Broken promises?

This is a post from the past, which I am dedicating to all of my “wannabe nuns” ย friends out there. (You know who you are :)) Please fess up in the combox!

I was reading some Facebook comments tonight, and one woman wrote that she had always felt she should have been a nun, and that she still regrets every single day that she did not follow-up on that desire.

That made me smile. After my adult conversion, I too wanted to be a nun, but there was one problem: I was married. I spent a couple of years mourning my lost vocation, before it occurred to me that Our Lord would have timed things differently if He had really wanted me to be a nun.

All of this reminded me of something I was thinking about during Eucharistic Adoration today.

I have recently been going through items I have kept for years, like greeting cards and pictures, and my stack of prayer journals. The latter go back thirty years, and flipping through them re-acquaints me with someone I no longer am.

There are so many resolutions in those journals, so many promises to the Lord to do great things for Him, so very many lists of virtues to practice, faults to overcome and new and better prayer schedules.

There are pages written while awash in consolations or on a weekend retreat…words splashed across pages filled with fervor and wonder and exclamations of love.

Have you ever done this? Have you ever promised the Lord everything…your whole life, every moment just for Him, no turning back, no old ways. And you meant it, with every beat of your heart…at the time. No string of adjectives could express what you felt, nor could there be too many exclamation points! Have you…ever?

I must confess to feeling some sadness and regret, as I leafed through hundreds of pages written by a much more idealistic and passionate young woman than the person I am today. And of course, I have not kept all of those well-meaning promises or become that warrior for the Lord…or fulfilled my long ago dream of echoing the heart of my beloved Therese.

“What about all of this Lord?” I found myself wondering today, when I realized that I had not even kept most of the resolutions written in this year’s journal.

And Jesus seemed to say: But you meant them at the time, didn’t you? Don’t you know that I am listening to your heart at every moment, and I accept every good intention, every act of love, every desire you have for Me and My Glory? Nothing meant for good is ever lost. Without you realizing it, I have planted within your soul, a kernel, a seed of all that you have ever offered to me, and in My Own Time, I bring forth the harvest.

I was truly comforted by these thoughts, which seemed to lift a burden from me…the impossible burden of being perfect, of remembering every promise, and of journeying in darkness and dryness of soul with the same flush of fervor experienced during my first encounter with my Lord, so many years ago.

Thank You, Jesus, for tending the garden of my soul. May it flower in Your Season. I love You!

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20 thoughts on “Broken promises?

  1. Patricia,

    I never wanted to be a nun, but I do make a lot of promises and then can never seem to muster up the strength to follow through. I offer God lots of words of love and then abandon Him whenever the going gets the least bit difficult. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Thanks for this post. It brought me a bit of badly needed encouragement today.

    • Anne, I am so very grateful that you found encouragement here today! You are definitely not alone with the “broken promises.” I really do believe that God looks at the desires and intentions of our hearts. He knows we are broken and wounded, and that we will often fail to keep our promises. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t have the best intentions, or that we don’t love Him very much. We are like little children who love their parents, and really do mean to be very good. But, they get distracted, or that candy was too tempting, etc. What I’ve learned from Therese is that it’s so very important not to get discouraged…that God is not offended by our weakness, but looks at our hearts. So often, our weary bodies cause us to fail, but our desire is always to love Him more. I asked Him for this during Holy Communion tonight: Let the remainder of my life be, a continual falling in love with You! Anne, He is already answering that prayer in your soul…it blazes up in your passion for His Sacred Heart. It’s all over your blog in your beautiful, deep, insightful posts. And…He gave you a seaglass heart to wear. How much He loves you!

      So, you passed on the nun thing? I think it’s somewhat of a romantic notion which many of us fantasize about after our first real encounter with Jesus. The first time I ran this post a year ago, quite a few wannabe’s owned up, and now today, there are some new ones ๐Ÿ™‚ God bless you, Anne!

  2. ME! ME! ME! (can you see me waving at you frantically?!) I always say if it could be done over again, I would have been a nun. Then I look at my sweet boys and incredible husband and think – ahhh…Out Lord wanted me to strive for Sainthood, look at the gifts He’s given me?

    God Bless you for helping Jesus tend the garden of my soul, dear Patricia.
    +xo

    • Cristina, yes, yes, I can see you! In fact, there are TWO of you…I had my eyes dilated at the doctor’s today ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so happy you could relate. I used to feel so guilty. But like you, I finally came to my senses. But, I gotta tell you that with your energy and all the projects you manage, you would probably have been elected Reverend Mother! And, I can just imagine your beautiful voice chanting the Office. As for me, I could never have kept “nun hours.” I am a night owl, and can barely survive the early morning hours of a weekend retreat. Still, it’s fun to imagine what it might have been like, and I am addicted to any and all nun movies. Sigh….

