Discovering Your Vocation

It’s interesting how you can think you want something, only to find out it’s not what you really wanted.

I love teaching about vocations in class.  Not only because, it’s something the students are interested in, but also because I think contemplating vocations early is a healthy practice.

How many of us take years to figure out what we are supposed to do with our lives? How many of us try to figure it out on our own, without consulting God? We go from job to job or boyfriend to boyfriend trying to figure out what makes us happy.  All the time not slowing down long enough to really hear God’s voice.  To stand still, long enough, to really listen, to really think about what we really desire.

You learn in religion class about the different kinds of vocations one could be called into, and learn in Career and Personal Planning what kinds of careers  one could have. I was no different than many young people trying to figure out what I was supposed to be.  I was also terrified that God would call me to something that I really did not want to be.

I had always wanted to have an exciting career.  If you go back to my grade 7 yearbook it says marine biologist or private investigator.  My grade 4 teacher said I would make a good teacher, and I told him that would never happen, too boring.  It’s interesting the way that God works.

I started feeling drawn to the vocation of marriage in my senior year of high school, and although I was far from being ready to marry (obviously), I still felt myself making decisions that would put me in a good position to marry, if I ever did.  I started dating guys I thought I could marry, and the second I knew I wouldn’t marry them, I stopped the relationship. I began making lists of desirous qualities I wanted in a future mate and even read some relationship books. Then I started rethinking my choice of careers.  I realized that being a marine biologist or private investigator would probably not be the best choice, if I wanted a family one day.  Then the idea of teacher sprang to mind.  Suddenly everything started to click into place. Even though it was the idea of marriage that first drew me to teaching, I soon realized that I loved everything about teaching and how it encompassed all my passions into one profession.

Even though I was really starting to like the idea of being married and becoming a teacher, it took me a long long time to admit this to anyone.  I don’t know why I was afraid.  Maybe it was my pride, because I had always said being a teacher was the last thing I wanted to be.  I also didn’t share my desire to get married, probably because I was afraid that maybe it wouldn’t happen and I would look silly or people would say I was too young to be thinking about that etc.

In the end I am glad I was open to God’s calling, I’m glad I asked him for guidance, and am glad I trusted Him with my happiness. I’m glad that I really took time to contemplate life, to contemplate what God was calling me to be.  It is so easy in this day and age to not contemplate or discern our calling, because we have so much on the go.  We move from day to day doing, what we think we want to do, not realizing we’re not doing what we were meant to do, until we get to the point of being super unhappy.  Think about how much easier life would be, if we were just open to God from the beginning, and not so stubborn, as to try to figure it out on our own.

I think vocations is one of the most important topics we cover in religion class. It’s such an important part of our happiness, to know we have a purpose, to have that feeling of, “This is what I was born to do”. As a teen, initially, I wasn’t given much guidance about how to tell if God was calling you to a certain vocation.  I thought that it didn’t matter, about what I desired, and that God could call me to something I really did not want to be.  I eventually consulted my parents on the topic of vocations (one of the rare times I asked my parents for advice as a teen!).  My parents told me that God would never call me to be something that would make me unhappy or would cause me to resent God.  They also talked about how we can recognize our calling through our deepest desires.  Later when I became a teacher and studied vocations more, I learned how true my parents had been. Through discovering my own vocation, I realized that God’s call really is like a whisper in the wind (sorry to sound cliche!) and it should fill you with intense joy, not intense dread!

Now one of the biggest things I stress with my own students, when talking about vocations, is that God wants you to be happy.  He gives us our desires to help us discover what we are really meant to be.  Of course, sometimes it takes us a long time to really figure out what our deepest desires are.  It can be difficult to decipher between superficial things and what we really want. Of course there are outside influences as well,  like what your parents expect from you, or what others will say.  These are all obstacles to finding our real purpose, but they can be overcome if we just take the time in prayer, to consult with God, He made us and knows us best.

I also have to be careful of my own bias towards the vocation of marriage.  This I find difficult, because I love being married, I love talking about marriage.  I don’t want my students, who may not share my enthusiasm for marriage, to feel like a vocation they are drawn to, is somehow less than the one I was called to. So I try to be fair in regards to all vocations, but I think I will try this year to bring people, with different vocations, to share their stories.  I think that’s the only way I can do all the vocations justice.

I feel like there is so much more to talk about on this subject, and that I have just scratched the surface, but I dislike blogs that read like a novel! So maybe I will have to save it for another day 🙂

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2 Responses to Discovering Your Vocation

  1. I feel like a lot of points in this post jibed well for me. Finding my vocation is this fire burning inside that is catalyzed by a so-far lack of success! I’m blessed to be in a place where the culture of vocations is starting to strengthen quite a bit, but I feel like especially on the topic of singlehood, my own high school vocations classes didn’t quite hit the mark.

    There’s always discussion of married/family life and the priesthood in such classes. That’s great, and there’s a lot to learn and reflect on about these vocations. But being single, it seems, is always framed as this transitory state to reach one of those vocations. I’ve even heard a priest basically state that people who are perpetually single are called to a vocation that is never able to be actualized. I know they don’t mean it that way, but it’s hard to hear such things and not have the thought “I’m some sort of screw-up” lingering on the back of the mind. Teachers are quick to point out that single people have a role in the Church (irony being that it’s usually a married or dating person telling you this), but don’t seem to dwell too long on *what* that role is. I’m almost out of college now, and as beautiful as it sounds to have this unity and selfless giving toward spouse, I have not dated a soul, and I still don’t feel like I have any way of gauging if it truly is my vocation or just a feeling. Between all of these things, I’ve never quite been able to shake that “now what?” feeling toward seeking my vocation.

    What your parents said reminds me of something my priest once told me: following God’s will isn’t a matter of you have one agenda, he has another, and you just drop what you want to do to do what He wants you to do; instead, you and God will be in agreement that this calling is the right one for you.

    I pray the Spirit guides you well in your class. Would love to read more on another day 🙂
    – Chase


  2. Hi Chase,
    Thanks for your comments! I’ve been reading a lot on vocations lately and it’s interesting to see how perceptions have changed over the years. For example I know of people prior to Vatican II who would do assignments in class on vocations. Draw a married couple and underneath write “Good” and next to it draw a picture of a priest and nun and write “Better” below it. Nowadays I think we value the married vocations just as much (or should) as the religious vocations. Single, I agree when I went to school was never really mentioned or it was considered that vocation “in limbo” where you were still trying to discern where you were supposed to be.

    I think that for sure people are called differently and the call to be single is just as valid as any other. In class we talk about the benefits of being single vs the others. For example I have an aunt that remained single all her life and took care of my grandparents until they died. Out of all the other vocations I saw this one as the hardest since she had to sacrifice so much! Yet, what a blessing for my grandparents! She often commented that nuns have more fun than she does, and I think she was right!

    Keep praying and good luck on your own life journey!


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