Yes, I said! Lord, I want to be your spouse!
I came across an exercise for discerners which said to take 10 minutes and write as many reasons as you could for saying YES. I came up with the following - some of them greater in significance than others, but nevertheless, significant.
Here's what I came up with:
(I have slightly altered some of them to make more precise what I believe I meant at the time they were writtten)
1) Having turned away from God in the past, I now want to commit to Him
2) To make up for past sin
3) It feels right and when I contemplate Carmel, I have a deep sense of peace within
4) I’ve thought about it on and off for a long time, so think there is a strong possibility that this is what God wants of me
5) I am attracted to the life
6) In prayer, I have experienced the intense desire to give everything up to follow Jesus
7) I want to become more holy and work to save my soul
8) I want to live in the best way possible with Christ in me
9) When it comes to my faith, it feels like all or nothing
10) There are too many distractions in the world and I desire silence and contemplation
11) I love Him passionately
12) Everything seems to have been building up to this
13) My path is clear
14) I feel I’m suited to the life - I am a natural contemplative
15) I want to surrender to Him completely
16) I will be accepted for me; be able to be myself
17) It is a chance to live with like-minded people
18) I can learn and grow spiritually
After this, I noted down the areas of concern I have about going to Carmel. Of course, I have in fact made up my mind to go, so don't feel further discerning as such is possible at this point; there will be a chance for further discernment in the Novitiate. However, I feel it's important to be honest with myself about what fears I have in regards to Carmel and through facing them, I may be able to resolve them and better deal with them when I enter.
Here were those fears:
My family are against it and don’t think I’ll persevere
Only God and I know what I have experienced spiritually. Earthly parents aren't always right, yet God Our Father knows what is best for me. It is He Who I believe placed this desire within me, so He will help me to persevere should this be what He asks of me.
I will be giving up my family
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." (Mt 19:29)
They will still be my family, despite the distance and they will receive a hundredfold, too.
It may not work out and I could end up with nothing
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Mt 6:30)
I might get bored with the life
A heart that turns [from God] becomes bored with its own ways, but a good person is satisfied with God's ways. (Prov 14:14)
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Heb 12:7)
You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (Mt 10:22)
I wanted children
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)
I then came across this quote:
“If you are what you are meant to be, you will set the whole world on fire.”~
St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, Dominican Mystic (1347-1380)~
And on a Dominican website about confirming your vocation, I discovered this helpful paragraph:
Confirmation; experience peace with your decision. Seek confirmation by offering the decision to God asking for peace and inner joy. Look for confirmation from both external and internal sources. External sources may include sensing affirmation from people, circumstances seem to be supportive, etc. Internal confirmation usually includes a deep sense of peace, a real felt compatibility with the choice made, a sense of satisfaction, a time of tranquility sets in, etc. Although there may be some negative responses these do not change your deep convictions about the decision.
Oh Lord, I thank You. I did not have to ask You for inner peace and joy; in Your generosity, You gave it to me early on in my discernment. Lord, You have also made my way clear; there is no reason for me to stay away from You a moment longer! You have offered me a life in Carmel, to draw me nearer to You, and I accept, O Lord. I will hide myself away with You; seek only You. Let me hold Your Divine Hand and do not let go of me. May I persevere always for Your Sake.
Amen.Whilst this exercise started for my own purpose, having had a challenging day at home and facing doubts from others, I realised that this could actually help someone else who is discerning. I hope it does, as it's not easy.
Thanks be to God for the strength He has given me from the Holy Spirit, which makes me persevere!
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17)