Sometimes when a person is discerning a calling to religious life, things don't work out with a particular religious community. But does that mean that the person is not called to religious life at all? Heavens, no! If a person still is drawn to religious life and feels God nudging them along, it may mean that another community is more of a right fit than the one that didn't work out.
Think of it like dating -- you many be attracted to many different kinds of people and date one, two or many before you find the person that you really love being with. That person may also be the one who is truly home for you, the person with whom you want to live out the rest of our life! If that very first relationship doesn't work out, does that mean that there is nobody out there for you? Not at all! My first date was is second grade, and I sure am glad I didn't let that breakup determine the rest of my relationship future!
"There are other fish in the sea," as the saying goes and while it's not always fun to hear that after a breakup, it also rings true for relationships with individuals as well as with religious communities. Each of our communities certainly share in the same spirituality and tradition of religious life, but we each live it uniquely as inspired by the Holy Spirit. You may meet one religious community that has an emphasis on contemplative prayer, and then find in another community that their emphasis is on inner city ministry. Yet another community may have a closeness to the earth, and another a strong intellectual tradition. Some may have wonderful combinations of emphases!
And then there's the personal dimension. You don't just become a sister or nun generically. You do so with these particular women, in this particular set of relationships. These are the women who have your back, and you theirs. They are the ones with whom you pray, figure out stuff, live, have fun, socialize, and work out God's mission. "Liking" your nuns is very important!
So if you've had the experience of checking out a religious community and aren't sure they are for you -- but still feel called to religious life -- take heart! It doesn't mean you are absolutely not called to become a Catholic sister or nun! Talk with a spiritual director, trusted friends, and others who can help you navigate this time and see if exploring other communities would be helpful to you.
How do you find other religious communities? Well you're in a good place right now! We at A Nun's Life Ministry talk to all kinds of sisters and nuns all the time and you'll find them on our podcasts, in our chat room, blogging, and on social media with us! You can even join us online for our Motherhouse Road Trip where we visit a variety of religious communities and share their stories, campus, buildings, spirituality, and mission with you! Another great resource is Vision Vocation Network which features a vocation match survey and lots of links to find communities that are compatible with you!