      The Sainthood you mentioned…even better than the monastery! And we are still in the running for that ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for joining in the fun, Cristina!
      You garden is so very beautiful! Hugs to you too! xo

  3. OK, I’ll fess up~although after a week of living in community, I would probably be thrown out ๐Ÿ™‚ Perhaps hermitess is more my style.
    All kidding aside though, your post is beautiful, Patricia. I love those words that came to you during adoration. Nothing good is ever wasted with Jesus; He uses it all for His glory and our benefit.
    I am currently reading the life if Gemma Galgani~what an amazing young soul! She, like many of the saints thought they were the worst of sinners. All I keep thinking is if they are the worst, where does that leave me?!
    Thank God for His patience and mercy.
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful reflection.

    • I knew it! I knew you were one of “us.” lol! I once had a friend who wanted to be an anchoress. We had a lot of laughs about that one…where to wall her up, etc. She seriously thought she had a late vocation (40’s), and actually visited several monasteries before discerning religious life wasn’t her calling. I could do the hermitess thing too…make my own rules, stay up late, sleep late, etc. Oh, how holy I would be! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I love St. Gemma! I know what you mean about these pure and beautiful souls thinking they are great sinners, and even doing all kinds of penance to atone. I have often had your thought: Where does that leave me? That’s one of the things I like about reading Therese. She really didn’t constantly refer to herself as a great sinner. She knew quite well her nothingness and helplessness and complete dependence on God. But, she also knew that she had never committed even a single mortal sin. (Her confessor told her as much.)

      When I watch Women of Grace, Johnette comes up with all kinds of Saints who were once great sinners. Usually, they are Saints I’ve never heard of. Maybe I need to take notes…and read a bit more of St. Augustine! There’s hope for us too, Karin ๐Ÿ™‚

      But seriously, I’m so grateful that there are beautiful souls like Gemma, Therese, Faustina, Rose of Lima, etc., who offered to God such pure and almost unblemished lives. What miracles of grace they are! And He so deserves to be loved that way! Love and hugs…

  4. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this, Patricia! One of my greatest worries is that if I fail to discern the right vocation. I always thought I would give myself in marriage, but recently I’ve been wondering if I should be a consecrated virgin. Both options seem equally great, and I keep asking that the Lord send me a giant neon sign of a clue that cannot be mistaken, haha!

    • Hi Aelissa! Hmm, wouldn’t we all love some of those neon signs! But the Lord prefers to whisper instead. How wonderful that you have two such beautiful options before you! I’ve been hearing more about consecrated virginity over the past several years. That is such a precious option for women who don’t feel called to live in community, but still desire Jesus as their Spouse. I feel quite sure that God will reveal His Will to you in prayer…if not neon ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m excited for you that you still have such a blessed choice to discern. I’ll keep you in my prayers. Either way, Jesus will always be the Beloved of your soul.
      Thanks for sharing! xo

    • Thank you, Terry! You didn’t mention, but I’m guessing that with “8 kids” maybe you knew your vocation wasn’t the convent? ๐Ÿ™‚ But then, who can forget Maria VonTrapp? (although, I think I’ve forgotten how to spell her name! : ) Blessings, Terry. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. Oh, this is so me, on so many levels. I have gone back and read snippets of my journals of 30ish years ago and thought Oh My!! How zealous I sounded then! And really — I was. And really, I still am. I think it’s just that my initial zeal is sort of “tempered” now, by life and experience and just-plain-age. And I can definitely identify with the drawing to a nun’s life ๐Ÿ˜‰ . However, when I go on retreat in a monastery of nuns, I can see that this was never my call. I would never have been a fit. What IS a fit for me is the TOTAL gift of self to God I see in religious life. It is that to which I am called. Thank you for such a beautiful, inspiring post!

    • Nancy, there is something about youth and zeal and great big dreams, isn’t there? ๐Ÿ™‚ I remember the first time I read Therese’s autobiography when I was 25…nearly the same age as she was when she died. I didn’t realize her depth then, but I totally got hooked on her ideals and her desire to conquer the world for God, to be “everything” for Him. Of course, she actually did all those things, and I just got old…er lol.

      I totally agree with your beautifully worded comment. I don’t think one can live for decades and not be somewhat “tempered” by life and age. But I hope we still have a bit of the best of those young women in our hearts. That was such a precious time…the beginning of an eternal journey.

      Nancy, I could never have survived the convent either. I would have been off schedule, disorganized, unable to follow a structured prayer life, in bed with migraines,etc. etc. They would have kicked me out so fast!

      Anyway, I’m so glad you are out here with us, because you have so much to share…including laughter ๐Ÿ™‚ And for that, I am so very grateful! xoxo PS Somehow, we still love those nun movies! There’s just something about that life lived so obviously for God.

