I am seeking some charitable outside perspectives on the patterns in my life with regards to vocational discernment. While I am not looking for opinions on whether I should further discern marriage, religious life, single celibacy, etc., what I am looking for are thoughts and ideas on next steps in discernment. Here is what I have so far:
- Convert—about five years in. Age: early thirties. Have met with two different spiritual directors (only changed due to a move), but not recently. Prayerfully considering whether or not to meet again;
- Dated before conversion but nothing moving towards marriage. Am somewhat traumatized as patterns in my life involve dating men who somehow considered me not marriageable (mainly due to cultural and religious differences, but before I had an in-depth understanding of how this was not so much a judgment of me but rather a result of them adhering to their own faiths), and I have internalized this rejection (which also includes one man who I later found out was married and ceased talking to immediately, of course, but it was pretty painful as faith played a large part of the situation). Dating has also slowed to nothing past casual getting-to-know-you since conversion;
- Very isolated—I have a handful of acquaintances and that’s it. That being said, while it would be nice to have a decent friend or two, I’m actually quite comfortable spending time on my own. I am most relaxed when I can just move at my own pace, and this is reflected in my prayer life (e.g.- Adoration);
- Marriage: I have the attraction to marriage, but have recently been grappling with the reality that, due to my age, even if I marry I may never become a mother. Marriage would be the most difficult for me to let go of for another vocation. But, alas, I also have the biggest impediment to marriage of all: no potential spouse;
- Religious Life: I have stayed with a religious community for a weekend and considered the life…but of the three (marriage, single, religious), this is the one that I struggle the most with on the ‘attraction to the life’ front. I also have a couple of major impediments: student loan debt which will require me to work at least part-time for several more years (we’re likely talking decades) and a strong aversion to communal living;
- Secular Institutes: This is a recent discovery, but I am prayerfully pursuing it. Something about uplifting others in prayer and associating with other faithful Catholics in an inconspicuous manner strongly attracts me to this vocation. To be continued…
I know that I really need to get over my “hurt feelings” when it comes to feeling isolated, rejected, and left out of marriage. It’s very painful to have a background where you have been treated like less than a full person, only to be left completely alone for almost a decade and possibly the remainder of one’s life. I don’t want to pursue a vocation with such feelings lying just below the surface…but I also know that if I wait until I’m perfect, I’ll be beyond the grave before I get there (if I’m lucky!)…how can those in waiting practice being good for others when they are so broken down inside?