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Vocation Limbo

May 17, 2011

Natalie Smith of Vocations Placement shares a possible answer to why you may be experiencing “vocation limbo.”

As a person in fulltime vocation ministry, I often listen to somewhat isolated individuals that are exhibiting (to some degree) an unhealthy form of independence. What is written here will help those in budding dating relationships (and all relationships) to put down subtle defensive social and communication patterns that are blocking true Christian intimacy, particularly that which leads to and culminates into Holy Matrimony.

We are not “victims” when it comes to unfulfilled hopes of Holy Matrimony. Jesus said, “Greater will you do now that I go to the Father.” We are enormously powerful in Christ. No greater use of our freewill is exemplified as much as when we create our vocation. And yes, “you” create your vocation with God. Jesus’ quote above rightly says “greater will YOU do”. Yes, “you” (John 14:12).

Unconsciously creating frustrating and time-consuming relationship situations without happy endings is a serious “thorn” in the flesh of vocation discerners that needs to be openly addressed and removed in those of both genders.

Men and women alike would benefit by discovering that the way to find your spouse is to be your deepest, most beautiful, fun-loving self, fully accepting of yourself and your history. Having arrived at this realization, we have reached a state of being freely united in the
truth about our human limitations and need for practical help in order to grow. This “practical help” often comes in the form of Holy Matrimony.

We do well to think of the creating of our Holy Matrimony in practical conscious ways, not leaning too heavily on intuitive visceral romantic swooning. If we rely too heavily on mystical type experiences we are more likely to foster a “victim” mentality expecting God to drop a Holy
Matrimony from the sky. This unrealistic expectation is attune to a farmer throwing out a handful of seeds and expecting a nicely tailored row of abundant harvest to appear,

Creating Holy Matrimony with God is the most mature Catholic creation in which you become the friend of God, the “friend” of Christ (not a servant or slave (John 15:15). With that said, whoever honors our true selves and gives us a sense of greater and more confident freedom for that self to be unleashed is the one. All others who blanket that self with manipulation, subtle and not so subtle shame, need to be held at the acquaintance level. (One needs to keep moving forward for new opportunities.

Don’t waste time trying to change yourself to a self you think they might appreciate or try to figure out what is wrong with “you”. There is nothing wrong with “you”. On the other hand we need to guard against taking for granted the beautiful open nature of the man or woman that supports, accepts, and honors this beautiful true self of ours.

Unfortunately, many persons have not taken time to develop their true selves or even really know their true selves. Many saints have said or inferred that “to know your vocation one must know oneself”. That means you have your own interest and well developed personhood. You are a
happy individual on your own (quipping, I might say, you may do well to date yourself before you date others.)

Sometimes a person has a porous sense of self because they overly focus on another’s needs as a way of not having to address their own. Sometimes they just lack the social skills. They need the help of a supportive counselor who will support and bring out the real them until they grow familiar enough with themselves (and confident enough) to consistently stay connected to their own personhood.

As Catholic Christians this sense of unity within oneself is our human person merging with Christ power received in baptism. This unity within us brings forth a sense of solid interior stability. Now we are ready for a helpmate who can see us in our true perspective and us in theirs. And yes, you have to find someone who has prepared themselves as you have.

Sometimes we haven’t taken the time to know ourselves because we are obsessed with worry about a variety of concerns, our health, our finances, our relative’s health and finances etc. etc. Like Mary running around with the party details. If we sit with Jesus, in our own selves in peace and serenity we are already in the garden before the fall (in the paradise of being in glorious reality with God). Having consciously prepared for our spouse, the new Adam, the new Eve appears and is easily recognized chiming the praises of God in tune because we first have taken the time to be in tune with ourselves in Christ.

Natalie Smith is a single Catholic mother and grandmother. She is also the founder of VocationsPlacement.org and a published author of several spiritual writings. She is a member of a running club. She also hopes to take a pottery class soon.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. David Hahn permalink
    May 22, 2011 8:40 pm

    Knowing thyself is great advice. I think however something you said above alludes to something more important once one does know thyself. You said, “Creating Holy Matrimony with God is the most mature Catholic creation in which you become the friend of God, the “friend” of Christ (not a servant or slave (John 15:15).”

    If being a friend of God is the proper relationship with God than perhaps that is the proper relationship man and women need to have between themselves before they think about matrimony. Often people will say being friends with someone is the death of a romantic relationship. However I think that being friends with someone first is the proper way to approach a marriage partner. Blessed John Paul II mentions this in his book Love and Responsibility. He states that friendship is the foundation of a marital relationship. It seems that as fallen human beings we tend to be drawn to that which is harmful to us or not the proper Holy way. This is what is called concupiscence. We tend to look at a person who meets our emotional or physical needs or likes. As if a person is the same as a good meal, nice clothes the perfect house or car or vacation spot. When the person meets these needs and triggers an emotional (romantic) feeling we tend to think this is TRUE LOVE. However as JP II says this is no more than using a person. When we truly love someone we are concerned for their well being. We want what is best for them. We have emotional attachments toward them but not for the sake of feeling those good emotions for ourselves. Those emotional attachments cause not a egocentric response but one of giving one of sacrifice. The emotions motivate us to care for the other to sacrifice for the other.

    So once to people become good friends in the deepest sense of friendship it is this very friendship that causes one to have emotional or romantic feelings for the other that in my opinion determines the proper reason why people need to develop these feelings. Otherwise the feelings end up being something selfish rather than self giving. Romantic feelings based on or springing from friendship will last forever flourish and grow even when the other falls or one sees the others short comings which tend not to be seen till later on in a marriage. These short comings will even cause one to love the person more if the love is based on a friendship.

    If romantic feelings are based on something else or stem from something else ie. the person meets my taste is my type, the relationship is doomed to fail. The person will eventually no longer satisfy you and the romantic feelings will die as well. Thus people think love has died when in reality love didn’t die because Love was never really there. So if people continue to look for that romantic spark when looking for someone to date marriages in my opinion will continue to fail. Ending up in divorce or an unhappy marriage. However if people put the romantic feelings on the shelf and develop strong friendships without the thought of marriage first than they will be doing what is needed to form Godly marriages. So before people date I think they should have been friends first for as long as possible.

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