If you have read any of my other posts, or the “about me” page, you know that I have been married for nine years and have four children. But before I started dating my husband I considered becoming a nun. The timeline of my life goes a little like this:
- Born, raised, and (moderately) educated in Catholicism
- Went to public university and began attending daily mass to ease the pain of homesickness
- Got increasingly involved in Newman campus ministry, and developed a real prayer life, learned the teachings of the Church, and developed holy friendships
- Started to wonder if God wanted me to be a nun, so under spiritual direction I began exploring and visiting convents
And this is where things begin. I was really caught off guard, quite frankly, that I would even consider becoming a NUN. WHAT?!?!? For the overwhelming majority of girls, marriage is the path to travel down. And I suppose for me it was no different. When I was growing up there were a couple of nuns at our parish and school, but they didn’t wear habits, they didn’t live in community, and they didn’t seem to have a life that I wanted to live for myself.
But as my prayer life deepened, and I was exposed to a wider variety of religious orders, it became clear that I should at least ask the question, “What is that God wants from me in life?” I was terrified to ask, and terrified to share that thought, but slowly I was brave enough to do both. I ended up researching orders online, and considered those orders in conjunction with my own inherent loves and desires. In the end I obviously discovered that God was calling me to marriage, but I remember that time fondly, and I know that the journey of that experience has helped me to be a better wife and mother. So here is what I learned:
All of life’s important questions should be directed toward God.
Then: I realized that it was my entire life’s future I was talking about, so I wanted to be sure to get it right. I was terrified of getting it wrong actually. Like anyone else, I wanted to be happy, and I knew that happiness consisted in living out God’s will for my life.
Now: My husband and I together place all of life’s important decisions before God—if and when to have more kids, what career advancement opportunities to take advantage of and which to let go, where and how we should serve the Church, how to be good stewards of our money, and so on. Life is hard enough without a compass, and for us, guidance from God is what brings peace.
God’s will is revealed in practical ways
Then: When it came to actually looking at specific orders, I really didn’t know where to get started. My spiritual director at the time said to look for an order with a clear apostolate [they are specific about what they do], and to look for an order whose work interested me regardless of religious life. I was studying Human Development at the time, anticipating that I would be the director of a child care center, and lo-and-behold I found a Carmelite order in California that ran a preschool. Also, teaching is something that kind of “runs in my family” and I ended up coming across the Nashville Dominicans whose whole job is to teach. Both orders really resonated with the temporal things I was already interested in.
Now: I don’t get the hours in the adoration chapel or daily mass like I did when I was praying about God’s will for my life. But I didn’t have peace about my vocation until I left the chapel and did something with that conversation. I had to actually go visit those convents. Now I am forced by the nature of my chaotic life to be at peace with God working through the practical parts of my day.
“At last I have found my vocation: my vocation is love”
Then: At the time I was looking at convents, I was reading St. Therese’s autobiography, and this line always stuck out to me. It gave me comfort in knowing that even after she was already living the Carmelite way of life, she longed to know her “vocation”. It helped me to understand that discovering God’s will can be revealed within a state of life that you are already living.
Now: The line from St. Therese helps me to know that discovering my vocation is a lifelong process. And just like a young French Carmelite nun from 150 years ago, my vocation is also love. I must love my spouse. I must love my children. I must love the other mothers in my mom’s group, and our pastor, and the old lady at the grocery store who thinks I don’t have my toddler properly dressed, and so many more.
It makes me open to, and excited about, the possibility of one of our kids having a religious vocation
Then: I can’t exactly say that my news to my parents about visiting convents went over well, and it was a growing process for all of us. I had the experience of knowing the concerns and apprehensions of parents whose child is considering such a counter-cultural life.
Now: In our family we talk with our children about God’s will for their lives, both possibly being called to marriage as well as being called to a religious life. We focus more on being close with God so He can direct their life’s decisions. We foster a love and respect for both the married and religious life, and my husband and I talk excitedly about what God has in store for our children’s future—whether that be marriage and kids, or to be a priest or nun.
This article posted through Catholic Bloggers Network.