My Journey to my Vocation

My Journey to my Vocation

To really answer the question about when I felt called to motherhood would actually have to start back with the question of when was/did I feel called to marriage.  Mostly because I knew that if I was married I would become a physical mother and if called to the religious life I would be a spiritual mother.  So which one was God calling me to….

I was never really sure about where God was calling me.  I spent 5 weeks in Mexico at a convent praying and asking God – but the answer I got every time was that it was my choice and He wanted me to be happy.  I wanted someone to tell me – I wanted surety and certainty.  I never got it. 

            After spending so much time with the nuns in the convent, seeing and living the life they live I decided to continue to pray and discern the religious life.  While I was there and discerning I remember a nun saying to me, “Why would you want to get married?  That’s a hard life – being a nun/sister is easy.”  I felt for a while ‘called’ to enter the religious life – but not that particular order (they were teachers, I was in nursing school at the time) so it made sense to find a convent or order with the charism for nurses/nursing.  When I came back and started telling people I was met with mixed reactions – some were supportive, some were questioning and some were negative.  These came from family and close friends – making the decision even harder as well as making me question if I was in the right.  So I slowed down and continued to pray, but I realized I was still not certain – still not assured.

            Shortly after I came back some friends introduced me to someone they thought would be a good match for me (though to this day they may still deny it). The whole story of starting to date and dating is another post in and of itself – which I hope to write someday, but suffice it to say that we started dating a few months after we had been introduced. 

            I was open with him and said that I was uncertain of my vocation – but that while we dated I would be discerning marriage.  He had gone through a similar discerning time and had decided for sure that he was called to marriage, but he was very supportive and understanding.  As I dated him I realized that I could be happy either as a religious or as a married woman.  It really was my decision.  Well, if you met my husband you would understand why I chose what I chose.  But – the story doesn’t really end there.

            We were married and hoped to start a family as soon as possible. We were, and have continued to be, very blessed.  (Our sixth child is due this Thanksgiving.)  However, I struggled with my vocation – even after I had children, in times of trial I was tempted to wonder if I had made the right choice – what if God had called me elsewhere and in my selfishness I had done what I wanted and not what He wanted.  And I’ll admit that in times of severe trial I even asked myself if this was what I really wanted.  I realized now it was the voice of temptation telling me that I wasn’t good enough at motherhood, at marriage and I would have been better off in a different vocation.  These lies were just that…lies.  However, it took me a long time (years) before I could completely shake off that particular struggle and lie.  

What I have come to learn and know in recent years (with the help of a spiritual director and especially the writings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Louis de Montfort– though the Gospels and other saints contributed as well) is that I must embrace my vocation.  It was my choice and thinking back to what that particular nun said to me (about the life of a nun versus the life of marriage), in my case, she was right.  Marriage and motherhood are hard – but oh so worth it.  I try and embrace my vocation every day – what that means to me is that I work hard at doing my best – which will never be what I want it to be – but it will be what I can do.  Do what you can, not what you can’t.  I focus on trying to be the best mother and wife and knowingly fail in different ways (sometimes small, sometimes big) everyday.  But the important part is that the next day, I get up and I do it again and I try to do better.  Sometimes I succeed.  If I’m honest I would have to say that most times I succeed.  But that’s not the point, as St. Teresa of Calcutta would say, “God has called us not to be successful, but to be faithful.”   That has been what I strive for; to be faithful. I have asked Mary our Mother to help me in many ways and that has made a huge difference as well. 

            So it’s been a journey and being in the middle of it is a great place to be for me right now.  I can look back and see immense growth.  I can also look back and say, without a doubt, this is where God wanted me – this is where I am supposed to be – this is where I was called.  The challenges in this life are what are going to form me into what God wants me to be and I know that He only ever gives me as much as I can handle.  Even when I fail – He knew I would fail – and in that failure He wants me to come to Him – humbly, and ask for His help, for without Him we can do nothing.  As it says in Philippians 4:13, “ I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

            If you have found yourself struggling, with your vocation, with motherhood or in your marriage I would suggest the following to you.  I highly recommend Introduction to a Devout Life or a small meditation book called Roses among Thorns by St. Francis de Sales and True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort, these books have brought me comfort and much reflection and prayer – all of which have brought me closer to Christ, which is of course our end goal. My spiritual director shared this quote with me and I admit to having come back to it many times, it almost makes me want more challenges and struggles….almost.

The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart.  This cross He now sends you he has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you.  He has blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.”

-Saint Francis de Sales