Emotional Roller Coaster

Being human and all, I question how much to trust my emotions throughout this entire discernment process, which is surely far from over.
by Father Anthony Bannon, LC | Source:
Dear Father Anthony,

Hi! I’ve been running away from a possible calling to religious life for quite some time, and finally God’s graces have helped me honestly open up to it. (Woo hoo! Peace at last! Praise God!) Being human and all, I question how much to trust my emotions throughout this entire discernment process, which is surely far from over.

For the past month or so (until about a week ago), my dating relationship with a good, holy friend became a little strained. We prayed over what to do (knowing that I’ve not yet discerned my vocation), and it became apparent that Jen needs time and space to focus on Christ in order to listen to where he wants to lead her... Sooo, I’ve discovered that it’s truly amazing how freeing it is to surrender oneself to God, and also puzzling that I’ve been running away from this peace for so long! (Why!?)

Upon objective reflection on myself and my personality, I’ve concluded so far that I fit religious life pretty well (or it fits me, or however that works). I get all excited when I think about bringing people to Christ and bringing him to others (although I’ve been enthusiastic about this for a long time) and want to do this full time, regardless of my vocation. When I think of being forever separated from my aforementioned friend, I get all worked up again [emotional roller coaster!], but I’m learning to go to Jesus with it and ask Mary for help, too. Besides, I want to give Jesus a fair chance at my heart.

Okay, in addition to the emotional moments I just wrote about, I had some intense feelings/pullings several days ago when some sisters from a teaching (active/contemplative) order visited our Catholic Campus Center. There was this burning inside my chest I can’t describe as the young, lively sisters told their vocation stories - not one of them didn’t hit me somehow. What was this feeling? The next day, I suddenly had doubts like, “I can’t handle the contemplative part,” and “What if God asks me to leave school here early to enter the postulancy there?” So I’ve tried giving these to Christ, too, since I know that I need to live here and now, taking care of what he’s given me at this point and enjoying his gifts at this time, letting HIM take care of my future. I intend to visit this congregation within the next month or two (and live there next summer, if God leads me there), but in the meantime I don’t know whether to listen to any emotions and feelings to ignore them and let them run their course (or do something in between). Any suggestions?
Thanks for your prayers and advice. God bless you!

- Jen

A. Dear Jen,

The short answer on emotions is: don’t trust them. When they are present and make things easier enjoy them while you can, but don’t trust them. Even when you feel great about things you have to think, examine, pray, and base your decisions on what you discover there. The premise for all your decisions must be that your feelings are going to change. What shouldn’t are your reasons, your faith.

God bless.

- Father Anthony

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