Here’s my predicament. For the past three years I’ve been discerning a vocation to religious life. I’ve visited several communities, and I’ve narrowed it down to two places. These past years have been especially excruciating and exhilarating. I was fairly certain God called me to seek serving him with a group of religious sisters and never had any doubt about His will until recently when I met a boy. This person and I have grown very close and I think of him as my boyfriend. He is my best friend and we spend all our free time together. He came with me to my grandfather’s funeral last year and met my family. While he was there I just felt an overwhelming urge that this person was the one I was supposed to be with forever. Now I feel like I am forced to choose between God and my boyfriend.
I’m going on a retreat soon to spend an extended amount at one of the communities and I know I’ll miss communicating with my boyfriend but I am also really looking forward to getting away and getting some clarity on the whole situation. Everyone is being very supportive and I don’t feel pressured toward one thing or another; mostly I think I’m stressing myself out over this. I just want to make the right choice. What advice can you give me to help work this out?
What if I said both choices could be the right one? If your ultimate goal is attain heaven (as should be everyone’s), then either role can still get you there.
Some notable married saints include St. Catherine of Sweden and her mother St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, and Saints Felicity and Perpetua.
Need more married saints? How about saints married to other saints! St. Joachim and St. Ann, recently canonized Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin (parents of St. Thérèse), and King St. Henry II and his wife Queen St. Cunegunda.
[Editor’s Note: Read more – Trusting God When I Think “I Should Have Been a Nun”]
This isn’t an either or situation. You can still faithfully serve and love God as a nun or as a wife and mother. Don’t think of this as you having to choose who you desire more, God or your boyfriend, because that’s not the right question to be asking yourself. Without a doubt, desiring God above all else can be lived out on either path you choose. You need to be asking yourself instead, which path is most likely going to get me to heaven? The obvious answer may seem “a nun of course!” But I’ve just showed you that you can be married with a family and still be a saint.
Is your boyfriend the type of man who can help you attain this goal? Does he share your goal of heaven for himself? God wants you on the path that leads to Him. Which path will give you most peace? Which path has been more clearly laid out for you?
Let me also ask you, you referred to your upcoming retreat as “getting away” — is it possible you are hiding behind the habit? I mean, are you using the religious life as a chance to escape from your problems instead of facing them head on? Just something to consider.
Your vocation director, no doubt, has dealt with situations similar to yours many many times as I am sure the head of the community you are going to stay with has. Talk openly with them and continue to pray. But please be at peace knowing you are ultimately choosing God; you are just trying to decide which path you want to take to get to Him.
Usually when people write me they already know what they want to do; they are just looking for affirmation that they are making the right choice. Any choice that is going to lead you to better serve the Lord is always going to be the right choice.
Your email is a reminder to all reading this that we should include in our daily prayers all those people struggling to find their way and discern their vocations.
Casey, I wish you all the best.
[Editor’s Note: Take the Poll – Would you be a priest/nun if marriage was allowed?]