Most women with vocations stories of any kind (whether for marriage or for religious life) have a sort of polarized interpretation of their story otherwise known as "What Led Me To Answer This Particular Call". Many times over I have heard both the, "I imagined what it would be like to be a sister even when I was a very little girl" or "I was NEVER EVER going to be a sister, I was convincing myself and everyone it was not for me, I was in a steady, beautiful relationship with a guy, etc."
It is not the same for marriage, not quite. But I guess that is partly because it is the "natural" vocation, the one our very existence, our very bodies, call us to. Still, I have heard the stories of "I TOTALLY didn't like him/her at first" or "We NEVER got along" or even "I NEVER thought God would send me my spouse". More resounding is the effort to make very clear that while in the vocation of one's choice, one has been obviously NOT called to the other. "I went on a vocations retreat and was DEFINITELY not at peace" "I just felt SO UNCOMFORTABLE when I was around sisters" etc.
I should make a disclaimer. We humans all tend to overgeneralize, and as women, we often over exaggerate. In storytelling, it is very easy. And as much as I have heard such phrases from women, I have often found that at some point, in nearly every vocation story, they all mellow out. They discover the beauty of their own vocation. They discover the beauty of the vocation they are not called to as well. It is only in acknowledging the goodness and beauty of every call that we can understand fully what sacrifice and gift are in the call we receive.
So. My vocation story. Rather mellow all through.
I was a cradle Catholic, a girl born, baptized, and raised Catholic. My parents did everything right by me, went to Mass on Sundays, attended CCD classes, even put me in Catholic school for a while. But things changed for our whole family when they decided to homeschool us kids.
I will not attempt to beat out of your heads whatever misconceptions or stereotypes are conjured up by that last revelation of my story. I will only allow myself this defense: that my homeschool education was the best I received, and while it lasted I learned more of my Faith and loved my Faith more, than I could suppose any other method of education to have given me with the same effects. And furthermore, every dear reader should make a little more open space in his or her mind for this very small fact: no two homeschooled families are alike. There, defense is done.
So, off I totted to college, age 18, ready to graduate in three years with a degree in English. And I did it as I planned. I dated a boy my first year, but discovered the long-distance relationship was not for us. That was the only time I think I really contemplated being married…or at least the only time I took the idea of me getting married very seriously. Girls at age eighteen who are in love are very serious about getting married. Nevertheless, I have been single ever since, but it is only the last three years that I have been "intentionally" single, that I have been deepening my relationship with the Lord more purposefully while I am not dating. And it is really only the last 11 months that I have been so intentional about my singleness, my discernment, that I would not even say "yes" to a man if he had asked me on a date. My mother will not like to read that last sentence.
I'm sorry this is very long. This must be my concluding paragraph. I must make myself be brief. I procured a spiritual director in January of this year. It has been going swell ever since, and I have been looking at my future as if I might be religious sister. It is the first time in my life that I ever contemplated the idea so seriously. Oh, I smiled like everyone did when watching Anne of Green Gables as a girl, watching her swoon over being a Bride of Christ when she had a sleepover with Diana. But I just never really thought one way or another about it. Until now. Until this year. And just a fortnight ago, when I went on my first Come and See retreat, when I went to a convent, and I saw how much I loved their life and their joy and I heard the voice of the Lord in the silence of the Blessed Sacrament say to my heart, "Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come."