By Liz Miller.
“Sometimes the only way the Good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”
– Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen
It’s been almost 1 1/2 years since I wrote “A Hairy Story,” and yet it feels like eons ago. Firstly, I’ll just say that, as women who have entered and left religious life, it is healthy to take time to look at how we’ve grown since “That Day”. After all, who wants to live “the unexamined life?”
As a young, Catholic woman having left the world, entered the convent and then re-entered the world, my life has gone through such a beautiful string of phases, it’s hard not to recognize God’s hand in it all:
Peace… Confusion… Struggle… ReAbandonment… Discernment
Because I could write a book [and perhaps someday I will… bucket-list maybe?], I’ll try to limit myself to short snippets of insights I’ve gathered throughout my experience thus far.
Peace: If ever I am distraught about or question my current situation, I must never forget that strong sense of peace I received from leaving the convent and knowing it was God’s will for me. This peace stayed with me for a maximum of 5 days after leaving the convent. All of a sudden, I felt…
Confusion: During the month between leaving the convent and going to college, the questions that ran through my head are very legitimate. Why would God do this to me? I love Him with all of my being, but how am I supposed to reconcile this feeling of having my heart broken? Who am I? Where do I belong in this world? Confusion then led to the hardest…
Struggle: Immediately upon attending University, I experienced a relapse of self-consciousness that I hadn’t felt since high school. At this point, I know I am supposed to attend and graduate college. But I ache to figured out who I am in the world: am I the crazy Catholic girl who wears long skirts and does all the Catholic things on campus? Or am I hiding behind the skirts because I want to make my femininity absolutely clear due to my short hair? The answer was the latter, which played a large role with my insecurities. Praise God that I didn’t have it in me to take the downward path to despair but instead walked tip-toe on the road to…
ReAbandonment: Once I recognized how much I still needed Christ, I found comfort only in His presence. With the help of the chaplain on campus, and my now-best friend who – Providentially – had left the same convent and attended the same University, with the help of the Mother Superior of a Community that is close in location and heart, and Leonie’s Longing, I learned that my life’s not over. In fact, Life Himself has taught me the truth and beauty about my vocation. This was the stepping stone for my…
Discernment: My second semester of college found me at a conference organized by the diocese where my university is. There was a religious community that I was intrigued by, which surprised me because I had distaste for all things religious life prior. Curiosity led to interest which led to a conversation by phone with the vocations assistant. To my surprise, she didn’t want to talk about my having left the convent. For half an hour, we talked about my prayer life. This is the second most life changing event, but probably the first and foremost best change that has happened. Through her direction, I have re-discovered my relationship with Christ because I made time for Him in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I’ve learned how to pray with Scripture and with Christ.
During one of our monthly phone calls, I mentioned to her that I was struggling with worries about my vocation. Am I called to marriage or to the religious life??
Her answer: “That’s not for you to worry about right now… Your vocation is to love Jesus Christ.”
So I’ve found that this is the best and most exciting vocation there is. That being said, there are moments when I wish I could just snag a guy, run away, and get married. There are moments when my heart leaps for joy at the sight of a religious sister. And of course, there are moments when I want to quit school because the road seems too long, the light at the end of the tunnel too far to see.
But then I think of how much the Lord can do with the little I give Him.
Take heart, sisters in Christ! And “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15); even if that “anyone” is the doubt inside you. We gave up everything to follow Him once… He’ll give us strength to do it time and time again. Let us not forget that a life worth living is a life worth giving – a daily laying down of our own wills in exchange for His; a daily re-version of heart, mind, body and soul.
Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will.
Reunited with siblings after leaving the convent.
Enjoying abundant blessings of studying abroad in the Eternal City!
*If you check out this video, Ruth Bachman explains well the story of the book after which this post is titled.
Thank you so much for sharing this and for your beautiful words. There were a couple of points that spoke right to my heart. Leaving the convent isn’t easy and there are a lot of emotions to sift through. It feels good to know I am not alone in this. Thank you again and thanks in advance for your prayers. My prayers are with you. God bless you.
“That’s not for you to worry about right now… Your vocation is to love Jesus Christ,” brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your insight and the reason for your hope.
P.S. If you write a book, I will buy it!
Thank you for sharing this beautiful “story” of God’s love and mercy, and the reality of living through it – which isn’t always so happy-party-balloons-and-clowns. But then comes the deeper joy…Praise God, Alleluia!