I said yes to becoming a nun.
I’ll admit it took a while to sink in with me, my family, and my friends. Growing up, I didn’t exactly reflect the pious image one would imagine a nun to exude. Nevertheless, I hope my story encourages you on your own calling journey, even if you don’t feel called to a religious life of celibacy.
Nowadays, in my work with clients, some of the most frequent questions are:
- What is my calling?
- How do I know I should be doing that?
- How do I find my calling?
- I feel called to doing X but I’m not sure I’ll be good enough.
- I know I’m called to be X, but I’m afraid/ I don’t know where to begin.
If you’ve ever asked yourself similar questions, welcome. It’s for you I’m writing my story. So, pour yourself a cup of tea and allow me to pull back the curtain on this part of my life.
The call – how I said yes to becoming a nun
At 13 years old, I received The Call.
To be clear, I didn’t hear a voice, or receive anything tangible or audible. It was more a sense of deeper knowing.
Deep in my soul, I knew. God has asked me a question. And I knew that this call needed a response. That much was crystal clear.
What was less clear was what to respond.
Visualise this: I’m 13 years old when this happens. Living in a time where teens are nothing like Gen Z. We kids born in the 80s don’t know iPads, Addison Rae, or TikTok. My playtime involves combing the long blond hair of my Barbie doll, or those of my Little Poney toys. In my spare time, I’d write in my diary with my secrets safely guarded by a golden padlock.
One day, I’m sitting crossed-legged on the laminated wooden parquet of my bedroom, with a candle flickering by my knee. Gregorian chants are blasting from my black portable stereo (my cassette during prayer time). I feel God’s presence so much it overwhelms me and I practice silence.
“Renonces à tout“
My soul knew he had said this.
I understood it to be some sort of question, a statement that needed an answer from me.
It felt like he was asking me whether I’d be willing to give up everything and follow him, to be a disciple and to encourage other disciples on their journey.
Me? A nun?
At 13 years old, this was the deepest, most bizarre question I ever heard.
It did not make sense why of all the young girls in the whole wide world, he would call me and ask me such a thing. (Yes the audacity! 🙈).
Back then, I had a limited knowledge about what it meant to give up everything. For me, as a young Catholic girl, it was either to be a priest or a nun. If I’m a boy then priest it is, but as I’m a girl, it has to be a nun. So I felt God was asking me to be a nun, even though it confused me.
As a young teen, my priorities were clear. Saved by the Bell, my friends, classmates’ birthday parties, my boy crushes (Worlds Apart, Take That, Backstreet Boys, N-Sync, 3T, 2BeFree…) and school (English, my fave subject). Yes, I loved school and homework. I had high hopes of an academic future.
Some of the thoughts going in my teen mind at the time:
- I love chandelier earrings. Big hoops, colourful and glittery ones.
- I am cool (at least, I’m trying my hardest to be).
Therefore, I said: ‘No way’. God, no. No.
I can’t do this for the reasons aforementioned.
Then, I pushed this conversation at the far back of my mind.
Discerning my calling
I pondered the cost of everything I had to give up in order to obey God. It was a lot for me to digest.
Over the next three years, I wrestled with this calling. After each mass, I’d patiently wait for every person to leave and ask the priest questions. In between school periods, I sought out the Loretto sisters teaching at my school.
First, I asked questions. Lots and lots of them. To them. To God.
Second, I listened. Hooked on every word, reading between the nuances. And reading God’s Word.
Third, God placed a mentor on my path.
Lastly, I had many things to unlearn as well as learn in order to discern my calling. I took this seriously – made space in my calendar, focused on it, and made it my priority.
The joy in surrender
In short, I decided to obey God. This is how my adventure started.
I said yes to becoming a nun. For 2-3 years, I joined Groupe de Recherche to lead to Etape Foyer, then joined a spiritual retreat in an abbey in France. All the way, I kept saying yes, yes, yes.
There’s a lot of sacrifice involved. A lot of denying my own desires to align with what God wants me to be and do in this lifetime.
That’s the thing about following your calling. It will cost you a lot.
Some people will make fun of you, others won’t believe you’ll go through with it. The worst however is that you might doubt yourself and feel unqualified. You have much to lose.
But as you’re about to read, there’s great joy to gain.
It’s what makes the calling journey worth it.
One door closes, another opens
In my late thirties, I met a wonderful man who is now my husband. Together, we travel the world and live nomadically. It’s my way to partner with God in this life.
As you can see, I never did become a nun. That door closed and God showed me that it was not what he had asked of me.
When I set about to following my calling, going all in, I learned many lessons. I also grew a lot. I developed my sense of hearing from God, recognising his voice, and being obedient.
You see, all along God wasn’t so much interested in me being a nun or not. He was always after my whole heart to surrender to him, to bend my plans for his.
When I made him priority above all else in my life, the journey became easier in the sense that I didn’t care what following him looked like. I didn’t care for my appearance, my image, my earrings or my own desires. His desires, his plans for me grew bigger in my own heart, and mine became less enticing.
Along with that, you get joy, pleasure in delighting in him, and being highly favoured.
In one sentence, it’s to BE the new creation you are in Christ.
What’s a calling about? Just say yes, follow it. I followed mine and it led me on so many beautiful adventures. There’s freedom in that.
The rest will follow and flow.
Your calling isn’t a destination, rather it’s an invitation to embark on a beautiful adventure. It can be devoting yourself to the very thing in front of you.
It can look like blooming where you already are. Are you a wife? Do you manage a home and a company? Bloom. You might feel like you’re unqualified and not at all perfect for whatever role you’re being called to take on.
But take heart, dear one, God not only does the calling, he also equips us.