God’s plan for us is infinitely greater than our own. If you are anything like me, at some point in your faith journey, your discernment has to be purified. Jesus will ask us point-blank, at some specific time: My daughter, are you living for you, or do you want to live for Me? He leaves us free; But we know that the choice we make will bring us closer to Him and to the fulfillment that can only be found in His Heart. Understandably, we are mostly driven by fears, insecurities, and anxieties when we are still young in our faith journey. We are all affected by original sin…which led us to have trust issues with God our Father. This enters into our discernment as well, anxiously questioning: What does God want of me? Will I miss His plan? What if I choose the wrong path? The thing we so often forget is that God is our true Father. God is a Father who wants us to know the path infinitely more than we want to know it. He is our Daddy who picks us up when we fall and hurt ourselves and holds us until we calm down and rest against His heartbeat.
One of my favorite quotes is by Henri Nouwen, and it totally changed my life at a time when I had to either surrender to God or embark upon a path other than religious life for my life because Jesus seemed to be asking “too much”. Here is the quote: “Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me.”
Surrender to our Father. Growing in that relationship with the Father is key. Before discernment even begins, we need to orient ourselves to a God who loves us unto death. So knowing the path isn’t the key. Trust and surrender to His perfect timing is. Speaking with girls who are discerning their vocations, I often find myself remembering so well what it felt like to be at that time of life: high school/ college-age, wondering what the next great step in life would be. ...Then came the waiting and waiting for what seemed like an eternity for God to reveal His path to me and for me to “actually get started” with my life. God must have smiled a lot upon me in love, gently telling me to “wait”. His perfect plan was coming! I just needed to live in the moment and hold on just a little bit longer. I often grumbled, wondering why He wasn’t telling me what I wanted to hear, namely that, “you have a vocation!” But it wasn’t an experience like a clear-cut voice that told me I was called to be a sister. It has been a journey all through formation here in the convent where I have been learning how to surrender to my Father in JOY, peace, serenity, healing, and hope. It has been a time where the “yes” I say when I renew my vows each year until final vows becomes freer and more authentic. This paradoxical journey is one that typically I wouldn’t have thought would bring me freedom, but it has and it continues to do so.
I smile because the advice I want to give to young people is exactly what I would NOT have wanted to hear at high school and college age. But life teaches us slowly. I love these young women so much because they are now my spiritual children. I want what God wants for them. They are precious is His eyes. And FIRST and foremost, God wants them to know that He loves them…as a Father who is not trying to hide His plans from them. …That they can trust Him. -Sr. Mary Elizabeth