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! Iíve been running away from a possible calling to religious life for quite some time, and finally Godís 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 Iíve 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, Iíve discovered that itís truly amazing how freeing it is to surrender oneself to God, and also puzzling that Iíve been running away from this peace for so long! (Why!?)

Upon objective reflection on myself and my personality, Iíve 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 Iíve 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 Iím 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 canít describe as the young, lively sisters told their vocation stories - not one of them didnít hit me somehow. What was this feeling? The next day, I suddenly had doubts like, ďI canít handle the contemplative part,Ē and ďWhat if God asks me to leave school here early to enter the postulancy there?Ē So Iíve tried giving these to Christ, too, since I know that I need to live here and now, taking care of what heís 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 donít 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: donít trust them. When they are present and make things easier enjoy them while you can, but donít 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 shouldnít are your reasons, your faith.

God bless.

- Father Anthony



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