The day I left the convent, I thought, was the most difficult day of my life. I had to leave behind a life I patiently waited for and desired to live for such a long time. Yet, what proved to be even more of a challenge for me were the days that lay ahead. I was in the convent for only a short period of time; despite that, I had to transition back to life in the world. I had to venture into the world of secular college classes. I had to learn how to deal with the questions, comments and judgments of others who had no idea why I had to leave and who, of course, had no clue about the extreme interior struggles and doubts I was going through.
It has now been over seven years since I left the convent. The life experiences, growth and maturity, and self-knowledge that I have gained throughout these past seven, almost eight, years are invaluable. I can look back with a grateful heart and see the many ways the Lord has worked in my life: the relationships I was/am able to form, the education I was/am able to gain, the ministries I was/am able serve in. The busyness of my life, however, often conceals that deep ache in my heart. It is that deep-seated longing I still have for religious life, a longing which many of my friends who have left religious life have also expressed to me.
Not long ago I found myself, for probably the one millionth time, asking God, “Why?” I was weeping at the empty tomb, like Mary Magdalene, wondering where my Lord had gone. Overwhelmed with tears, I stood looking out the
window of my high rise apartment through miles and miles of the city and surrounding suburbs, crying out and wondering where He was. And then suddenly I knew that He was not somewhere out there but rather was standing next to me, like He has been these past seven, eight years. Just as He called me by name over seven years ago to leave the world behind and enter the convent, so He called me by name when it was time to leave, and even now, He continues to call me by name for what is to come.
Even through the sadness and tears, there is hope: hope for the future and what lies ahead. My time in the convent was a time of great grace and blessing and even though I am no longer there, in each and every day, in each and every task, there is purpose and grace and His love. Whether God will call me back to a convent in the future or will leave me in the world, I am comforted in the knowledge that He never abandons us but calls us by name.
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the LORD.”Jer. 29:11-14a