Guest post by Meg Hunter-Kilmer.
10 years ago I entered the convent. I quit my job, said goodbye to everyone I loved, and gave away everything I owned.
9 years and 9 months ago I left the convent.
Leaving was harder.
The whole time I was there, trying to ignore how wrong it all felt, how hopeless I was (a good sign something’s not God’s will), there was a fear: not just that I would fail to persevere in God’s will but that I would leave and everybody would think I had failed.
Leaving gave me greater joy than anything since I entered. Still, it was awful. I felt confused, ashamed, misunderstood. I thought I must have discerned wrong, that the search that had left me with half a dozen closed doors and one open one wasn’t thorough enough.
It was a long time before I realized that God can call you to enter religious life, but not to make vows. He can call you to medical school knowing you won’t graduate. He can call you to date someone you’re never going to marry. Because our God is a God of journeys, not of destinations. He’s the only destination He’s concerned about: His Sacred Heart and His loving arms in eternity.
He called me to enter a beautiful community that I’m deeply glad not to be a part of now. Maybe so I would become committed to silent prayer, or learn that I wasn’t called to religious life, or be in a grocery store in a funny outfit one day in 2009 because somebody needed it. I don’t need to know why.
I know that God was at work when I entered and when I left. He was at work when I explored consecrated virginity and when I started dating again. He was at work when I quit hoboing for the perfect job, and when that job dramatically disappeared and I got back on the road.
He’s working in your life right now, too. In your unemployment, disability, infertility, loneliness, marriage breakdown, addiction, uncertainty. He’s working in the false starts and the cringe-worthy mistakes.
Discernment isn’t about getting things right, about figuring out the missing piece that turns your struggle into happily-ever-after. Discernment is about following the Lord, even — especially — if you have no idea where He’s leading you.
10 years later, I’m glad I entered. I’m glad I left. I’m glad I followed.
When a soul tries its best to be united to God and on the other hand finds no peace in the tasks and in the place where it is, it is a sign that His Divine Majesty desires something else of it.
— St. Paul of the Cross