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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. 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?

Who knows?

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's a BIG drop off the end of this pier!


* (I like to mix metaphors. It keeps people on their toes!)


makemeaspark said...

All kidding aside, i am in awe of your path! I think it is totally awesome and in some ways i envy you that you may be able to experience something in God that i won't on this earth!


Paul said...

I'll continue to keep you in my prayers and, of course, the Lord goes before you always. Have fun and enjoy the view, I say. Do you think maybe God knew you'd be a bit freaked by the wrong form, so put in the reassurance and the humour? Interesting to ponder it, maybe....

Angela M. said...

I love hearing about this!

With prayers, Angela

Maureen said...

Heh, very apt comparison with dating!

Probably the reason why I'm so uncomfortable with discernment, though. Can't stand dating or job searches or anything of that nature, mostly because I know I come across badly.

Of course, if you want the end result badly enough, the process isn't so bad. And some people really do enjoy dating, or even find job searches interesting and amusing. :)

Brother Charles said...

Love the picture, by the way. Rich in associations, it is.

Vocation directors can be pushy. Sometimes this is good because it challenges someone to own their vocation, to see it on paper, make it real, etc. Such was my experience. On the other hand, sometimes they rush people in their desire to produce results for their communities. So don't be manipulated!

And don't worry about these autobiography kinds of things. They are concerned less with the content than with seeing if you are honestly self aware and reflective, neither of which would seem to be in doubt.

In religious life the point isn't to be free of "issues," but to own them well and be working through and within them.


Lillian Marie said...

Like you, I was taken aback by the endless forms that needed to be completed. One from the Pastor (who by the way refused to give me a letter of recommendation); 3 references; family history; personal history; personal letter of entrance; health forms; dental forms; eye forms; mental forms ...

It seemed over the edge.

However, when I thought about it - they also want to ensure that they are not getting into something over their head & can't afford. There's a huge cost in it for them as well. They will be, in reality, taking me in full time, paying my medical bills, paying for room & board, paying for anything else I would need.

I haven't decided a definite 'no' to the Trinitarians. In fact, I am still meeting with the U.S. Superior once a month and have some other volunteer work planned. I miss being with them. I miss saying prayers with them every morning & evening. I miss their laughter, their support, and their friendship.

And they haven't given up on me either. They are still praying. Many have said they know I am to be with them. In what capacity, only God knows.

And yes, it takes a flying leap (and yes, I have gone skydiving - but on the way out of the plane, yelled, 'Geronimo' *grin*)

The flying leap is also for the Sisters in the Order. They will have a new personality to work and live with. But in the end, whichever way it works, you will find more 'Sisters' than you ever thought you had. Sisters that would stand by you even if you left the Order.

Hidden One said...

@Maureen: Anyone who enjoys job searches is NUTS.

@Adoro: The thing about flying leaps is that, no matter what one lands on, at some point in the process you always get to FLY.

The Ironic Catholic said...

"And don't worry about these autobiography kinds of things. They are concerned less with the content than with seeing if you are honestly self aware and reflective, neither of which would seem to be in doubt."


@Hidden One: But you get to fly--great extended metaphor!

Hidden One said...

Thanks, IC.

youKnowWHo said...

Glad all is clarified. Processes do change, so I can understand why it happened as it did. Blessings

Tara said...

Wow, that's kinda like asking if you can "date" and their setting you up for the "marriage." That would have stopped my heart.

Adoro said...

makemeaspark ~ LOL...don't be envious! That's not only a sin, but you've prob. experienced and will experienced things I never will! God is PERSONAL, not someone who favors! lol

Paul ~ Thank you for your prayers. I questioned this because it might be a part of God closing a door. But maybe not. It all has to be addressed. And it DID bring out the opp for more humor, which is always good!

Angela ~ Glad you're entertained. ;-)

Maureen ~ I had job searches, I am so glad to not be dating...except apparently I am. *sigh* It sucks to be a woman. The guys just fall all over us! And it's really their families that draw us in.... *sigh*

Father Charles ~ I don't think this one is pushy (although I've experienced "pushy" with a diff community and they "went away"!) She just sent the wrong form. This one is pretty austere and I'm guessing they're trying to avoid tourists!

Hmm...I am worried about the autobiography as, well, you know me..I could write anything, and maybe entirely useless things!

LM ~ All of the forms and applications make sense when one is APPLYING...but I'm NOT applying. I'm only going for a 3 day retreat. That's it. An experience of their life. I would EXPECT all the forms and physicals, etc when applying, for all the reasons you mention.

But when you FIRST visited the Trinitarians, they didn't ask you for that up front, did they? No. Not typically.

That's the issue in this post...they seemed to be asking for APPLICATION before I could VISIT. (sorry for the caps, I am too lazy for HTML tags)

I'm so glad to hear the Trinitarians aren't out of the question for you! So hope everything works out, and still want to come back to Cleveland to see you all! I miss you!

Hidden One ~ Flying is FUN!

IC ~ Ditto!

youknowwho~ Yeah, makes sense to me, too. Which is why I wrote for clarification...I figured she COULDN'T mean what I thought she meant! lol

Tara ~ Yup, pretty much. And that's a guaranteed NO! :-) But...that's happily not what was going on...