Is God calling me to religious life? Listen to the wisdom that dwells within you
This week is “National Vocation Awareness Week,” I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my experiences as a vocation director and a newer member of religious life.
During a phone call a woman considering religious life asked, “How do I know God is calling me to religious life? How did you know?”
In my response, I can only speak from my own experience. I have learned: No one has the answers to your journey. This is yours alone to figure out. Stop asking the “how question,” and listen to the wisdom that dwells deep within you. Begin by trusting yourself. Our whole lives many of us have been taught to look outside ourselves for answers.
Trusting ourselves takes practice! Like Nike says, “Just do it!” Make a commitment to trust your intuition, your gut, that still small voice that dwells within you. Listen and rest quietly.
Did I mention that you need to “unplug” for this to work? Listen and you might just begin to hear your spirit echoing your purpose in life. Did I say it takes practice? Yup, that’s right! Loads and loads of practice.
The caller asked, “What will people say? What will my family think? Some people have already told me that I am throwing my life away. They asked me if I am running away from my responsibilities. I don’t feel that way. I feel I am running towards something that is calling me,” she said.
Again, I can respond to that only from my own experience. I grew up without a religion and did not know much about Catholicism, let alone Catholic nuns. I have learned that religious communities are in some ways like stores. They all specialize in certain items that serve the people around them.
You have to find the store/religious community that has what you are looking for on your life’s journey. For example, our particular community’s mission statement says that we, “The Sisters of Providence are a community of Catholic women religious who collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy.”
Creating positive change
In the past nine years of my community life, I have witnessed the women of this community on the forefront of creating positive change in the world. Part of our legacy is that we passionately respond, as Jesus did, with love and forgiveness to all people and all of creation. It is part of our heritage of strong, courageous, women leaders to boldly serve, to vigorously pray and passionately practice care for all.
I want you and her to know one simple truth. People will talk regardless.
Your family will learn that you are the same person, and they didn’t lose you. In fact, they actually gained more daughters, sisters, aunties and grandmas! You will learn that you didn’t throw anything away. What you did is turn over the freedom of following your truth. You didn’t run away from anything, but you are moving towards responding and serving the needs of the world.
How did I know?
I knew because for the first time my thoughts about who I wanted to become, and my desire to turn my life over to God matched! These thoughts and feelings put me on a long, arduous quest to discover who I wanted to become. I met them, (the Sisters), and wanted to know more about them. Their stories, their mission and legacy excited me. I knew when I met the Sisters of Providence that they were special.
I witnessed and experienced their faith-filled energy and their trust in what they called “Providence.” I admired the fact that they were highly educated, modern women regardless of their age, who are boldly serving in a modern world. Also, I marveled at the many ways these Sisters chose and were encouraged to evolve to meet the needs of the times. I knew I wanted to grow up to be like the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of-the-Woods. I wanted to live and pray and dedicate my life to Providence with them. I wanted to join my light with the many lights before me and with those who are yet to come. LIKE YOU!
The right choice for me
As I reflect on my life since entering, I know that I have unequivocally made the right choice for myself. I have a spirit that longs to do good in the world, a spirit that loves to spend time in personal and communal prayer with others. I get the gift of living with spiritual women who teach me every day about faith, love, forgiveness and service. When I have conversations with them, I often get this feeling that I am sitting before Jesus taking in life’s lessons. The Sisters of Providence have taught me to listen and trust the God who dwells within me. They have encouraged and supported me to recognize and respond to the needs of the world around me.
So, during this “National Vocation Awareness Week,” let us take a moment and pray for all those who are searching for their way. May we all trust that what we seek is already within us.
For more information about becoming a Sister of Providence plug your device back on and visit Become.SistersofProvidence.org
Beautifully said, Joni! Thanks for sharing so generously about your journey and for accompanying many other seekers!
Beautiful reflection on your own sacred story Joni. I identified in so many ways. May God continue to bless you each and every day.
Thanks very much for sharing your personal journey, Joni! I’m delighted you came to know Sisters of Providence, listened to God and your heart and followed your call from God. Wonderful reflection.