No one wakes up in the morning thinking: “Today I am going to be my absolute worst self!” Unless you are deliberately trying to lose your job, make someone breakup with you, or are just plain inconsiderate, you probably wake up thinking: “Today I’m going to be my best self 😌✌🏽.”
But for young people, especially those of us just leaving the confines of college, it is a struggle knowing exactly how to be one’s “best self”… how to be on “one’s game.” Amidst all the opportunities thrown at you… or maybe not being thrown at you, you begin to wonder: “What was I really created to do on this earth?” That, my dear friend, is the stirring of your spirit discerning its vocation.
But before going any further, in case you forgot, the goal of life is to get to heaven someday…to be with God. So “what you do” in this life to reach that goal is called your secondary vocation. It includes your occupation, for example, and is like the surface of a vocation.
Digging deeper, “how you do it” and “with whom” are called your primary vocation. God created us as communal beings and we must remember that we are not supposed to make the journey alone. We were not created to simply “just do me.” When we shoo others away and don’t give serious relationships a chance (with God and others on this earth), we are only hurting ourselves. We cannot reach our fullest potential. It is prideful thinking we can do it all alone. For this reason, we need a change of heart. We need to discern our vocations.
Catholics recognize 3 primary vocations in the Catechism, all of which encompass total life-giving of oneself to another. The primary vocations are explained below in more detail:
1. Matrimony- giving of oneself to a husband or wife
2. Holy Orders- giving of oneself to Christ’s Church
3. Consecrated life- giving of oneself directly to God (as a religious brother or sister)
*Consecrated singlehood is another option for those not being called to one of the other categories. Often it is because of a “particular circumstance not of their choosing” (Paragraph 1658 of the Catechism) in which they decide to consecrate their hearts to God alone.
Keep in mind that each vocation is special in its own way and is irreversible. Once you give yourself to one or the other, it is a permanent decision. For example, you cannot switch from taking a vow to the priesthood or religious life to become married, and vice versa. Just the same, someone who consecrates their heart as a single person (and has made a vow) cannot decide now that they want to get married. A vow is a promise and it must be lasting. There was a reason Jesus said “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.'” James 5:12
If you know what you are called to do in your primary vocation, you can make better decisions to align your course of actions to fulfill it. For example, if you are being called to matrimony, you will take every effort to make sure that you are the best possible wife to your husband someday and vice versa. You’ll treat those you date with dignity. You’ll understand that any emotional baggage you carry into the relationship with your future wife or husband will only hurt him or her, so you seek to diminish it entirely. You don’t seek things that are fillers for the burning desire you have for the one God created you to be with.
Instead, you focus on your spouse. You love them (whether it’s a person, Christ himself, or the Church) by learning to control the desires that may lead you astray from experiencing that one, true love on earth. That’s what living out your primary vocation to the fullest entails.
If you’ve already made mistakes that have your life derailing, it is never too late to repent and start back on the right path. By doing so, you’ll become closer to God=Closer to being the person God really created you to be=Closer to living out your vocation=Closer to the goal of heaven.
Understanding your vocation takes time and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but usually it is what you have a lasting desire for in your heart. Something you know that will make you a better person and that you will enjoy… Don’t forget that God wants us to be happy. The reality is: we live in a broken world, so that is not always the case. However, vocations are meant to rise above that. To give us hope for Heaven and the chance to fulfill God’s work on this earth as His instruments. If you still have no clue about your vocation, seek out the guidance of a spiritual mentor, partake in a retreat, go to confession to eradicate any sin that’s creating distance between you and God, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you, ask others for prayers, and ultimately have FAITH. Have confident expectation that the good you hope for in this life will come to be.