for a vocation promotion sharing @ the Church of the Nativity, 7 May 2017
Can you imagine me in a wedding gown walking down the aisle? That was what I was heading towards with my wedding plans all in place. Travelling almost every school holiday as a teacher, a job that paid enough for my lifestyle. I was happy. Or so I thought. Inside me, I harboured a lot of bitterness and resentment. And I made life quite miserable for many who crossed my path. Discernment was unknown to me and religious life never crossed my mind.
June 2010 – I went with my church choir for a choral competition and then a short pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi, where I had a radical conversion. I experienced God again in a very profound and unforgettable way after 10 years of not praying daily. My relationship with my fiancé at that time was also quite unstable. I decided to find out what God is calling me to before I enter marriage and regret for the rest of my life if that’s not what His call is for me. So I returned, and with the help of Msgr Philip Heng, SJ, who taught me about discernment, I got my answer in 2 months. God was calling me to the religious life. So I took steps to break the engagement, cancel the wedding plans, settle the forfeitures I had incurred.
4 years of searching for a congregation, finding answers, trying to hold my life still in my hands. No answers came. I became disillusioned, angry with God. I was anxious, ashamed, fearful of what others may think of me especially since I broke up my engagement for religious life. After a discernment retreat, I decided to be a lay person; God was not calling me to this life anymore.
One day, I had a conversation with Sr Elizabeth (Gd Shepherd Sr). When I walked into Oasis retreat house in the Good Shepherd compound, I felt peace. From then, the desire grew in me to return to that place. This time, being relaxed, without needing to squeeze out any answers from God or from myself, I was more ready to live out the Ignatian Spirituality and rules of discernment that I came to learn and fall in love with. I continued my daily life but watched more closely the inner movements in me - the growing desire and attraction towards the Rgs, which I did not understand why. After some time, when the desire did not fade away, I knew something was up. So I contacted the congregation.
It has been 2 years, 5 months since I moved into the Rgs as aspirant and am now a postulant. There were many times I tried to run away from the call still and there were many reasons to justify it. The call became blurred and I was confused if God's still calling me to this. I made a retreat in February, during which Jesus even told me it’s okay to leave, that He understands and will love me still. But I found myself saying to Him it’s not okay to me; not okay that I give Him anything less than my best. Because I love Him, despite this love being so minute, it is, by grace, enough to make me unable to say “no” to Him. And again by grace, I eventually gave in. And this time, I’m not turning back again.