It wasn’t until I received a response did I realize how much I did not want one. I was at adoration last Wednesday. I can’t remember if I was particularly thinking about vocations, but I don’t think I was. Still, a word suddenly and clearly flashed into my head. It didn’t come from me, so I acknowledged this word as a message, a direction from the Holy Spirit: motherhood.
It seemed like such a clean-cut answer, but I wasn’t willing. I sought to complicate it. Motherhood doesn’t necessitate marriage, I told myself. Women mother in many ways and many roles, even within religious orders. This could be a hint but not a solution. Motherhood doesn’t mean marriage; it doesn’t have to mean anything at all. Right? (And “go to Nineveh” doesn’t mean to go to Nineveh.)
Then I wondered why I was so resolved to accept this as a non-answer to what I had been praying for. After all, I’d prefer marriage. I want a husband and house and family. I see pros and cons in each vocation, but as a product of my culture, I’ve accepted marriage as both normal and romantic. So why would I reject a message that seems to point toward that? It took me another day to realize why; having an answer means taking action. Open discernment is safe. All the possibilities are still there, and I’m not required to do anything except be open to a calling. But once a calling comes, I have to respond. I liked the doing nothing part.
And exactly how do I respond to that? How do I find a partner and build a home? A vocation of marriage is extremely dependent on me finding a man, and as someone who has learned to be alright single, I’m not keen on actively searching for dates. That feels like my happiness depends on others.
I felt like I’d been given a task with no tools. I got a bit cross with God. I tried to dismiss the message (motherhood ≠ marriage). I got upset that I’d been given a half answer (what but not how). But ultimately, I gave in. It truly felt like surrender, defeat. On Friday, again at adoration, I submitted. If I am called to marriage, so be it. It will appear to others as the default option. They will not see my openness to other callings. They will not see my admiration of quiet religious life. I will look like all those that don’t discern and just follow the cultural norm. But it doesn’t matter what others see. What matters is discerning my vocation, and to continue discerning until it’s time to make a commitment via vows. That means continuing with the praying and adoration and throwing tantrums (though obviously try to reduce that) and submitting.