I interrupt this 7 Quick Takes Friday to bring you something much heavier and more necessary for my sanity this weekend. I'm going to the mountains with my beau and good friends and I cannot wait for the fresh air and marvelous views that remind me how much more credit I need to give to God on a daily basis.
Anthony challenged me to write a post about the religious life that dives deeper into my true feelings about the chaste, poor, and obedient vocation. In good faith, he offered the same.
The truth is I have no idea how to discern my vocation. I flip-flop between certainty about marriage, a general openness for God's plan in my life, and back to terror. This (and the profound Love of my unblackened soul) is why I can never be a politician.
I spend a lot of time talking to God, praying the Our Father and Hail Mary, reading what people have to say that either affirms or juxtaposes (therefore confirms) what I believe, and thinking I have most of it figured out. Yes, my faith grows in and through God, but I limit it with my fear when there should be nothing scaring me.
I listened to this sermon, "How to discern your vocation," which a commenter on VirtuousPla.net offered. I wish I heard it in middle school, not because it cleared anything up for me, but because it explains why it's important to discern the religious life before dating.
As I lay in bed, having listened to the sermon, I wept. I wept when I became aware of a darkness filling the void where discernment belonged. I wept because I vehemently don't want to choose away from my boyfriend, if that's what God called me to do.
I ached, a violent, physical pain in my chest, at the idea that choosing a religious vocation meant my children would never exist. My ribs caved in with my silent sobs.
I cried thinking about writing letters to my family and friends instead of seeing them daily or weekly. I cried at the thought of Alternate Elizabeth explaining a choice for religious vocation to her family and friends. My tears fell because the religious life has rarely been a serious consideration and I realized that meant I had walled up a path to God.
As I mentioned in my original post, I know it would be a fulfilling life. The priest in the sermon linked above went so far as to say it is the most straightforward (albeit toughest) path to Heaven. I could work with children, speak a different language, live simply, and create strong bonds with a community.
How beautiful the life of a religious! You choose the tougher path and become a joyful light in the world because of it! Your day is ordered between prayer, service, simplicity, and a healthy helping of patience.
Like the rest of the world, you encounter stress, sorrow, doubt, happiness, surprise, and God's sense of humor. The difference is that you carry the weight of a community on your shoulders with a great sense of humility that it is really Christ's yoke.
The other side of my head (Is it my heart? Is it my self-tradition?) wants to scream out, "I can do those in the vocation of marriage, as well!" Obviously, I have not "solved" this puzzle, but I have seen a void in which prayer needs to erupt. Immediately and without fear.
My sorrow over what is really a new realization doesn't necessarily mean married life is for me. The joyful nature attached to the habit is not exclusive to religious life, as marriage might be my calling. Everyone makes sacrifices in their chosen path. It's about time I start sacrificing that wall of fear and tear it down.
Now, God, I need your help figuring out how to do that.
Ahem: Enough with the kooky titles? This post needs a kooky title because it emotionally exhausted me beyond my abilities to keep things peppy in the body of it.