Waiting on a Voice

Though I've heard and read dozens of so-called "vocation stories" wherein religious and priests relate how they came to realize their vocation, I cling to one such story of a religious sister in particular. We'll call her Sister Rose. 

Sister Rose was blessed to attend World Youth Day in Madrid. She traveled across the ocean with a group of pilgrims from her parish to attend this gathering. Several days of festivities and prayer followed. At the heart of the city, thousands jostled each other as they moved in great herds toward an event one day. Sister Rose kept in pace with her group, though it was sometimes difficult to stay together because of the chaos. Suddenly, from the vast crowd came a solitary yell, barreling over the heads of thousands of pilgrims:

"Where's Rose?"

Once more, the disembodied voice called to Sister:

"Where's Rose?"

Rose whipped around, shocked that someone could be calling to her in this foreign city amongst the crowds. It turned out that a religious sister from home recognized Rose's parish group halfway across the world. But the sister did not see Rose amongst the crowd, and so called out to her. Rose remembers this as a turning point in recognizing God's call in her life. That single voice called her, only her, from among thousands of people. Rose saw that moment as God calling her by name to the religious life. Obviously, her vocational discernment was not quite so simple, but this incident was pivotal in her story. 

When I heard Sister Rose tell her story, I was moved deep within. I had an intense desire to be called by God by name, just as Sister Rose had been called years ago. I waited for the day when God would call to me so clearly. I envisioned an instant vocational clarity. I sincerely believed God had to call me by name, His voice cutting through the crowd to choose me and me alone. I would hear His mighty voice despite all the chaos around me. I would answer His loving call. 

That hasn't happened yet. 

That's not to say God won't call me by name. He has already done so; He is calling to me and me alone. I think of the woman in the Bible who touched Jesus' cloak in faith so that she might be healed (Mark 5:30). He knew her; he felt her touch despite the crowd pressing in around him. He knows everything about us, even that which we do not know ourselves. And therein lies a key human desire: to be known. 

I want to be known and called by name. I want to be known through and through, to be turned inside out and upside down and to have someone anticipate my every need, want, and sway of the heart. I want someone to discover the mystery of me. This is a natural desire that can only be fulfilled by His Love. We are all, after all, made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26), and our Trinitarian God is an infinite mystery waiting for us to discover Him. 

However, I and others often mistakenly expect those around us to know us in a way that only He does. I find myself annoyed when my friends or family members struggle to remember that my favorite color is green or that I value alone time after a tiring day. It is unfair of me to hold my friends and family to such unrealistic standards. 

If God calls me to the vocation of marriage, even my husband will never be able to anticipate my every desire, thought, reaction, or sorrow. Only the Lord will ever know everything about me! And what a comfort that is; surely, no man can do such a thing, and it is foolish for me to think he could. Yet I do, because I entertain a heavenly desire while on Earth. 

Sister Rose heard God calling her name in a tangible way, on the streets of Madrid so far from home. God may not call us by the same means, but He wants us to delight in Him just as He delights in us. He calls us all by name to Him, even if I do not hear "Where's Rebecca?" in some foreign country halfway across the world. He calls me right here in Steubenville, or wherever I am. He knows me and loves me, and He does the same for you. 

But now, thus says the Lord,    who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;    I have called you by name: you are mine. (Is. 43:1) 

1 comment:

  1. I love vocation stories too! That's a really neat experience that Sister Rose had. Also, I think this reflection is beautiful, and really cool as we prepare to enter into Lent-a season in which it is good to deepen our intimacy with God and let Him call us deeper in His love. Thanks, Rebecca! (also, my husband's favorite color is green, too!)


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