and alone.
Each kind of community has its own challenges and benefits, and it’s a lifelong choice.

For years I wanted to be a Carmelite nun but it wasn’t to be.
And everyone believed it would be so…though I remember no priest ever said anything about that. My mother died when I was just younger than you and as I had several younger brothers and sisters, my practical considerations were in helping Dad give care to the little ones.
Instead, marriage and children.

My parish priest discouraged me, but as he left the Church not long after Mum’s death, unknown to me at the time as we had moved interState, he may not have been the best guide! When in sadness I spoke of that to a friend, a Carmelite prioress, about that, she simply said, “You are a Carmelite though.” "You are a Carmelite although there were no vows and I was a mother of three? But that’s what she said.

We can be as fearful of marriage as of religious life, but have their own challenges, and as married saints have shown us, it is possible to live a holy life as a married person.

Both parents of Saint Therese wanted to be a nun, a priest. It wasn’t to be so,
Instead they had five surviving daughters who became nuns, one a canonized Saint and Doctor of the Church.

They both tested their vocation…but it wasn’t to be.
If you do some research, and also examine your nature and preferences you may be able to decide upon a possible direction, contact the nuns/sisters and test your vacation by talking with them and even living in.

However, please don’t give yourself a tought time.
If God is calling you to religious life, or marriage, God will guide you quietly and gently. He will give the necessary graces.
May God guide you

1 Like

I am a 33 yr old male in discernment, there is really nothing formal, and what i am finding out is that the fear is normal.

age,race,or gender it really doesnt matter… we all go through the fear…

ultimately God will show us something, how we accept it is another thing…

I would like a married life myself, a son, a wife, a career, preferably my own gig that i own, operate and run, but as much as i have tried to make a go of things it doesnt work out, i look at the one thing in my life which as been a constant, that is my faith… so now i have been asking why I fail in my own dreams and goals, yet, i havent failed in my faith in God… Why do I find strength in God, at Mass etc… ?

and i dont know… but i am going to push as hard as i can to find out why and if i am ment for a vocation even with my fears and doubts, i want to at least make certain i am not ignoring something.

I managed to schedule a vocation retreat in July for the priesthood, I would suggest you consider on finding your own retreat to attend, to not be afraid to ask questions to either a priest or nun that you feel comfortable in talking with.

and look up what the word Discern means, it is not a contract you enter into, it is a time of questioning, and listening and reflection and prayer.

if we can not move past our fears of being called into a vocation then it might be a strong sign we are not ment to be in one.

but i would imagine if one keeps moving forward in the vocation process through the fears, and the fears eventually take a back seat and then fade away, then perhaps a vocation is ment to be.

oh and don’t be afraid to continue asking questions in this forum ! plenty of smart and great people here.

Sure. Happens all the time. God is so great, isn’t he? He’s not in a hurry, He waits.

Did you ever want anything other than marriage BTW? Are you interested in college or a career or travel?

  1. Makes sense to me to get out on your own and find out who you are a bit more and what you like.

A priest asking you is not a call. You thinking about it is not a call. If God calls,you’ll know. It will be quiet, insistent, and just sort of like a persistent fly that keeps buzzing about.

Now go be 18 and don’t worry about it, is my advice.

It’s the hardest thing in the world to do, following the footsteps of the invisible.


Of course it makes sense. It’s not a completely unknown attitude to be scared, but it is something that you should try and overcome. As Bl. John Paul II said, “Do not be afraid, open wide the doors to Christ”. Pope Benedict XVI followed that up in his first homily, saying “Do not be afraid of Christ”.

Maybe you just need some inspiration? I find that Fr. Claire’s talk from Rise Up 2011 is pretty inspiration to people (so was Vernon Robertson’s talk if you’d like to hear a talk about being Open to the Holy Spirit). Maybe that’ll help you focus your thoughts and overcome some fear. There was also a good talk entitled Jesus Brings Freedom (the audio quality is a little shaky at times though) that personally touched me quite a bit (the idea is “What lies have we believed”. It’s a very good talk that’s good for examining yourself).

