Recently we received a question—a dilemma really—of someone who was happy when she recently graduated from college but now feels something is wrong. Does God want her to be a nun, even though she is not drawn to it and it “feels forced”? She feels guilty for not wanting to be a nun and thinks God has taken away her happiness over this. These are the kinds of knots we can get ourselves into when wrestling with the seemingly elusive will of God. I’d like to comment on two things here that really catch my heart—the sad wrestling with God and the guilt over the nun dilemma.
First, we need to remember that God does not play games with us. Years ago there was a book called The Games People Play. In our human experience, we have seen complicated, painful games that people play in their interactions—from excluding others on the playground to deceiving or betraying others in work or love.
The refreshing and consoling fact we must remember is that God does NOT play those games. There is no tricking or misleading or retaliating in our encounters with God. God is utterly trustworthy, incapable of willing anything but our greatest good and ultimate happiness. When we turn away thinking that God is hurting us and taking happiness away, we are suffering needlessly.
How God must want to grab us and look deep into our eyes and say, “My precious child, there is nothing you can do that would make me take happiness from you. I sent my Son to show you how to find fullness of life and happiness.” God’s way of thinking has no room for coercing, forcing, or giving up on us.
The second part of this woman’s dilemma is actually something I have heard before—wondering if God wants one to join religious life when there is absolutely no desire or draw to it. Do we think that God would request someone to be a nun when everything in them desires another vocation such as marriage and motherhood? This question is really about discernment, which we have addressed before in this blog. The general wisdom about how God communicates with us is that God speaks in the depths of the human heart.
If you sincerely want to follow God’s will for you, then you can presume that the Holy Spirit will stir your heart in the right direction. So if God is calling someone to religious life, there should be some desire to live the life, even if it would be challenging. God would not call someone to a life that would break their heart.
So let’s put down any worries or defenses with God, and know that God speaks tenderly to us, drawing us with bands of love to the vocation that will truly fulfill our heart’s desire.