I’ve often wondered what it means to be “called.” How does one hear God’s call or know that it is God who calls them? Is God’s call audible and clear? Is a call a thunderous event? Is a call real if it is filled with restlessness and confusion? Does one experience fireworks and a feeling of fulfillment upon accepting a calling? Is a call similar to answering a message? So many questions, and yet, the answers are unique to each person.
In my own life, I’ve experienced several callings. One calling came in my mid-20s when I felt called to explore the religious life. For two years, I traveled to several religious communities before feeling called to one particular community in Colorado. I journeyed on site and from afar with the Vocation Director there for several years before discerning that I was called to married life. This calling was not only to marriage but also to an immediate family that included two teenagers. Other callings have included caring for hospice patients, becoming a Dominican Associate, and working in different professional fields as a technical writer and librarian.
All of these callings were unfolding experiences that stretched me, at times, beyond what seemed like my limits. Many of these callings were fraught with doubt, resistance, and many questions. I had to muddle through these calls, wrestling with my own inner angst and wishes, to hear God calling ever so gently and steadfastly. Ultimately, my response to the callings in my life happened in a moment of faith, trusting that God was with me in my life’s journey.
Looking back, I see God called me to minister to others by listening and by being open to new experiences that I may not have chosen if left solely to my own ways. These experiences transformed me and broadened my perspective of how God works in our lives. My transformation came from the ordinary stuff of life, from the good times and the rough times. These experiences affirmed my trust in God.
How have you heard God calling you? What experiences in your life reveal God’s footprint and presence? How have you responded to the callings in your life? Who are the people to whom you have been called to minister? What gifts have you been called to share?
How does one discern a call to any vocation? Merriam-Webster defines a “calling” as: “…a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.” All of us are called. We are called to become our true selves and to live with purpose. This purpose may be simple and practical, or, it may be complex and extraordinary, calling forth all that we have to give. Whatever the call and however it is heard, we can be assured, as Frederick Buechner notes, “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
If you feel God might be calling you to consider religious life, why not contact one of our Vocation Ministers? (Click here)