Almost exactly four years ago I was just starting my seminary journey. On the 9th of January 2010, my mother brought me to the seminary on my "first day of priest-school". Thus began a year of discernment, wrestling with God and myself, separating apart what I had thought was my vocation and what was slowly developing as God's actual call on my life. Discernment got complicated.
|With my mum on the first day at Holy Spirit Seminary.|
That last sentence is pretty revealing of what was going on in me as I discerned: it had become all about me. My prayers, my questioning and my discernment were focused on the "I", on my calling. It's easy to focus the discernment journey on ourselves; at which point we need to make a necessary shift and remind ourselves: it's not my call, it's God's call. Now, given that we have free will and we have to choose that call; what I'm saying is that vocation isn't ever just about you. The vocation question is (or at least should be): how am I called to serve God and the Church?
Taking the focus off yourself removes the influence of feelings, fears, insecurities and expectations. With the focus on God and on the people of God we can find added motivation to make those "big decisions" about our vocation.
In my own life, the decision to serve within the Vocations Centre was a really an easy one to make; because I was able to see how my experiences could serve as gift and inspiration to others seeking their own vocation. It's funny, because I was able to find personal fulfillment not in seeking it for myself, but in seeking to serve God and the Church.
So, my advice? Discerning a vocation is easy IF your discernment is focused on God and the people of God. With God and the Church at the heart of your discernment, all that's left to do is make a decision and pray about it. It sounds simplistic, but that's because it doesn't have to be so complicated. Trust in God, be honest in prayer and be integral in your decisions and you will find your calling.