Your Vocation Is To Love

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I’ve noticed that so many young Catholics have an inordinate amount anxiety about their vocations. I definitely put myself into this category. When I understood that my vocation was to the married life, it felt like I spent every waking moment worrying about it. Was this particular person “The One”? Was this other particular person “The One” but we messed it up somehow?  Did I have the necessary virtues to be the best Catholic wife I could be? Where did I need to improve? What else did I need to learn?

I spent so many sleepless nights thinking about these big, important things. “God,” I would say, “this is the most critical decision of my life. This is what You have called me to do when You knit me together in my mother’s womb. So why are You making it so confusing and hard!?”

It was so frustrating to me at times to wrestle with questions of my vocation and to hear radio silence from God about it. Or, even worse, to decide to go down one path that I was sure was His will only to have it end for one reason or another. It gave me so much grief that God was making this all so difficult when all I wanted was to live the life to which He had called me. I would come to my spiritual director with the same worries and frustrations month after month. He would always just smile and remind me of the words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux: “My vocation is love”

We must, indeed, remember that our primary vocation in this life is to love. I had missed that point entirely early on in my discernment and still sometimes do in my daily life. Marriage or the religious life are secondary vocations – but first and foremost is the commandment to love God and others. When I took this to heart, I realized that I needed to stop worrying about my vocation and how it would unfold. I needed to stop questioning God about it and having faith in His timing and His ways. To love Him, to love others, and to give myself to those who needed me the most right now in the present moment. And He would take care of my secondary vocation when the time was right.

So young friends, stop worrying incessantly about discerning your vocations. Stop trying to “figure it all out”. Stop running yourselves ragged. God is not trying to hide His will from you nor is He intentionally making it confusing or difficult. It is all so very simple: just love those whom He has put in your life today. That is all He asks of you. And He will take care of everything else.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” – Matthew 6:25


Amy Atkinson

Amy Atkinson

Amy Atkinson is a lifelong member of the Diocese of Arlington located in Northern Virginia. She is active in several of the diocese's young adult programs and has worked with many Catholic organizations throughout the DC/Metro area including Endow and Birthright, focusing primarily on ministry for young women.

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2 thoughts on “Your Vocation Is To Love”

  1. Avatar

    If you type “wait for the Lord” in a Bible search engine, you’ll be surprised that such waiting is actually a Biblical theme that is repeated in multiple verses. A nice one is Isaiah 40:31
    “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
    That renewing one’s strength though is not easy at first hence another scripture says, ” Wait for the Lord, be stout hearted and wait for the Lord”…psalm 27:14.
    You Amy have thus solved well this mystery of waiting and you didn’t solve it in an instant…God wants you not pining away while waiting but doing love in the here and now. You are wise to make love primary and marriage secondary. To love is in your control til you die. To be married is not. There are many long marriages yet there are so many sudden young widows or widowers in the news who each thought they would have their spouse “forever”… but a car accident or a storm or a crime suddenly ended that. Best to nurture that side of life you can control…loving persons in your here and now world …better than you loved them yesterday. That means that when you do marry, you’ll be capable of loving neighbors in their needs far more than the self enclosed couples who stay to themselves and frankly are almost unwittingly begging God to shock them out of that selfielike enclosure.

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    The first paragraph of this article points to a real problem of misinformation in today’s Church.

    “I’ve noticed that so many young Catholics have an inordinate amount anxiety about their vocations. … When I understood that my vocation was to the married life, it felt like I spent every waking moment worrying about it.”

    Sometime in the last few years, the Church started pushing the “vocation of marriage” idea, and created phony pressure to “discern” it and worry endlessly about it. This is bad information, and it surely has not been helping. The number of Catholic marriages has plummeted to near zero in the last few decades. And how have dioceses responded? In my diocese, marriage prep has been prolonged into a nine-month ordeal. But that’s only after you’ve dated and found a person to marry. It’s putting the cart way before the horse.

    Additionally, calling marriage a “vocation” causes anger and resentment among singles who feel abandoned by their parishes, which no longer have the community events and social networks that previous generations used to meet their potential spouses. These singles demand to have a “vocation” too, so now the pointless “is single life a vocation?” debate rages.

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