Discernment in Prayer: Discovering Vocation – Br. David Vryhof
How do I find mine?
Discovering, or “discerning” your vocation is a process. You won’t finish it today. The good news is that you already have everything you need to begin, because the best place to begin is with yourself:
· What do you already know about yourself?
· What are your interests?
· Is there something you’re particularly good at, or that you especially enjoy doing?
· What kind of personality or temperament do you have?
· What are you passionate about?
· What has your past experience taught you— through success or failure?
· What particular gifts do others recognize in you?
· What activities have you been affirmed in by others?
· What activities have made you feel most fulfilled?
Answering these questions helps us scout out our inner typography, to know who and what we are. Discerning vocation is a process of self-discovery. As you go deep into your past and present desires, you’ll begin to get a portrait of yourself, which is the first step toward discovering your vocation.
Take some time to think deeply on these questions. Start gathering data. Examine your past choices, and consider what they reveal about you. Ask your parents and friends what they see in you. You might journal about the answers you discover, to give focus to your thoughts. As you do this, ask God to teach and direct you.
God wants to be part of this process, because God wants us to become the people we were created to be. It’s not that God has a pre-determined, set plan in mind that we must discover and accept, whether we like it or not. It’s more that God has a deep yearning for our well-being that arises out of God’s great love for us. In this, God is like a good parent. Good parents don’t dictate the particular path their children must follow; rather, they hope that their children will find work that is meaningful and worthwhile, that they will use their gifts for the cause of good, and that they will experience happiness and fulfillment – no matter what particular path they choose. So too, God’s chief concern is not whether we live in Poughkeepsie or Des Moines, whether we practice law or run a business, or whether we marry or remain single. God’s chief concern is that we discover life – the life we were created to live – and that we live that life as fully and as completely as we can.
Take some time to reflect on the questions above. Next week, we’ll talk about how to know if, in our answers, we’re responding to God’s yearning or ours.
david thanks for your discernment in prayer :discovering your vocation. it makes you stop and think what you are doing and is it to the best of your ability. i also think God does not give you more than you can handle. i like the way you describe things as you do not speak above peoples head and i can understand what you are explaining to us. jane
I am on this journey right now to discovering my vocation(s), and it’s the most exciting and, at times, scariest, adventure I’ve ever been on. Answering “Here I am, Lord, send me” in seeking your vocation, I’m finding that possessing that willingness helps answer these questions. I’m also finding that these are helping me:
First, go to a different place to consider these questions. A new place can provide a different perspective on these questions–whether time at monastery/retreat center or a corner table at a different Starbucks. I try to take an annual personal retreat every year (Lord willing).
Be open to the answers that you may not expect or the obvious. it’s always easy for me to jump to the extreme. For example, I believe I have a calling towards a contemplative spirituality; but that does not mean that I can only contemplate as a member in a religious community. So I am currently seeking a spiritual director and seeking to incorporate this discipline into my every day life.
Your answers can change over time. My answers today are different from five years ago and may be different from how I’d answer ten years from now. I am growing, learning, and experiencing all the blessings and lessons that life offers. So my answers for today are okay. No right or wrong. There always another page in the journal to re-answer. (And in mercy and grace, God always allows do-overs.)
Now I have go answer brother David’s questions…. great follow-up having just returned from my own retreat. 🙂
From childhood on, brushes with certain other people seems to have been a key to my vocational discernment. Doesn’t it seem true that contact with people whose vocation attracts you and who you might feel compelled to model yourself on influences your own sense of calling, and even shapes your imagination of what vocations there might be? Doesn’t just the existence of these people and your proximity to them give you a special courage to follow a similar path – and to stick it out? (I mean contact with someone who leaves a deep and lasting impression, not necessarily an informational interview with a networking lead.) Without this personal encounter, how do we find a path we don’t even know is there, but one which might offer the fullest expression of our calling in terms of our own desire and in meeting a need in the world? Is there a way we can increase the odds of such encounters? Do we just have to be ready, ask and let grace work? In the meantime, is it enough to know ourselves, trust our sense that there must be more for us to do and follow the brightest light around?