Discerning Your Vocation
Originally Posted Apr 2, 2018 | An Extroverted Millennial Enters the Cloister
Finding your Vocation
Often we think the perfect career is what makes us happy. It is not. It is our vocation. If you are called to be a mom, love well. We need good moms and healthy, holy families out there in this world. If you are called to be religious, love well. All of our vocations are to love. Love the person in front of you. In every second. How are you called to share your love? In that question lies the root of the vocation that God is calling you to enter. Is your love to be shared with your spouse and children or do you feel called to give of your heart to the entire world in religious life?
Find your delight in the LORD
who will give you your heart’s desire.
If we look deep to our true desires, God gave them to us. God placed every single one on our heart. He placed them in us so that He could fulfill them. He yearns to fulfill every last desire of our heart. Sometimes they are desires of the world and not of God. He yearns for us to find what we really seek: Happiness. This happiness which is found in Heaven.
God has answered my heart’s desires here in this monastery. The root of my desire was to spend time with Him, to know Him. Did you know that is your desire too? Deep down we all yearn to be loved, especially by the infinite Love himself. Everything we seek in the world is in order to fill this hole in us for God. We seek to fill it in ways that end up hurting us and the ones around us. If we look to Him, rely on Him, and trust Him, we will be content because He says:
“I know what plans I have in mind for you…plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
During my college years and right after I graduated, I yearned to find my perfect fit, my career, what I enjoyed that I could be happy with the rest of my life. It was also part of the journey to find which type of order I was called to. Teaching? Youth ministry? Mission work? I liked it all. What would give me peace? I wanted something that would combine all of my loves, which didn’t seem possible. I had many seemingly disconnected passions.
I like to sing, play board games, share my faith, and live in a big family. I loved learning instruments and always wondered the bigger purpose behind my taking piano. Why did I take 11 years of lessons? Why did I play soccer for 13 years? Why had I always loved craft projects? What about psychology tests to come to know myself better? Why, since I can remember, did I want to be a teacher and an author? I love travel, learning new things, and wanted to teach English to people of other cultures. I wanted to create retreats for others to come to know Jesus personally and share my vocation story with teens. I wanted to answer people’s questions about the faith. I wanted to go to Mexico and the Holy Land. I loved to hold babies and play with kids of all ages. I wanted to have a house with a chapel and a library. It may sound like I am needy, but really we all have desires.
I didn’t think I’d be called to the cloister but when I went on a teaching community’s discernment retreat, I knew I needed perpetual adoration. What better place than when He is physically present in front of you in Eucharistic adoration? I can walk into our chapel at any time and He is there. To be adored. To love. He is adoring us at every moment of every day, there waiting and thirsting for you, for your love. Why don’t we accept the invitation?
He continues to answer all my desires. The little and the big. My desire for silence and contemplation – speaks for itself. My piano playing and love of learning new instruments – my sisters are in need of an organ player. My love of teaching English to foreign speakers and love of different cultures – some of my new sisters are from other countries. My love of crafts – our community raised money by creating and selling crafts. My desire to just be in His presence – I am spoiled with a community with perpetual Eucharistic adoration.
I just returned from a walk outside. I am a little kid in a candy shop in the snow. Living in California, we’re only two hours from the snow but I never even saw it until high school. This “Cali girl” went to school in Ohio and people thought she was crazy because she would not have enough layers on. I don’t get cold easily. Call me crazy, but I prefer the snow to the heat. It also is simply beautiful. No, breathtaking is a better word. How it sits on the trees, when it is falling, everything. Maybe this giddiness will go away but having snow absent from my life for this many years makes it a treasure. One of our volunteers said “Give it 5 years. You’ll be over it. Wait until you drive in it.” Well, this may be so but right now I’m going to soak in its majestic quality.
I went over to our pond this is frozen over and crunched up some snow balls (see I don’t even know the verb. Typical Californian ha-ha). I proceeded to throw the snowballs at the pond to crack the ice. I would assume this is something a 7 year old kid would do in Winter, but hey- I missed out on that part of childhood. Let’s start now! Even the little things like the snow seem a perfect fit for me. Why Michigan, God? Why this monastery? Only God will reveal that but the whole weather thing really seems an answer to my prayers.
The weather is only a tiny desire that often goes unnoticed. If God takes care of these little desires, how much more will he take care of in my big worries and fears? As Jesus says in Matthew 6:26-27:
“Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”
He gave me a desire for cold and beauty and that allows him to lavish his love upon me when he fulfills my desires. Thank you, Jesus, for the little joys and showing that you love me.
I didn’t know this was where I would belong. I had years of turmoil in not knowing where I belonged. I speak now from a place I can call home. God grants our holy desires that come from Him. We just need to take the time of silence to reflect on what we want and let God guide the way. Hang in there, child. The end is in sight. Pray and trust. Pray and trust. My prayers are with you.
© Jamie Leatherby 2018
Main photo: The snowy view from within the walls of the cloister, Sr. Jamie’s backyard
Inserted photo: Sr. Jamie’s siblings John Paul and Jianna making their first snowman outside her monastery when they came for her entrance ceremony.
Editor’s Note: I apologize for the delayed publishing. This is the last of the blogs that Sister Jamie wrote before Lent. We pray that she will be able blog again soon.