Friday, May 15, 2015

Vocation Confusion and Fear

For the past two weeks or so I've been thrown into this sort of vocation confusion. It started with yet another person bringing up another round of "you should become a nun" and ended up with my having to re-discern my vocation as per instructions from my spiritual director. So how did I find myself here? By admitting that I hate dating.

I realized last week that I don't like dating... at least not the way I've experienced it up to now. I think I've just had really bad experiences with some really shady guys. That's a big part of why not dating for years (with valid excuse, teehee) was very easy for me; the pickings have been incredibly slim in this city. I was on Catholic Match for 4 full days and they were the longest 4 days. All the guys who reached out were old enough to be my dad or were (thankfully) honest about their disagreement with the Church's teachings on contraception and premarital sex. I was actually creeped out by some of them so I just deactivated my account. I mentioned this to my spiritual director. When he asked me why I thought marriage was my vocation, I couldn't give him an good reason... because I was afraid that maybe my reasons weren't good enough.

Am I afraid to be called to the religious life? Not at all. If it's what He wants from me, I'll do it. My mother won't be happy but if it's what God wants, it's what I'll do. Do I feel called to it? Not at all. In fact, when people ask me why I'm not a religious sister, I almost feel like they're trying to force the vocation. There, I said it... I feel like having to re-discern the vocation or having people repeatedly ask me if I'm sure I'm not meant to be a religious sister means I've failed to discern my vocation properly... and like it's being forced onto me.

I'll be completely honest about another thing: I have a great fear of childbirth. I think it may be because I've known from a young age that my mother came very close to dying when I was born. The older I get, the closer I get to possible complications... and that scares me. I love babies and I'm my friends' personal cheerleader when they're about to give birth but the idea of me giving birth scares the crumbs out of me. However, I'm very open to this as my vocation. The thought of having children and raising them up to be good, faithful Catholics who could themselves become priests or nuns in the future makes me so incredibly happy. I, myself, don't feel called to religious life but I hope that if I'm ever blessed with children, at least one of them has a vocation to it. Is that weird?

I think my biggest confusion comes from the fact that so many people bring up the vocation to me... and I've had terrible luck with guys. As my spiritual director said, sometimes we don't "feel" called to it but are... but I honestly don't think I am. I've spent time in silent prayer, in front of the tabernacle, doing novenas, reading Bible passages (you name it) and I've only felt drawn to get married. I once felt called to religious life, but I quickly saw that it was for the wrong reasons. I wanted to run away from life and problems from my past. Once I was able to work through them, I saw that I wasn't called to the vocation.

I've seen so much damage done within marriages -- through infidelity, the addiction of pornography, lies, greed, etc. -- yet I'm not at all jaded about the vocation. I see marriage as a beautiful vocation... one that is in danger. My generation (the Millennials) have a pretty grim outlook on marriage which is why so many decide to not get married and simply live with their partners. Yes, we need faithful priests and religious sisters but we also need faithful people (religion aside) to live their vocations of marriage faithfully. We need to raise children in a manner that will strength the Church instead of pull them away from it.

I understand that marriage is not the answer to loneliness or anything beyond doing God's will. So why can't I formulate coherent sentences when my spiritual director asks me? Am I really that afraid of not being called to it? As I said before, I'm open to the vocation of religious life or even a consecrated single... and neither scares me more than marriage. That fear? That fear is of not only having to give birth (I'll get over it, God willing; lol) but of marrying the wrong person. That's where my fear lies. It would be much easier to become a nun or even stay single; I'm incredibly independent anyway, staying solo would not be a problem for me.

Wait, did I just get my answer? Who knows. I'll have to talk about this with my spiritual director next month. If any of you have had any similar experiences, please feel free to let me know what helped you in your discernment.

Alright, I have a number of things to do before the day is over so I'll shut up now. lol.

I hope y'all have a great weekend. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D


Kiera Kurak said...

This is interesting. I've always thought that religious life might be part of your journey. I'll keep praying for you!

Emmy Cecilia said...

Kiera: haha, I get that a lot but so far I'm not seeing it for myself. My heart isn't in it nor do I feel a peace about it. I've visited the Carmelites' retreat house and while it was gorgeous and peaceful, I can't see myself as a religious sister.

Anonymous said...

I am going through some of the same questions! I think it boils down to living one day at a time, into the future Christ has for us. That's all we can do, while using our time wisely and seeking Him fully.

Marian Ninja said...

First off, THANK YOU for your honesty, vulnerability, and openness with this topic! You are sharing an amazingly beautiful part of your self and story, and that's really awesome :)

Secondly, I totally reiterate what was just said-live in the present. When I was 15 and going "discernment crazy," my youth minister told me to "become the holiest woman you can." Because, he said, wherever God put me would involve me becoming holier. So, I could spend my time growing in virtue to prepare myself for whatever. So instead of falling into "vocations frenzy," (been there, done that, it's exhausting!) I recommend taking solid steps to grow in your vocation to love God and others in the present moment.

