Monday, June 22, 2009
God Told Me To Take a Flying Leap
I've decided that if I'm going to write about discernment, it might be valuable to write also about the process and communication between myself and the various communities. Each is a little different. They require different things, and not always for reasons I can understand or explain. I can only present what is going on to a general degree, in hopes the information is helpful to someone, somewhere.
One of the communities with which I've been in contact confirmed this weekend some dates I can visit them. She also attached a document requesting I forward it to my SD or Pastor, explaining it was a reference form.
Additionally she indicated I need to write my autobiography and send it to her before my visit, and in response to some of my questions, explained I should include a self-assessment of my character and a few other things, such as family history and relationships. I was a bit surprised; after all, I was only going for a short discernment retreat! But if that's their process, that's their process. Even if I consider it a bit invasive for a few days of introduction, there must be reason and I'm willing to submit to that.
I'd responded to confirm the dates of the retreat before I looked at the reference form (as I needed to view it via a different browser).
Imagine my surprise when I opened the document and it said, "X person has applied for admission to Y Order...."
I was a bit shocked by that! While I admit I'm interested in visiting to find out more about their life and charism, that does NOT equal "applying to the Order". No WAY was I going to forward that form on to my SD! If I did, no doubt he would also be surprised and would write back/call to ask me if that, in fact, was my intention to apply. I'd have to say no!
One thing about discernment...if you're not honest, with yourself and with any potential communities, it's going to end in disaster. For a little while, I wavered...send it on assuming it's part of their discernment process, or, would doing so really be saying I'm applying to this Order?
Realizing my circular thinking that really just needed clarification, I sent another email to Sister requesting clarification and explaining my position. I figured that if they required application before a visit could occur, it would be a sign of God's will that it wasn't the place for me...definitively. Which was fine with me. I was ready to say "no" if that was the case.
Here's the odd thing: as all of this was going through my mind and I was composing the email, I was taken back in time. I had a friend, a guy friend who seemed to think we were in or headed for a serious relationship. To me, he was just a friend and I wasn't interested in anything more. He clearly WAS, however. Unfortunately, this issue seemed always to come up at times where it would be improper to have "that conversation" so instead I found ways to get out of it while trying to figure out how to let him down easy. He wasn't a bad guy, just a really clueless one. And I figured maybe I'd sent the wrong signals. How to explain to him I wasn't where he was?
In pondering the forms and writing the email to this community, then, I almost felt like I was back in that situation. "Oh, no! He thinks I mean I want to get married when really I just want to be friends!"
And we are all familiar with the similar situation where we "LIKE-LIKE" a guy but we don't want to consider marriage with them until we know we're really friends and really click. So maybe we're headed that way but in reality, they're assuming more than we're willing to offer. And....how to make him slow down a little bit? We don't want to close the door, just...take more time to say hello and meet the family before the ring appears.
Not that I've ever been given a ring. I haven't.
I don't want to go where God does not want me to go. I have six weeks this summer, a very limited period of time. It is not in my interest to waste my time, and certainly not in any given community's interest to waste theirs! And sometimes God's will is revealed obviously, sometimes it's more subtle. Lately, given the ways He's been opening doors, I would not be taken by surprise if He decides to slam one shut in order to say, "Not this one! Not for you!"
Today, though, I received a response to my query, with apologies, and a different form attached. She explained that in the past, they required the reference at application, but have moved that part of the process to the discernment retreat instead. The wording on the proper form makes a great deal more sense! I need to print it out and sign my life away (well, to a certain degree!) in order for my SD to respond to it. She also clarified that she is aware of my position (i.e. no miscommunication on that point!) and they don't expect me to be at that point right now.
Whew! (She also jokingly commented that she hopes my heart didn't stop for too long!) I have to interject that the last couple emails have been peppered with a little random humor, and that makes me more comfortable with the process. I tend to use humor to deal with stress (because it works!) and find that those who are so formal that humor can't be a part of the picture are lacking in personality. ;-)
So, anyway... it's clear that this particular community is SERIOUS about discernment! It's a good thing I'm serious about it, too!
That's not to say I think I'm called to that particular community. I only know that something about it has gotten my attention, and I feel like I have to see it through. It could be that I get there and find immediately that it's not where I belong. Or I may go...and find home. I don't think there will be any ambiguity at all.
In reality, that's what I expect with the other communities as well, the ones I'll be visiting early to mid July. Will it be "home"? Will it be a lesson in all the virtues packed into a single week or a few days? Will it lay questions to rest or affirm what I (and a few others) suspect?
The only way to know is to go and find out, and that's a risk. One I definitely think is worth taking.
In so many ways, I'm completely amazed at my current position. Here I stand, perched in the doorway of a fighter jet (things are moving that quickly!) getting ready to jump. I don't know what's below me but I DO know that God is flying this plane and has asked me to take a flying leap...(in a holy way...)
A lot is happening, all at once, and yet, I feel prepared, to at least a certain degree. I know that I'm not doing this alone, even if I am the one who has to make the sacrifice of actually stepping over the edge into this freefall.
And...let me tell you..it's a BIG drop off the end of this pier!
BOMBS AWAY! BANZAI!
* (I like to mix metaphors. It keeps people on their toes!)