What am I meant to do with my life?
If you are looking at this website you are probably asking yourself this question. This is what we call a discernment question. It is an attempt to understand my own purpose in life. Every one of us is a gift. We are each blessed with a mission, a purpose in life whether we know it or not. And we each struggle to come to understand and respond to this purpose. We hope these pages might help you better understand your own unique purpose.
How do I respond?
A good place to begin is to stop, take a breath, step back, be still, and listen. Just see what thoughts, images, and ideas emerge. Listen carefully to your inner self and then listen equally to the world around you. Listen to friends, family, even those casual unexpected people who cross your path. Anyone one of these without knowing it may very well hold part of the answer you seek. Listen and notice whether there is a confirmation of what you are experiencing alone and in stillness. Try to notice how God is speaking to you in stillness and in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life around you.
Wait, listen, be open to what starts to emerge. What emerges may be a call to something new. This call maybe to a change of lifestyle, or a change of attitude about some issue such as child poverty, injustice. Or the call may be to stop doing something that is destructive to your own well-being and instead embrace more wholesome behaviours. It may even be a call to serve God in some very specific way. Perhaps, the call is to serve God as a religious or as a priest or even as a Missionary of the Sacred Heart. This call gifts you with a passion for change and one of the difficulties with such a call is that not everyone you know may like it. We don’t always like change and some of your friends or even family members may get scared or confused at the changes you feel called to make. It’s important that you have support. If you sense that you are experiencing a call from God then it’s important that you talk with someone you can trust who will understand what you are going through. Maybe your local parish priest, a spiritual director (if you can find one), or a member of a religious community. They will be able to help you to discern; a word that means both understand and respond to what God is calling you to.
Personal time alone with God is an essential part of any discernment process. God is the author of our talents and gifts and to understand how and where God desires us to use these requires making time to listen carefully to God and to our own heart. The answer may not come clearly or all at once we may like Samuel in the Old Testament have to wait patiently before we can tune into the voice of God. Indeed, like Samuel, we may need help to distinguish between the voice of my ego, the voice of others, and the true and gentle voice of God. This is where we may be able to help. As a vocations team, we are experienced in supporting people as they come to understand their true calling in life. Indeed, as a religious order, we are blessed to have a number of members with the skills and training to accompany people discerning their call. We can’t give you the right answer to your questions. In fact, if anyone tells you they have all the answers you need, we suggest you run! Give such people a wide berth.
No! We don’t know the answer to your question but we could help you listen more closely to your own heart and maybe help you notice the path that God is unfolding before you. The path that God is inviting you to walk.
Finally, sometimes we worry that what God wants from us will not make us happy that if God wants it then it’s definitely going to make us miserable. Sadly, we sometimes meet people who have given their lives to God seem to confirm this viewpoint. Nothing could be further from the truth. What God asks may be difficult, it certainly will stretch you and your assumptions about yourself and others may be radically transformed. However, in the end, what God asks of us is always asked out of love. It may not bring peace whatever that means but it will fulfil the deep hunger we all feel inside when we dare to look into the deep place within. We are God’s beloved children. God knows who we can be if we dare to try. God knows our potential and so God’s call will always enhance our life, never diminish it.