Discernment Without Labels

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Recently, I realise how traditional categories of “vocation”, or “states of life”, can sometimes be a distraction or hindrance to discerning one’s vocation in life.

“Single life” seems to carry uncomfortable undertones of being “lonely”, “left on the shelf” or “unwanted”, and therefore cause people to hurriedly and prematurely seek out marriage or religious life just to stay away from such an unpopular ‘category’. “Priestly or religious life” can carry undertones that one must be “holy enough” or “not interested in the opposite sex” which deter people from seriously considering it; or else they become “trophy titles” that one chases after to feel important or good about themselves for giving up their life for a “worthy cause”. “Marriage” can become the “default vocation” everyone prays to be called into, without fully understanding what it truly entails, or how they may be using another person to fulfill their own unmet needs in an unhealthy way.

What I’m discovering for myself recently is that the very first vocation I should be discerning about is what recent literature terms as my “Personal Vocation”, which is to discover who I uniquely am and what is my unique purpose on this earth that no one can replace? In the language of Pope St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, it is to discover how I am a unique and unrepeatable gift to others in a way that reveals God to others through simply being my true, God-made self along with all my unique gifts, passions and desires. It is when I can more fully discover who God made me to uniquely be, that I can discover my own unique path, before naturally discovering the particular state of life through which I am called to live out my Personal Vocation.

At this juncture of my life, God seems to be inviting me to discover myself again, to pull myself out of any “vocational labels”, to not tie my self-worth and identity onto my title or ministry as “seminarian”, and simply discover how I am enough as Nicholas, and that I already am a unique and irreplaceable gift to others simply by being my real authentic self.

So here’s claiming my original beauty and worth, loving myself as I am, and being a gift to others simply as Nick.

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Originally posted on Instagram.

Nicholas Lye

Nicholas Lye

Nicholas Lye is a Singaporean currently on a year's sabbatical from the seminary, discerning his path in life and striving to facilitate encounters with God in the workplace and ordinary life.

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