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The Unfulfilled Vocation

December 13th, 2013by Wayne Topp

prayerThe story goes something like this (and I’m changing some of the details because I haven’t gotten permission from this person to use the story): There was a young man who worked closely with young people and taught them about our Catholic faith. He shared with them about the Church’s teachings on vocation and doing God’s will, and all the while, he felt like he was being called to the married life and, at the same time, that he may never be married. He had discerned religious life and came to realize, through prayer and spiritual direction, that he was not called to the priesthood or religious life. He realized that one could be called to the single life, but again, knew that he was not. However, he also realized that he was starting to get a little older and had not had any serious relationships. Thus, he was struggling to really believe what he was saying to these young people.

He was feeling called to a vocation and felt very much unfulfilled in his current state in life. So, what does that mean? What happens when we realize our vocation and we don’t see it being fulfilled? Is God putting this desire and this call on our hearts but, in not making it possible to fulfill, actually calling us to suffer in our unfulfilled call for an indefinite amount of time? These are very difficult questions.

The simple answer to this young man is that God doesn’t give us a vocation that he cannot fulfill in our lives. God has created us for a definite purpose and has set for us a path that he invites us to walk. Along that path are the people we are meant to touch. Sometimes our paths can be confusing, and with so many paths diverging and converging, it is sometimes difficult to know which one is ours. However, if we continue to seek God’s will and persevere in our faithfulness and trust, our specific vocation will be fulfilled (even if it is in a time that doesn’t seem to match our own). In the married vocation, we also need to recognize that this is a vocation to which two are called to become one. Sometimes the man or woman we are called to join in marriage needs also to realize he or she is called to marriage (or maybe he or she just needs to find the grace to make that leap of faith in beginning a relationship with you- or vice versa). For that time that we are waiting and searching, there may be some suffering involved, but that we can offer for the benefit of our future spouse. The same is true for one who is entering a religious vocation. The Church is also in discernment about your vocation and it requires both the individual to answer the call and the Church to affirm that call.

Ultimately, a vocation is a gift from God and we realize our vocation through prayer, perseverance, patience and trust. But we do not discern our vocation alone; we need the support of the Church and the confirmation of the ones we love to help us along the way.  In the meantime, we must always continue to seek and serve God’s will for our lives. If we are single, we serve God as a single person even if we are not called to be single for the rest of our days. If we are married, we serve as married people; if ordained, as ordained ministers; etc. You get the picture. In this case, the young man was right, he was called to marriage and is now married and the happy couple now has their first child.

Wayne Topp

Wayne Topp is the Associate Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He is married with 4 beautiful children and is a parishioner at Our Lady of Victory in Delhi Township.