  6. God’s timing is so perfect. He loves us unconditionally no matter what stage of “vocation” we are in. When we can’t keep the promises we make it is He who keeps His. It is a gift to look back over the years and gratefully see the miraculous work He does in our lives and the lives of those around us. +JMJ+

    • When we can’t keep our promises, He keeps His.

      What a beautiful thought, Lora! And so true! I am always so grateful that He is in charge, because He never makes mistakes, and always does what’s perfect. How a great a God we have! He truly turns all into good for those who love HIm…even those forgotten promises! Thanks for your beautiful comment! Happy Feast of all Saints to you! .

  7. I wanted to be a cloistered religious, but found out that my age is an impediment, and now my health. I made a discernment retreat last year, heard God say ‘slow down’ and within a month came down with a serious illness! So, I’m waiting on Him now, knowing that as the years go by my choices will be narrowed further. But, His Will is my Will…

    Love your blog… we need to talk. In the interim, while I’m waiting for health issues to sort themselves out, I’ve been looking into 3rd orders, and thought of attending a Discalced Carmelite meeting. I’ll do my best to be at the next one and will look for you, if that’s okay!

    In Christ, Caye

    • Weclome Caye! Thank you so much for commenting. I had a friend who thought she might have a late vocation to a cloistered order, and she actually got invited to a few “come and sees.” She was in her late 40’s to early 50’s during that period. She eventually entered a Dominican monastery, but she had health problems and chose to leave. I think it’s wonderful that you are considering this! Keep praying, and God will let you know ๐Ÿ™‚ I know that the former Roslyn Moss, who is now Sister Miriam of the Lamb of God founded a new Order, and she claims to take vocations up to ninety! They aren’t entirely cloistered though, so don’t know if that would appeal to you. Have you heard of her? I think she herself is in her 60’s. There is hope!!!

      I would love to meet you at our OCDS meeting. You would arrive at 1:30pm, and be welcomed into the visitor’s group, which is also the aspirancy group, for those who decide to continue on. At 2:30pm, the meeting for the entire community begins. If you don’t see me before the meeting starts, I’m the secretary, so I’ll be the one reading the minutes. After the meeting, there is a refreshment period when we visit with one another.

      I have a few beautiful Carmelite blogs listed on my blogroll: desert of my heart, a solitary bird, and spirit singing. There are others out there, but I haven’t had time to list them yet. You might enjoy those I mentioned. Just click on the title in my blogroll.

      Please feel free to e-mail me, or leave any questions you have here on my blog. I assume you live in the same area as I do. God bless you, Caye! May God soon reveal His Will for you regarding your vocation. Thanks again for stopping by!

  8. Patricia,

    I have always been too scared to make big promises. When I was grieving after Thomas died someone gave me a prayer card with an self-offering written on it. The words told God that I would be willing to suffer without limit to order to save souls. There is nothing more important than saving a soul and that would be the aim of my life. I sat and read the words and kept saying, “You know I’m only reading the words, God. I’m not actually making the offering of myself.” I just wanted God to be sure of that point! ! I was too scared to offer myself as a victim soul. I had had enough of suffering. I yearned to feel happy. I felt so weak. Every time I feel an overwhelming desire to do great things for God, I am hesitant. I know it would involve much pain, and although I am also certain God would help me carry the burden, I just can’t do it. Even the words, “Make me a saint!” fill me with fear. I guess I am rather hopeless!

    • โ€œYou know Iโ€™m only reading the words, God. Iโ€™m not actually making the offering of myself.โ€

      Sue, I have said those same words to God while reading prayers similar to the one you mentioned. “Oh God, I’m just reading this; please don’t take me seriously.” And, He understands.

      I think there have been a few victim souls among us whom God has truly called to a vocation of suffering. But, they seem to know it, and He usually grants them great spiritual favors and consolations. Some of the great Saints are among them.

      One of the things “knowing” St. Therese did was to free me from that fear that I should be asking for yet more suffering. She said that she would never do that, because then she would be responsible for bearing it. She said that a little soul like herself would not be up to that. She preferred to allow God to choose which and how many sufferings He sent to her, and then He Himself would be “obligated” to give her the grace to carry those crosses.

      Sue, you are anything but “hopeless.” I think you are amazing. You suffered perhaps the greatest pain possible…the loss of a child. And then all of the babies who went to Heaven before you even got to meet them. You are such an inspiration to me…and I’m sure to countless others. The radiant faces of your children speak volumes about what kind of person you are. I plan to used you as a reference when I meet up with St. Peter ๐Ÿ™‚ Love you, my friend.

  9. Patricia,

    Even before you have published my last comment, I have had another thought! I often pray “Please make me love You more. ” Perhaps if God expands my heart I will lose my fear and not hesitate to offer myself for whatever God wants.

    • Sue, we must have read the same prayer book. “Please help me to love You more..” is one of my favorite prayers too, especially at Holy Communion. Surely, it’s a prayer God will not fail to answer! xoxox

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