What am I called to when I feel like I am without a call?
Young adults in transition, I know you.
You are most likely single. You don’t feel called to married life, religious life, or even a movement in the Church, though you are open to it. Or you feel called to a certain vocation, but haven’t found the person, community, or movement that inspires you yet.
You are working. You like your job, but you’re not sure if it’s where you are supposed to be forever.
You feel a lack of connection to your faith. Though it was strong with the support of a vibrant community in college, you’ve felt isolated since you’ve entered the professional world.
Your prayer life is a little dry. You have been hammering out the “Litany of Trust,” but God seems silent. Your life seems to consist of a lot of questions without answers. “Where am I supposed to live?” “What am I supposed to do?” “Who am I supposed to be?” And frequently: “God, where are you? Why won’t you tell me what you want from me?”
Struggling to find your call? You’re not alone.
I know you because I am you. You are not alone in the loneliness, the frustration, and confusion. In fact, a 2014 PEW Research study found that among 18-29 year old Catholics, about 67% are in this season where God’s answer to us is, “Not yet.”
In a recent lunch date with a friend, I asked her, “What is the call of the young adult whose vocation has perhaps not yet been revealed? What does God ask of them in this season of waiting?”
As it turns out, Sr. Liz Sjoberg was the right person to ask. The Daughter of Charity shared an understanding of my struggle. “In His silence, Jesus’s answer to those in this period of waiting seems to be ‘not yet.’”
In her intimacy with the Heart of Jesus, Sr. Liz gave a beautiful answer to my questions on, what she affectionately calls, the “Season of Not Yet.”
Here’s what you’re called to right now
Right Now (A Call to the Present)
“As hard as it might seem,” she began, “being present to the moment and being present to your own life is really really important.” She reminded of me of the trap that so often I find myself stuck inside: either I am living in the past or worried about the future which keeps me from being present in the moment. It’s in this place that we become mentally and emotionally paralyzed.
So to release ourselves from this trap?
“You come back to where God is, which is in the present moment. God is the eternal now. He is right here, now, and if we are constantly looking for him somewhere else, then we are missing him in the moment, which is right here.”
She went on to say that it may be that so many of us who are busying ourselves, looking for that “big V, vocation,” that we are missing the call that is “right now.” How easily we can miss who or what God is calling us to in the moment when we are hyper focused on where we think God is leading us.
Instead we should ask ourselves: “Who is in my life that needs me?” “What has God put in my life right now?” “What can I be doing to serve others?” “What is God asking of me right now?”
So, what is God asking of me right now? Sister Sjoberg says, “the biggest thing God is asking of young adults right now, is patience.”
Learning Another Attribute of God (A Call to Patience)
We both laugh when she mentions God’s call to patience.
“I know,” she says, “It’s like the worst answer that anyone wants to hear. Nobody wants to hear about patience! Everyone wants to hear about holiness, call, and vocation, but no, its patience!
‘I want to know who my spouse is!’ No! Patience.
‘I want to be ordained!’ Hello? Seminary is 7 years before ordination! Patience.”
A trial we all must face it seems. So why is it that the young adult is called to patience in this season? What is it that God wants to do in our hearts?
“God teaches us patience, so that we can have patience for others. Whatever life call someone has, it involves people. We have to learn about this attribute of God. He is eternally patient with us.”
We live in a culture of convenience where we get upset over a dropped call or slow internet connection. We need to learn patience.
“Patience teaches us how to love God and how to love other people, and how we love God and how we love people is our vocation.”
Time and Freedom (A Call to Service)
She then addressed a danger that many of us fall into as we discern our vocation. “We tend to get very closed in on ourselves asking the questions of ‘how am I feeling?’ ‘what is my call?’ ‘how are things with me?’ ‘‘how do I feel about God?’ and ‘why is he ignoring me?’ – whatever the feeling might be in that moment and it becomes very self focused. We are concerned about our own selves to the detriment of service to other people.”
So in response to this feeling of loneliness and isolation perpetuated by over-self-analysis or frustration at the “not yet,” “the remedy is to get out of myself by giving myself to others. It is very hard to be frustrated with my own life, when I am with someone who has it way worse than me.”
The freedom of the young adult is that we can be present to those in need. Sr. Sjoberg gave the example of Thanksgiving day. “You’re not the one baking the turkey! You can go down to the soup kitchen and work a shift. Not everyone has the freedom to get up early and go do that, where there are young adults out there who can. There is a gift in that which is unique to the young adult, and unique to that transition time.”
A Unique Invitation (A Call to Intimacy)
And in my prayer? Sr. Liz said the invitation is to come to know Christ in a new way: To unite ourselves with the person of Jesus as he was as a young adult in transition.
“The young adult can have a unique relationship with Jesus. He was a young man who felt a call. He wasn’t living at home with his parents. He wasn’t a priest in the way that we know them today. He was a single guy, out in the world. It’s interesting to ask yourself, how am I like Jesus right now? What does Jesus have to say to me about this time?
We have a lot to learn from the life of Jesus, and maybe the young adult in transition can feel more connected to the “hidden life” of Jesus. “When no one is throwing you a bachelor party or a baby shower, that’s the hidden life of Jesus!”
“There can be, if we let it, a very intimate time with Jesus.”
The Sacramental Life (A Call to the Sacraments)
Anything else that we are called to in this time? She couldn’t pass up one final call.
“I can’t not say closeness to the sacraments or prayer. I don’t care what life you’re in. We are never going to be able to find our call or our daily call, our ‘big “V” vocation, or our daily, weekly, or monthly calls, if we are not taking the time for those two things.”
Life in Community (A Call to Discern)
She was already answering my final question. How can we continue to discern our vocation in this time?
“Obviously a closeness to the Sacraments and prayer, but also having like-minded individuals in your life is really important. So whether that’s a young adult group, volunteering at a parish with a youth group, getting involved with a different movement, lay association, or third order – even looking into those things is a way to enrich our lives. You may not feel called to those movements, but there is always something we can learn from those people and the way that they pray.”
So having good friends, having a spiritual director, even good co-workers are important. From personal experience, these communities have been able to hold up a mirror to my heart, my desires, and my gifts to show me where God is working in my life and leading me in my vocation.
This is a time to embrace
Young adult in transition, since I know you so well, I also know that you have a tendency to look ahead in expectation. You probably think a lot of: “once I get there” and “when I’m finally in my vocation.”
Take heart in Sr. Liz’s final message to you.
“Don’t be in a rush. God is faithful. If you think we are trying to grow in patience in this time, God has spent millennia in patience waiting for this moment of our lives to speak to us.”
“God is eternally patient. He loves us. He is not going to let us down. This doesn’t mean we get what we want all the time, but it means when our heart is in the right place, when we are seeking the Lord’s will, when we are doing everything we can to be united to him, and saying ‘Here I am,’ God honors that.”
And this time of transition, this season of “not yet”, is not wasted. “This is not a throw away time. It can be a tremendous time of growth.”
Who is Sr. Liz Sjoberg? Learn more about Sister’s story here.
Learn more about the Daughters of Charity here.
Check out a collaborative music project that Sister Liz was involved with called “Music Inspires” here.