Don’t laugh at me for this, but I was in a situation comparable to yours when considering law school. I was for so long on the fence.

I finally realized that (a) two excellent college friends of mine who were lawyers in good firms were desperately trying to get out, and (b) the half dozen or so lawyers and judges I spoke to said that doing law was unpleasantly and unfulfilling and that I should do something real and productive with my life.

Knock on concrete and you get answers. Talk to a range of different religious folks.

Let your gut speak on it, too; your gut take on things here does count for something. AND remember that if a decision is good, it yields the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf., Galatians 5).

Reading books on the potential vocation could certainly help. Talking to a nun is also a good idea. God will reveal his will to you. Just have faith.

God Bless.

Thanks for the replies! I really appreciate it :slight_smile:

I just graduated from high school and I’m taking some time off to try and figure out what to do next. I have no idea at this point :shrug:
I’ve wanted to be so many different things, but marriage was always a constant. Now I’m not sure about anything, and I really don’t like that :frowning:

Just have faith.

For me, that’s easier said than done… but I’m trying :slight_smile:

Discerning my vocation. What does that mean? I read that so often but how do I discern my vocation in general?

The thing you said that struck me was that you hadn’t thought of it yourself until a priest asked you if you ever considered it. What if he hadn’t asked?

I promise you if God is calling you He will make that known to you again. And again! Maybe not for years, maybe in 5 minutes. Until then, go… go get a nice summer job. Go volunteer at a museum or a zoo. Go take a retreat at a religious house just to deepen your relationship with God. Go walk dogs at an animal shelter. Read something. Do stuff.

But also know that you don’t have to get married. We all plan on marriage as we grow up, after all, our moms were married! But, now you can embrace a new possibility. You don’t have to decide anything, just know there are other avenues of reality for your life. It’s good! All doors are open! A little uncertainty keeps us on our toes.

And God bless you abundantly.

I don’t know. I guess I would just be trying to figure out my career, rather than vocation.

I promise you if God is calling you He will make that known to you again. And again! Maybe not for years, maybe in 5 minutes. Until then, go… go get a nice summer job. Go volunteer at a museum or a zoo. Go take a retreat at a religious house just to deepen your relationship with God. Go walk dogs at an animal shelter. Read something. Do stuff.

But also know that you don’t have to get married. We all plan on marriage as we grow up, after all, our moms were married! But, now you can embrace a new possibility. You don’t have to decide anything, just know there are other avenues of reality for your life. It’s good! All doors are open! A little uncertainty keeps us on our toes.

And God bless you abundantly

Thanks for your advice! I really appreciate it! :slight_smile:

I can relate to you 100%…I used to be really confused and afraid of my vocation. I desired marriage and, like you, I was very fearful of my vocation being the priesthood simply because that would mean that I wouldn’t be able to get married one day.

Anyways, since I was having troubles finding a girlfriend a little while back, I figured that I really needed to figure out what my vocation is and whether marriage is really what I should be looking for. I read in the link that I attached below that if we feel that we are called to a secular life then we should ask God for more evident signs that we are called then if we were contemplating religious life since the secular life has more paths to destruction then the religious life has. So what I did was I prayed to God that if He did not give me a clear, evident sign that I was being called to marriage within one week (such as meeting a good, Catholic lady), that I would firmly resolve to take this as a sign that my vocation is that of religious life (this was an incredibly scary thing for me to do and I was shaking as I was praying these words).

The next several days were incredible. God helped to me to defeat my fear of not getting married by showing me that this fear was really the result of an inner desire for lust that had been hindering me. After finally understanding the story of Tobias and Sara I realized that our desire for marriage needs to come from an inner desire to do God’s will and not to satisfy our own selfish appetites. As the week progressed I found my fear of not getting married starting to disappear… the desire to be married was still present but the thought of being a priest or religious no longer frightened me. By the sixth day I was starting to feel comfortable with the thought of preaching homilies or living a contemplative life. I went to bed that night feeling very close to God’s love and I honestly don’t know how long I was asleep before I was jolted awake by a dream where I was surrounded by blackness and the following words were spoken to me very clearly. The words said: “I am calling you to be a married man”. When I woke up, my heart was racing and I felt such tremendous excitement at the complete confidence that God is calling me to the vocation that I truly desired.

