Do you feel stressed out and anxious that you’ll “miss” your vocation? Do you get upset with God when you try to do everything right but still don’t receive a definitive answer about what He wants you to do? Are you concerned that you will make the wrong life choices? Have no fear. Read on….
Let’s start by examining the definition of vocation.
A vocation is a calling from God. It is a path that you choose, with God’s help, as your vehicle to Heaven. It is the path for which you are most ideally suited. The Catechism defines vocation as “the calling or destiny we have in this life and hereafter. God has created the human person to love and serve Him; the fulfillment of this vocation is eternal happiness. (emphasis added) The vocation of the laity consists in seeking the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will.”
Any thing that we do must be ordered toward loving the heart of Christ. There is no point in sacrificing your life (and that is what we are called to do when we enter our vocation) for anything. The only reason to give your life is for someone with whom you are in love. Our vocations, whatever form they take, are fundamentally the gift of our lives for the one whom we most love.
Every action we carry out should be ordered towards a deeper relationship with God. If we start to equate our vocation, the vehicle, with actual fulfillment itself, we begin to make an idol of our vocation.
You wouldn’t marry a guy just for his money, right? I hope not! We know deep down that marrying for what you can get from someone would be wrong. Yet do we prioritize finding our vocation over an actual relationship with God? Do you want what God can give you, or God himself? After all, Heaven is beholding God face to face with nothing between.
Here’s the reassuring part: you don’t have to wait for your vocation to start in order to have that most fulfilling, deep relationship. Your real life doesn’t start when your vocation does. Whatever weird middle ground you are wandering in now, that relationship is still available to you.
In my own life I often used to labor under the illusion that God would only be pleased with me if I “got it right.” If I could marry the exact right person, enter the exact right religious order, etc., then my salvation was practically guaranteed. Hence much of the stress and anxiety that surrounds making decisions. And that is not God’s will for us. Conscientious deliberation, seeking counsel, and dedicated prayer are necessary; however, God does not will that we agonize over decisions or that we choose the one perfect thing right away. The most important part is to intend to do God’s will, and after careful consideration, to begin to act. The desire to do good insofar as our power to know at that moment, is enough for God. When my 2 and 1-year-old children try to bring me my coffee but spill it along the way, I easily overlook the spill because I see that their intention was to do something good for me. The same is true with our Heavenly Father.
A final point on this- and this is important for those who hold on to the belief that vocation is not just the path, but fulfillment itself- I can see things from a different side as a married person than when I was single. My husband and children cannot and should not fulfill me. That is not their job. (Don’t get me wrong; I love them and I would not trade them for anything in the world!) They are my path toward sanctity not because they please me all of the time, but because I serve them for love of God.
Stacey Sumereau’s unique journey spans from singing to acting in the Broadway National Tours of Beauty and the Beast and The Wizard of Oz, to discerning religious life on Reality TV (The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns), to the vocation of marriage and motherhood. Her mission is to help young people find God’s plan for their vocations and other life choices. Stacey’s unique presentations include singing, humorous storytelling, leading worship music, and even fire-eating! Stacey has spoken at the National Catholic Youth Conference and the LA Religious Education Congress, as well as dioceses across the country. She hosts the Called and Caffeinated Podcast and Blog and leads mission trips for the Carmelite Sisters. For more information visit: www.staceysumereau.com