When our modern ears hear the word “discern” we think of its modern definition to see, perceive or distinguish; but in Latin “discernere” literally means to separate, set apart, or divide. The Latin is more active than what we normally think of as discernment. Therefore, rather than simply discerning your vocation (seeking to know the answer), instead try exploring your vocation. When you explore something you are active not passive. When you explore something you don’t quite know what you are going to encounter, this is why we explore. Finally, when you explore something there is no expectation that you will get it right the first time.
The Basic Steps of Exploring your vocation
A vocation is all about love. It is a life of love in a concrete, particular form that comes from God. Each vocation begins with His love for us. In that love for you He is calling you to a particular form of life. This love involves first His total gift of Himself to you, and then in response your total gift of self to Him. Christ our Lord tells us in the Gospel according to St. John, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (Jn 15:16). His choice for you is what makes a vocation different from an “occupation” or a “career”. You can choose an occupation or a career for yourself, but a vocation (from the Latin vocare, “to call”) is HIS choice for you and which He invites you to undertake for love of Him. Often we are taught to ask, “What do I want to do in the future?” or “What life will I choose?” The better way to think is, “What does Jesus want for me?”, “What life will bring Jesus the greatest glory?” and ultimately to say, “I want what Jesus wants.”
A vocation is the particular life He has chosen for you, and for which He has specifically created you. He is God and therefore knows which life will best bring about your salvation, your happiness, and His greatest glory. His call will completely fulfill you as a woman. A vocation means to be sent by Jesus on a mission to help Him bring His salvation to the world, and so will call for much love, dedication and sacrifice on your part, made possible by the grace of God. The key to discovering your vocation is first to allow Jesus to show His merciful love to you. This love will make you capable of loving Him in return.
It is vital to discover your vocation precisely because your fulfillment, happiness, and ultimately your salvation depend on accepting that plan which God has known from time immemorial. The following are the basic steps of exploring your vocation.