Now that I look back on this past year, I understand exactly why God took until now to reveal my vocation to me. If God had told me what my vocation was before I knew how to let go of my fear of not getting married or brought my future spouse into my life before I was ready, I never would have had to address the lust that was in my heart and I would have gotten married for the wrong reasons. I’m sure I still have a long ways to go in learning how to properly approach dating in this new mindset but I know that when I’m ready God will bring my future spouse into my life.

My recommendation to you is to start by reading the following catechism on vocations. It really helps to have good, clear instructions on how to properly discern a vocation (which I’m sure can be quite different for different people):

If things are still not clear to you, I think you should then pray to God for Him to reveal to you what it is that He wants you to do next in your life (or what it is that you need to work on). You may not be ready to know what your vocation is just yet, but it’s never a bad thing to pray to find out what’s next on God’s list of things for you to do in your life. :slight_smile:

As far as the fear goes…as was mentioned, just keep praying for this to be alleviated. Remember that fear comes from Satan and the Devil wants nothing more then to keep you from your true vocation. The day will come when you will have to face these fears to keep moving forward in your discernment process, but I truly believe that God will give you the special graces you need to deal with this when that time comes (like He did for me).

God bless, my prayers are with you! :slight_smile:

Wow, that’s a really amazing story! Thanks for sharing :slight_smile:
Thanks for the advice and the link! I’m definitely going to read that. Oh, and thanks for the prayers! They’re very much appreciated :slight_smile:

This forum is so great! It’s nice knowing I’m not the only one who has gone through this :slight_smile:

This could have been written by me when I was your age.

I was never one of these women who wanted a high-powered career, I wanted to be a mother. I assumed that my life would follow a normal path, that I’d get married and have children. I was like you, I just had this little niggling though about what it would be like to be a Religious. But I also still just wanted to get married and the idea terrified me so I pushed it away and tried my hardest to ignore it. As hard as I tried that thought never went away and eventually, about seven months ago, I realised I had to discern. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain - if there was even the slightest chance that this may be my vocation how could I ignore that? I had to learn to trust that God knew what He was doing and when I learnt to do that the fear just melted away.

God calls us to the life He knows will make us happy. Any vocation is a call to joy and in any vocation there are sacrifices to be made. But the blessings and the graces of following the will of God more than make up for those sacrifices we make. It’s taken me a long time to realise this. For a long time I mourned those losses and those sacrifices - the husband I will never have and the children I will never bear. But I think of the life I will lead as a Religious and I want nothing more in this world than that. Your vocation may be to the religious life, it may not be. But you have nothing to lose by discerning and investigating it.

How much do you know about the different kinds of religious life, the formation stages for Religious, etc.?

Thanks for the reply! :slight_smile:

I know a little bit. I’ve only looked at a few websites. I was mostly looking into the Dominicans. I don’t really know that much about anything, though.
I’ve been thinking about maybe going to school for teaching (I figure that’s something I’d be able to do no matter what my vocation is). We’ll see what happens.
I have to learn to trust God’s plan for me. That’s something I’ve been having a hard time with lately.

If you like Dominicans and teaching then you might be interested in the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (also known sometimes as Nashville Dominicans) or the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist (commonly abbreviated at DSMME’s). They’ve both thriving communities and I’ve heard only wonderful things about, I actually have two friends entering these communities soon. The DSMME’s offer discernment retreats for young women that several of my friends have attended and have said were very helpful so a retreat may be a good idea for you too.

God can throw some good curveballs. When I first felt called to religious life I was dead set on joining an active teaching order - now I’m discerning with a cloistered contemplative community. I knew someone who was in religious life for years and then left and discerned her vocation was to marriage. So you never know where you’ll end up!

If you do have any questions about discerning and religious life, feel free to PM me. Vocations are something of a passion of mine and I’m always happy to pass on what I’ve learnt.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit