People often ask me if discernment in religious life ever ends. My simple answer, is, “No, discernment about how I live my life, as a Dominican Sister, is an ongoing and daily practice.” Some days, it is an easy “Yes.” Other days, it’s not so clear. All of us undoubtedly have days when our decisions about life choices leave us with uncertainty, wondering if we are following the path God calls us to.
Take for example a day last week. I woke up, and said to myself, “I wonder if this will be the day–the day I decide that I no longer want to be a sister.” This unsettling feeling emerges when community living no longer appeals to me, or when I want more control over what I do, such as writing a check for myself, or when I desire more freedom about where I’m going. I struggle so to be a woman of peace. It can be so hard. What might be the tipping point in discerning the path to follow or not follow? Is this the day when I tell God, “Sorry, this life is not meant for me after all.”
As I contemplate these thoughts, I give an internal sigh and I recognize that my heart feels heavier. I reflect on the loss of being a ‘Sister’ and the connection and comfort that this title provides for some of the patients, families, and staff at the hospital where I minister. I name the many sisters who have been wisdom-women for me and greatly influenced my understanding of myself and of God. I smile as I think about the fun and funny experiences I’ve had in the community and with other sisters whom I care deeply about. I relish the freedom that comes from simplifying my life. I count the many blessings and challenges I’ve experienced in my 20+ years as a Dominican Sister, especially as a Dominican Sister of Peace. I’ve grown in ways I never expected.
Some days, living this life as a religious sister is an easy, “Yes,” and other days, it’s not so clear. Yet, as people of faith, uncertainty, and doubt are frequent companions for all of us. Yes, the God, who is faithful, loves us in our discernment and especially when we struggle.
“You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped” cries the prophet, Jeremiah. I feel like Jeremiah some days, crying out and asking, “Why, God, did you call me to a life I can’t possibly live?” The answer comes in this same verse from Jeremiah 20:4, where Jeremiah proclaims, “the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion!” Another sigh, and this time, I know that God is with me always and today will be the day I will affirm my vow again to live out my commitment to religious life–to these women, my sisters, and to God who will be with me this day and forever.
Clearly now, this is the life God meant for me, and today, I say “YES!” to this life as a religious sister that God has called me to.
If you are discerning whether God is calling you to live as a religious sister, we can help you with this discernment. Just contact us and we will walk with you to hear where you are being called.