By Cora Cantata.
If you have, in any way, ever felt rejected, dumped or abandoned by Christ, especially by being asked to walk away from religious life, either by your Superior or by God in your personal discernment, I am writing this blog for you.
He was the One whom you trusted to love you unconditionally, with whom you could be completely vulnerable without ever being told that you are not good enough, was He not? And yet, here you are, confused, alone and broken. I too, have encountered and wrestled with this emotion and brokenness since I left the convent over two years ago. However, after I humbly offered up my woundedness many times, confessing that I felt rejected and even accusing the Lord of abandoning me, He finally got through to me. As I listened, He spoke clearly to my heart a message that has given me great peace and consolation. I now feel convicted to console you and tell you that I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).
I have always felt that my experience of living and leaving religious life was much like Peter experiencing the Transfiguration and saying to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents.” I will stay here, make this my home and my life, here where the presence of your Divinity is so evident and intimate. Likewise the Father responded, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” But Jesus came and touched (me), saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid,” (Matt. 17). Then I was lead down from the mountain and back into the world filled with people who have never experienced this Epiphany, and can not understand the ache of losing that vision, that glimpse into the Divine. However, Christ’s mission could not have finished had they had not left. Furthermore, Jesus did not stay on the mountain while banishing Peter, James and John, but went into the world with them to complete the good work that He began.
As it turned out the Bible verses that spoke to my heart and convicted me to enter religious life had a tendency to add insult to injury after I had left. I feel that it is easy to fall into the temptation of believing that we no longer have a calling. If God really called me to enter the convent, He has since un-called me, changed His mind and “hung up,” so to speak. There is no longer a plan for me. My plot in life is now to float out here in this abyss of unconsecrated singleness. But wait, God says, “For I, the LORD, do not change, and you, sons of Jacob, do not cease to be” (Mal 3:6); “But the plan of the LORD stands forever, the designs of his heart through all generations” (Ps 33:11). This must mean that God never changed His mind or His plan. From all eternity He knew every step we would take. Everything is Divine Providence and we have to trust that it is for our greater good because God is all Good and Holy.
Sometimes He just waits until we settle and believe that we’ve found our place and purpose to take us by the hand and say, “Talitha koum; Little girl, I say to you, arise!” (Mark 5:41). I will allure (you) now; I will lead (you) into the wilderness (Hosea 2:16). Where is the wilderness more wild, more lonely, more bare than in the world where Christ and his followers often go either unnoticed or hated and rejected? However, Jesus encourages us, saying, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you; plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and 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 I will let you find me (Jer 29). Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine, because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you. Fear not, for I am with you. All who are called by my name I created for my glory; I formed them, made them: You are my servant whom I have chosen to know and believe in me and understand that I am he. See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Is 43).
See, I am doing something new! He is not un-calling us but calling us to something new, something greater. Religious life may be a higher calling but it is a calling that we cannot call ourselves to. We will only be fulfilled when we submit to our calling. What does it matter if your soul is like a thimble or a cup, so long as it is full? No matter what state in life, career, suffering or joy you are experiencing trust that His love, will, and heart remain the same. Every single day He is present and waiting in the Eucharist, calling, “Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come.How beautiful is your love. For you have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride; you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes and I thirst, for you,” (ref. Songs &. John 19:28). My sisters, we experienced the Epiphany for a reason and it was meant to transfigure us. We are called to go into the world and reflect the radiance, the joy and the light of a God who’s love is Divine, unconditional and never changing.
Great post, that is how I feel. Except I feel abandoned still. I gave up everything to follow Christ into the desert and then he even took the desert away from me.
Ryan, I imagine that Christ felt something similar on the cross. He left heaven for earth and even that was taken away from Him in a brutal and humiliating manner. I have to trust that in the meantime He’s preparing us for paradise. He loves you Ryan, intimately and personally. Like a good Father, He knows how to give good gifts, whether we know how to recognize them or not.
Having recently left religious life, for the second time, I have struggled immensely. I discerned the Lord was calling me to leave and open my heart to marriage. Yet, as soon as I stepped back into the world, without my habit and name, I felt a barrenness inside of me. “Beloved, where have you gone?” my heart cried. For months this desert has become more and more desolate. I have sought solace in Hosea 2:16. While reading this blog entry, this evening, I heard His voice. Thank you, my sister.
Oh, am I ever glad to have stumbled across this page! I only knew of one other who was called and the rejected from a convent. I still claim them as mine and miss them immensely, even when I was only accepted and never allowed to enter. I wish the other case I know of was going better, but I am glad to know I’m not alone in this. Not at all. We’re kind of all living the story of St. Frances of Rome. “Are you crying because you want to do God’s will or because you want God to do your will?” Her spiritual director asked her this when her father was telling her to marry; she had only ever wanted to enter a convent. I feel like she’s been by my side this whole time. She’s a VERY good friend.