Well, living in the present moment is super hard, but it was hugely helpful for me. After that talk, I still was a little "discernment crazy," and would spend hours on religious order websites and stuff like that. But I finally got it through my head that I needed to live as a sacrifice of love for God each day, and THAT was my main vocation. And after about 6 years of being hardcore positive that God wanted me in a convent...He called me to marriage, which has been the hugest blessing of my life. But that pull to marriage only really came when I fully immersed myself in God's will at the present moment.

Third thing: I think it's important to listen to what people say, and to take it to heart--but to not be ruled by the decisions of other people. For instance, I have a friend who was told for a long time that he should enter seminary. Not feeling the pull, or wanting to be forced, he didn't. But then, finally, God moved him to enter--this was on God's time, not other people's time. When I started dating, I knew someone who thought that it wouldn't last, and that I would end up in a convent. When I got engaged, there were people who told me to wait a couple more years before marriage. But it all bottled down to what God wanted in the present moment (which was to respectfully listen to these people but not do what they said).

Fourthly: have you read "Searching for and Maintaining Peace," by Fr. Jacques Phillipe? If you haven't, I highly recommend you read it. It's great. I firmly believe that God will grant you a deep peace wherever your vocation lies, and Fr. Phillipe's book says it much more eloquently and awesomely than I ever could.

Sorry that I rambled, I do that a lot, especially when it comes to vocations. But thank you for your awesomeness and your really cool blog (which I happened to find the other day and love). Have an epic day!

Emmy Cecilia said...

sunflowersojourn - amen!

Marian Ninja - I actually have been doing just that; growing my love for God. I think a lot of the pressure is coming from the fact that I'll be turning 30 soon and because I said I didn't like dating. lol. I haven't read that particular book by Fr. Jacques but I do like what I've read by his thus far.

Joetime said...

Is it a sort of angry or anxious voice telling you "Hey, you should -really- look into the religious life..."?

That's what my situation was. I couldn't answer why exactly marriage was my vocation, so this doubt kept creeping into my mind. It caused me a lot of anxiety, and it didn't help when some people assumed that, just because I'm a twenty-something going to daily Mass and adoration, I should join the priesthood. The worst part probably came when I started coming up with homilies in my head as a result. I told all of this to my spiritual director, who basically laughed it off and instructed me, "Put it away. Assume that you're correct and marriage is your calling. If you hear any sort of calling other than that, it's going to be a gentle peace, not guilt-ridden doubt."

For the most part, the feelings of doubt went away. Apparently a lot of my friends had these same concerns; I wasn't alone. God had already blessed me with signs that marriage and fatherhood is my calling and I was doing Him a disservice by dismissing those signs, looking for some loud, definitive proof of my calling (Hi, St. Thomas the Apostle!). Not surprisingly, all of these signs came when I surrendered my will to God, and they were incredibly peaceful. If you're working to be the holiest person you can be, doubt should never dictate your vocation. Remember, Elijah heard God in a gentle breeze, not a hurricane.

The worst part of this is waiting. I hate dating. I'll readily admit that I'm jealous of all those people who seem to find their spouse right away without any sort of anxiety (this is rarely the case, but my perception clouds reality). Two of the women I dated for any length of time last year are now engaged to the men they dated right after me. I'm thrilled for them, as they are very good, virtuous Catholics, but I naturally feel left out. I most recently dated someone for 3 months, but it wasn't going anywhere and I was dealing with a ton of self-doubt of whether to break things off or not. After clearing that doubt, I was able to peacefully and amicably break things off...but now I'm back to square one.

Lastly, I understand your lack of enthusiasm about Catholic Match. Once you whittle down A) the people you're attracted to, B) all the 7-for-7 people, and C) the people you might actually click with, you end up with about 3 prospects (and none are guarantees). While I've had several dates through it, it hasn't yielded a lot of progress other than basic dating experience. I can't imagine what it's like to be a young woman on there, considering all the creeps that are out there, but I suggest you just leave it up and see who contacts you. While it's nice to politely decline, I don't believe you're under any obligation to respond to men who you aren't interested in. If they're offended, that's their problem, not yours. If need be, you have the option of blocking them as well.

Just my 2 cents. After all this, you could still have a religious vocation, but to sum it up- take Marian Ninja's advice haha. Hope this is somewhat comforting!

Emmy Cecilia said...

Joetime - Thanks for the comment. I know you meant well but "you could still have a religious vocation" is sort of what I talked about during today's blog post. I've gotten so many of those comments that it just adds to the religious vocation pressure when I feel a peace in my heart regarding marriage and family. That anxiety / upset voice is more "please stop telling me that this is not my vocation; I can now say, for certain, that it marriage and motherhood IS my vocation but I hate feeling pressured by others to consider something else." That's what upsets me; having others say things that makes me feel like my discernment and my peace about my vocation isn't good enough.

Joetime said...

I should have left that last part out; I apologize. That was just me saying "I'm not actually inside your head so I can't say anything with absolute certainty."

I'd make a terrible lawyer. "Well, all the evidence I've laid out exonerates my client, buuuttt...ya know, I wasn't actually there so what do I know, right?" Shut up, Joe.

Emmy Cecilia said...

No worries, Joe. :)

Peter Romero said...

I wish I could feel peace about ONE vocation, at least! ALL of them are absolutely horrifying to me.