How do you put years of discernment on a single piece of paper or within a single write-up? As I was praying about it, the reality of its simplicity struck me: God called and I said, “No” until Mary softened my heart. Well, actually it was more like, God called and I said, “No.” God called again and I said, firmly, “NO!” God asked yet again and I said, “No! Marriage, Lord, marriage.” God drew me to Himself, got His Mom involved and asked me once more and I said, “Well… maybe.” God, in His infinite patience, asked a final time and I answered with a resounding, “Yes!”
The first time I heard God call me was in the 5th grade. Our English class was learning how to write business letters. For our assignment we were supposed to write a formal letter to any company in which we could see ourselves working “when we grew up”. I thought for a while on it and realized that the only thing that sounded interesting and exciting to me was being a religious sister. So I wrote a missionary sister who graciously responded to me. As part of the assignment, we were to share any responses we received with the entire class. I remember feeling embarrassed as I read her response out loud. That was enough to snuff out the desire to be a sister (I was a very sensitive kid).
Throughout grade school the idea of being a sister was always in the back of my mind. I still heard God’s gentle voice calling me, but being the age that I was I didn’t want to confront it, so I dealt with it by saying flat out, “no”. Then, as a freshman in high school, my mom, sister, and I took a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Now Jesus was pulling out the big guns and getting His Mom to help Him in His “little scheme”. He knew I had a soft spot for Her and He played that card well. While in Medjugorje I felt, through Mary, the tug of the Lord growing stronger, asking me to devote my entire life to Him. My response was, “Sounds great, Lord, but I can devote my life to You without wearing a habit.” But Momma Mary softened my heart and helped me to be open to the idea of a marriage to Her Son. I went on through my high school years with this idea very much in the forefront of my mind.
Being the stubborn person that I am, I told God that I wasn’t going to commit until I tasted the dating life even though I knew in my heart of hearts that it would not bring me the fulfillment or satisfaction I desired, that it would not make me truly happy. Humoring me, God sent a very holy young man into my life. Through a youth group program I met my first real boyfriend, Anthony. He was everything I wanted in a husband (God covered His bases, making sure I’d have no doubts): he was a gentleman, generous, self-sacrificing, not passive, considerate, mature, respectful of me, always upholding my dignity, funny, desired to be a saint, and challenged me to be holier. As a cherry on top, he was cute, too. But while we dated I felt a separation between my heart and my body. It didn’t feel right. Something was off. It was like my mind and my heart hit a fork in the road and went on opposite paths: my heart was going towards religious life and my mind towards marriage. In my stubbornness I was attempting to lasso my heart and pull it over to the side my mind was on. I took it to prayer and (rather stupidly, since I knew the answer) asked God what was going on. He made it very clear to me (He is so patient with us) that in order to feel whole and in order to be at peace I was to give my entire life to Him, to be a bride of Christ. With that imagery, to be Jesus’ bride, I said, without a doubt and with such joy, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
Now I won’t say that I didn’t have any doubts later or any struggles along the road. Heavens, no. How could there not be when society sees you as strange because you are not following the norm and getting married? I struggled with still wanting to date. I found it hard to be wooed by Someone who is not tangible in the form you want Him to be or present to you physically in body. I struggled with telling people and admitting out loud that I wanted to dedicate my life to Jesus by being a sister. But God remained faithful to me and He kept renewing His proposal to me in various ways. He knew my heart and wooed me in ways no earthly man could. I had so much love and support from family and friends that encouraged me, kept me focused, and strengthened me in times of temptation to renounce my decision. By the grace of God I had the perseverance and commitment to remain faithful to my call throughout high school and grade school. Now, 12 years after that initial call in the 5th grade, I have joined this religious community where Jesus is continuing to woo me and pursue my heart in ways I never thought possible. And in turn, I am growing so much more in love with Him!