Ever since my first conversion to Christianity about 8 years ago, I've had this innate desire to serve God's people and spread the Gospel. I entered an undergrad program that would have helped establish myself as a Baptist minister. I absolutely loved it.
Eventually, while studying the doctrine of sin, I fell into what I guess can be called scrupulosity. It consumed me with grief and paralyzed me. I began to think that not only did my personal character and past sins disqualify me from such a role but that I might never be saved. I was also coming to grips with the full financial burden of the school and how unreasonable the debt was becoming. I wish someone would have warned me against that in my youth. These things cost me dearly. I left seminary and, similar to the prodigal, turned to vice in order to harden my heart against such grief. It wasn't my intention to do that really, but it was just one sin after another and sooner or later it enslaved me.
To make this three year long story short, it worked to remove the anxiety but for a time only. I could never escape God. And now I am converting to Catholicism. I like to think that my conversion is part of my spiritual journey. As a protestant, I studied Catholicism with fervency and argued against the Church. But I have always found Catholic doctrine to be quite engaging and now comforting. As a protestant I never studied it with an open heart. This three year period, I believe had but one benefit, to help me openly consider the Church's teachings.
I'm 27, my life adversely affected by the previous three years, and I've got a lot of growing to do. Lots of healing to undergo. I'm excited about it. But that pressing urge to serve God in an amazing way is still pressing. I call it "the incessant nagging" not to really denigrate the experience but to express how strong, powerful, and consistent it has always been. Perhaps it is the wrong choice of words for it.
I have no idea what is to come for my life. My current goals are spiritual growth and the annihilation of debt. I have ambitions to continue to excel in my field. I am not sure if the priesthood or the religious life is what God wants me to do. Perhaps my vocation is simply what it is now. But I feel pulled that way and I have such a love for the idea of serving God and his people full time.
If it is, I do not so much fear serving in that role as much as I do in what I've come to consider the outrageous cost of religious education per semester. I simply do not know how I could afford it and not be enslaved to debt as I currently am. Plus I am starting to feel "too old" for formal schooling. I've been in school most of my life (roughly 70%). I am not opposed to education or serious and constant study, but good gravy man. I am coming to grips with my sin and the mercy of Christ. I am undeserving of salvation let alone the idea of being a shepherd. And that is what makes God's love so amazing.
So pray for me. This is something that I'll come to grips with eventually. I'm not in a rush (not necessarily) but I'd like to know if I need to start truly planning for finishing a formal education.
Has anyone else had a similar experience?