Vocation. What does that mean? I often find myself pondering where my life is going, and what I am going to do in the future. Will I get the job that I want? Will I be able to pay off my college debt? Will I get married? Or will I follow a different path? These are all valuable questions that will inevitably be answered.
One thing I learned from the Catholics on Call retreat in Albany is that the first step is to contemplate where you want to go, and then discern a path and try it out! What is discernment you ask? Good question. Well, as I was told it is the process of asking “What does God want with my life?” Gosh, that’s a tough question though. The type of question that needs a lot of prayer, and it is okay if you do not know the answer now.
I believe that I have learned the most important simile in my entire life on this retreat. God is guiding you like a GPS. Not like a map. There is no big picture of how things will be. No. Instead there are little routs and God tells you to turn left or right. And if you go the wrong way God will say “recalculating.” This is discernment. So if you are discerning a vocation you need to try it and see if it’s right for you. If it is not you can change your mind. Just make sure to always do what you feel God is telling you to do.
Now you say: “Wait, you talked about this whole vocation thing and how to go about it with discernment, but you didn’t tell me what vocation is!” Great point! The people who lead the retreats could probably answer this better than me. However, I will tell you what I think about the subject based on what I have learned. A vocation is what you want to do with your life. I don’t mean what kind of job you will have, or house, or car, or any of that. Vocation is about where you will end up. Will you get married? Will you become a priest, brother, monk? How about a sister? Or perhaps a lay minister? There are many vocations within the church. I bet you thought there was only one. Well, before the retreat I thought there was really only marriage. That’s what people do right? They fall in love and get married by a priest (who magically pops out of nowhere) and that’s what you have to do. It’s what is expected. Right?
Well, no. You don’t have to take that route. You can if it is right for you. But one thing I have learned on the retreat is that it’s okay to ‘date’ the church. It’s not supposed to be a commitment that you just rush into. A big myth growing up for me was that priests, brothers, sisters, single lay people, just woke up one day and decided that’s what they wanted to do. And it always seemed like an unfathomable option, who just decides that? No one really. Just like people usually don’t decide to get married after knowing someone for one day (at least in our culture). It’s a process of getting to know where you belong in life.
The most valuable experience I had on the retreat was talking to the sisters about why they chose to be sisters. I had been thinking about it for some time and my secret goal was for them to tell me if it was right for me. Well, no one can tell me that but God. However, they did all say something valuable. One stuck out to me in particular. She was talking about being unsure at first. She was even engaged to a man at the time. But she started talking to other sisters and going to their convent on regular visits. It was as if she was playing the field with the Church and a potential husband. After dating them both for a while she decided to commit to the Church. She made it out to be a very conflicting decision so naturally I asked her if she regretted it. I was very shocked when she said no, and that she made the right decision. She told me that surly if she did marry her fiancé they would have been happy, but that she knew something would me missing. And inevitably God guided her like a GPS to the end decision that has given her life purpose.
Everything has their hardships, and no one will ever be happy all of the time in the vocation that they choose. However, if they choose the one that God sees fit for them then their life will have purpose.
The biggest problem that I face after everything that this retreat has taught me, is coming to terms with it all. I have always been the kind of person to just know what they are supposed to do. Just know the next decision to make. This is not the case for what vocation I want to take up. This retreat has really helped me learn that it is okay to not know right away, and to discern with God’s help what my vocation should be. No matter what God is there guiding you like a GPS through the roads of life.