Jump to content

Mess of Discernment


Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I don't know if this is a good place to do this, but I'm so confused right now, I just need somewhere to get it off my chest. So, my story...

As a teenager, I was a Protestant (evangelical) and felt called to full-time ministry (though how that would go, I didn't know), so I attended a college in my denomination and began studying theology. The problem during this time is that I was hiding a major struggle: SSA. On top of that, as I began to study more, the theology of the denomination just didn't sit well with me and didn't seem right. So, by Junior year, I decided that I could no longer, in good conscience, be a minister for them and switched tracks to prepping for law school. 

One of the problems, my personal struggle, was finally dealt with my senior year. Another student had come out about his feelings and implicated me as well (we had sat and discussed it over the summer). So, I was ordered to counseling. During counseling, I was able to learn that the attractions weren't a normal part of me, but were a product of continual abuse as a child. Through that, I was able to begin the healing process and come to a normal sexuality. It was very freeing and I still hit myself every day for not just seeking help myself earlier. 

Fast forward to law school, and I'm still struggling with the theology issues. My faith had been torn apart and I was now in a fairly liberal secular environment. Finally, I decided that I needed to figure it out once and for all and began studying. I quickly came to the conclusion that Catholicism was the true faith, entered RCIA, professed into full communion, and was confirmed. Throughout RCIA I was already attending Mass and going to adoration, as well as praying Catholic prayers and engaging in ministry. As all of that religiosity began to swell back up inside of me, I felt that draw to ministry again - this time, it was much more clear than it was when I was a Protestant - priesthood. 

Within a year of entering the Church, I was in the vocations director's office and we were discussing everything. I was open and honest concerning my past. He went and talked to the bishop. The bishop determined that it would not be good for me to move into formal discernment but that if I still felt the call in a few years, to come back.

So, I let it go. I lived my life, became a lawyer, did my Christian duties. Every so often, during seasons of strengthened prayer life, that feeling and draw would come back and I'd have to work on setting it aside without it affecting my spiritual life. I needed to be obedient to my bishop. 

Now, fast forward a couple of years, I have a lot of student debt, two dogs that have seen me through thick and thin, and a girlfriend. I'm at the point with her that, if I were to marry, I would marry her. But, here's the problem, as the relationship has developed, the draw toward priesthood and the feeling that "this isn't what I'm supposed to be doing" has continually crawled into my head more and more intensely, especially in prayer or at Mass. Marriage, at this point, is the easy route. I can continue working on my student loans at a normal pace rather than having to work with Laboure or figure out some way to disappear a significant chunk in a short period, I would not have to give up my dogs, and I would get the joy of my own family. I just don't know that it's the right path. And I'm scared to pursue the alternative. I don't want her to leave me and then I find out that I'm not called to the priesthood anyway. Nor do I want a vocations director to simply push me off because I'm in a serious relationship, so marriage must be my call. And, to complicate it, I'm now in a different diocese than I started in. I moved for work and I consider my old diocese my "home," but I don't know if it would be appropriate to go back to them or if I should pursue discernment here. 

It's a mess and it's confusing and I know I should just talk to my girlfriend and the vocations director, but...I don't know...it's hard to explain where my head is at. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


It took me a few minutes to figure what SSA was- I only came up with Social Security Administration.  It dawned on me as I read on.

Just want to say that you are in my prayers.  The "mess" of discernment, as you name it,  and related confusion feel unpleasant indeed.   It helps me to remind myself, over and over, to "trust in the slow work of God" as Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin reminds us.  In my own experience, I have seen (only with the grace of handsight) that God used every bit of messiness and seeming misstep to draw me closer to the heart of Christ.   I have learned gradually how completely trustworthy God is to guide my life and that my role is to cooperate and not try to "push the river."

If these words are helpful, thanks be to God. 

And of course, having a spiritual director or pastoral counselor who knows you better than we can, might well be a good help for you!

Peace and all good to you.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, Graciela said:

In my own experience, I have seen (only with the grace of handsight) that God used every bit of messiness and seeming misstep to draw me closer to the heart of Christ.   I have learned gradually how completely trustworthy God is to guide my life and that my role is to cooperate and not try to "push the river."


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

It costs about $850 a year for Phatmass.com to survive–and we barely make it. If you’d like to help keep the Phorum alive, please consider a monthly gift.

  • Create New...