“Your vocation isn’t a problem to be solved, but a gift to be received.” Fr. Cajejan Cuddy
As a young Catholic, that question of vocation pops up way more than it should, can I get an Amen?
I’ve met so many brothers and sisters in Christ who show immensely beautiful examples of their true identity in Jesus–and even people ready to step into religious vocations–and I can’t help but smile and think, “wow, they are radiant with the faith, God is all over him/her!”
And that’s what vocational discernment always boils down to. The question is not, “how do I make sure I get it right?” It’s more, “which path will allow me to love Christ the most, and become the full blossom of who I am?”
In the process, I pick up this weird intense pressure to make a decision right away because people are CONSTANTLY asking me.
And I’m SO eager to know my vocation, shout it to the world, and let it be a sign of my love and dedication to Christ. That’s why I can’t help but think I ‘need’ to know right now.
But, when I uncover that for a moment, if it is my desire is to figure out who I am, what my desires are, to show the world my love for Christ, and dedicate my life to Christ… those are all things I can [and should] be doing, right now. And that’s what these discernment years (and the years lived in deep faith) are calling us to do.
Sarah Swafford offers some great steps for all this, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me sharing them with you, if you’re interested!
Draw Close –Keep your eyes OPEN
What is stopping you from feeling God’s love in your life? Sin, people, temptations, boredom, depression, sadness? Pinpoint it and work on it. Work on yourself and your relationship with Christ, become deep wells of Christs love and lovers of prayer.
Your desires are HIS desires
“Every desire that you have, deep down, was placed there BY God.”
What stops you from fulfilling these desires is that we fill our lives with JUNK. We have to scrape away that junk so we can see these desires with the eyes of goodness, beauty, and truth.
Use your talents! What makes you come alive? What ways in which you serve the Lord are more appealing and enriching? What’s your way of beauty? What pierces your heart? What moves you and brings you out of yourself?
Do that. And do it well.
“If you have this crazy desire to do something for God, don’t think God doesn’t have something to do with that…” -Sarah Swafford
My Love is HIS love
God’s love (reflected vividly through Jesus) is a total-self-donation. God holds nothing back and gifts Himself to us in EVERYTHING. We are called to do this. This is the way to evangelize and reach human fulfillment. When we become possessors of radiant love, we cannot get our vocation wrong.
And like the quote above says, your vocation is a gift to be received. A gift given to you, out of LOVE.
Stop looking for a sign and start living
This one step came to me via answered prayer and advice from a retreat leader. He said, “everyone is looking for some sign–‘God send me this and then I’ll know!’–and there is no sign, the sign is Jesus.” Because if you know Jesus, you know He would reach His hand out to you and say, “what do YOU want?”
Get to know him–personally. Imitate His ways, His love, and His goodness. While doing that, trust Him and the path He walks with you towards. Live as a person surrendered to Him and strive to be one with Him.
In all, I remind myself that openness to seeing the beauty of both the religious life and married life are what we are called to do. It should be a blessing to have to decide between two super loving choices, so we’re lucky to have this dilemma (and I know some of you want to slap me for saying that!) but, it’s true.
God is not a God who forces us to do anything. He want’s us to be happy and will love us no matter what we do in life [even sin–but let’s strive to avoid that.] Listen to His voice, follow the direction of your life, and one day–with patience and trust–He will make it very clear to you what it is you’re called to do.
Sarah Swafford advises: pray, seek counsel from holy people or religious persons, have patience in God’s timing, and then–when your ready; JUMP.
If you’re like me, you probably can’t wait for the jump, but there’s purpose in the other steps too. And even if you get it wrong in the jump, learn from what comes with it. For, “NOTHING is trivial or insignificant in the journey of life and the world.” –Pope Benedict