I was a sophomore in college, haunted by a persistent idea. Could I be called to religious life? This thought had persisted since I was eleven years old, but the urgency was new. At January’s March for Life, I met some amazing religious sisters. Before I knew it, I was finishing my sophomore year, bidding farewell to my close-knit community of friends and professors. I entered that order the following August. Leaving family and friends to enter religious life was the hardest thing I had done. Through the tears, I was still able to see Christ bidding me to come to Him, to walk upon the waters. During the months that followed, I was able to truly put out into the deep and bask in the light of His love. Through this, I experienced the relationship that is possible through prayer and silence.
A year and a half later, I was again invited to leave the boat. I had loved my time in the convent, but the summons came to go home to my family and, from there, to discern the possibility of cloistered life. I left my habit, my community, and my religious life behind to follow the call. Readjusting to life “in the world” was particularly challenging. There were many moments of sinking into the waters, but through it I learned that, although I felt like I had lost so much, my only security was in the person of Christ. I learned that I needed to rely on Him even more than before, and to trust Him as I navigated these waters.
Seven cloister visits later, my world shifted again. I was on my third visit to a cloister, and during this visit was seriously discussing the application and potential entrance dates with the mother superior. And then the call came again. This time, He was inviting me to step out onto the waters of lay life and to be open to the vocation of married life. This change was completely unexpected. However, a deep peace was present, just as it had been the previous two times. Within a short time after this visit, I had a car, an apartment, and a full-time job.
Now, several years later, as I look back on these three events, I notice how much I have grown through them. My “fiat” cannot just apply to one event. If I say yes to whatever God wants in my life, then I must be open to all of the very different, crazy things that He can ask of me. My time with the active order taught me about the powerful and relentless way that Christ loves each one of us. As I left the convent, I learned that He, and He alone, is my rock in this world. And as I look back on the cloister that I almost joined, I can only laugh. I laugh at God’s surprising way of guiding my life and turning it upside down time and time again. I laugh at the way He somehow has access to my heart to guide it so well. I marvel at the way He always, always guides me with a sense of peace. And the next time I am called to step out of the boat to follow Him, I will probably laugh at the idea. Indeed, God has given me laughter.