Discerning and living one’s vocation is the greatest challenge of living life to the fullest. You cannot just sit on the couch and wait for life to happen.
The days follow one another and, without realizing it, the challenge of reading and writing gives way to the challenge of understanding other languages. The challenge of knowing the multiplication table becomes a struggle to determine the value of x, an increasingly difficult math! On a personal level, the same thing happens: the great difficulties of other times now seem simple and often almost meaningless to us.
However, the challenges facing us today remain giant monsters that we think are almost impossible to overcome. One day, today’s struggles will seem like small swims and we will find our present fears almost ridiculous.
Life consists of a tangle of ups and downs that always put us to the test, whatever our decisions and/or life choices are. In fact, we always strive to achieve what is best for us as much as possible, and we ideally want to reach the goal without obstacles or great strain. But life always brings unpredictable surprises— unexpected difficulties that show up when we make decisions and results that often would not even occur to us!
What should we do? How do we make life choices in the face of so many possibilities and difficulties? How can we be happy if all our choices seem to get in the way and dismay some of those we love? Are not our choices a selfish way of positioning ourselves in life?
These concerns and questions cross our daily lives and are present especially at the crucial moments of choosing. However, we must keep in mind some fundamental principles that free us from some fears and strings that insist on conditioning our decisions.
First, if life is to be lived, burying your head in the sand is no option. We really have to choose! It is not about selfishness, but about living our best life, not only for ourselves but also for those we love. Secondly, we are mature enough to realize that there is no such thing as an easy way.
Life is always a challenge and struggle full of obstacles. So, since we have to live and deal with the difficulties of the way of life, why not walk a path according to what we consider to be our vocation – our path towards a fulfilling life? At least in this case, we will be struggling and sweating for what we believe and love. Once again, this is not selfishness! The people we love and who really love us want us to be truly happy.
By overcoming obstacles to this happiness, we are fulfilling the deepest desire that dwells in us and resides in the hearts of those who love us, even though not everyone can see it at first.
The life we dream of is a life where we continually discover something about ourselves. It will not matter how many disagree with our choices. What matters is how far we want our lives to be life-giving and fruitful in the world in which we live in. Admittedly, when we dream big, we cannot escape setbacks and obstacles. If simple choices also bring difficulties, anguish, frustration, and unhappiness, why not choose to take a path towards a more fulfilling life?
Living our vocation is the greatest challenge of living a full life. We cannot, therefore, sit on the couch waiting for life to happen. We have to make it happen. We have to understand that vocation is not “the fruit of meaningless chaos, but, on the contrary, everything can be inserted in a path of response to the Lord, who has a stupendous project for us.” (Apostolic Exhortation Christ Lives, no. 248) So why become discouraged or apathetic to the present and the future if God remains with us and is our trump card to overcome all difficulties?
As we realize this dynamism of vocation, we are called to respond, that is, to set foot on the path that we want, discerning whether we chose that path because of our deepest fears and anxieties, or because it is the path that God laid out for us, the path where we can fully realize our deepest desires and be who we truly are.
In this sense, the first major decision to make is to embark on a journey to discover what we think is our path. This decision always implies concrete steps. These steps are necessary in order to meet those who can credibly help us to understand whether the path we are taking will lead us to the happiness and fulfilment of life we desire.
We often feel lost when we have to take these first steps since we do not know which way to go. But is this feeling the result of our fear of deciding or our fear of failing to choose? If we look well, for example, at a vocational level, we would know how to choose: if we have more inclination for classical studies, obviously, we will not go to mathematics! Likewise, by exclusion of parts, deep down we know what the first step in the vocational path requires. So why not dare to decide?
To live decisively is to dare to fight for what we believe in our daily lives. This implies weighing each decision, but it also means refusing to live indifferently, adrift from the opinions of those around us. Living decisively entails responsibility— free, bold, mature options that can colour our lives and the world in which we live. (Susana Vilas Boas, Lay Comboni Missionary)