St. Therese is often credited with saying, “My vocation is love!” In reality, we all have a vocation to love, but that love manifests itself differently in different vocations. St. Therese, one of my all-time favorite saints, had a vocation to the religious life. I have a vocation to married life.
Marriage, ever since a young age, has been written on my heart, though realizing it and accepting it was a much longer road. In high school I began to feel a pull to religious life. I’d been on a number of retreats and was, in a radical way, ready to say ‘yes’ to whatever Jesus called me to. I longed for Him so deeply that marriage to Him in religious life seemed to be the only logical choice. He was (and is) the one my heart loves. I went to college to study theology with the pull towards religious life on my heart.
College life was different and wonderful, and over my time in college my desire for religious life faded and was replaced by a deep desire for marriage. I spent time with different orders in college and, while they were inspiring and beautiful, I never felt called to join them. I actually became fairly convinced that I’d meet my husband while I was in college. Graduation came and went without a ring on my finger or a serious relationship to show, and I returned home to Colorado. I dated a few guys briefly after graduation, and after one serious relationship ended I felt pretty lost. I went on another retreat and felt God pulling me towards religious life in a big, big way. I started meeting with a spiritual director and researched more orders than I can even list.
A few weeks after I started meeting with a spiritual director, a wonderful and enchanting man came along and wanted to court me. Things started off splendidly but slowly got worse, more dramatic, and trying over time. Despite promises of an engagement, things between us ended. A friend had asked me a few days before the break-up (which I did not see coming) what I would do if we broke up. I clearly remember telling her, “I’d probably go crazy for a few months, drink, party and go nuts, and then I’d join a convent.” I meant it.
A few days later we broke up, but instead of going crazy, I turned to Mass. I started going nearly every day. Soon I took up praying the rosary daily as well. In a sense I did go crazy: crazy for the Eucharist. Heartbreak plunged me deep into the heart of God, seeking Him for healing, consolation and peace. It was in that deep time of prayer and throwing myself at God – the exact place I’d been unconsciously hiding from – that my vocation to marriage was confirmed. Marriage had always been on my heart, and in truth, running to religious life was really me running away from the pains and heartache of dating. It was in adoration one night that I felt God say to me, “I see your desire for religious life and I love that you are willing to give Me everything, but you and I both know that you deeply desire marriage – and that is where I need you. Go.” It was a beautiful moment I’ll never forget when, once and for all, He wrote my vocation on my heart so deeply that there was no more denying it, no more running it, no more fearing that He wouldn’t bring it about when the time was right.
In fact, it wasn’t long after that night that I began dating my fiance Anthony. We dated for seven months before he proposed at the National Shrine of St. Therese (who has been a monumental part of our relationship) and we are going to be married on May 31, 2014. God is faithful and once I stopped running away from the potential pain of a break-up, He showed me my vocation, how deeply He desires to bring about the fulfillment of my marital vocation, and the ways that a vocation to married life can and should bring about my sainthood.