Through prayer, God revealed to me this time would come. He spoke encouraging words, restoring hope. Our Lord told me I’d bring light to a dark place. Four years later, I still bare some dark spots. In the midst of the dim light, He is kindly asking me to share. So, I will.

She began with the image of a bird. Sister V. described married life like a bird with its wing tied to another’s. She explained to me that if I bound my life to a man, I would never fly. I was doomed to stay on the ground while other birds soared. As I type this, tears are streaming down my face like they did that day. My heart was broken.

Growing up, my family was involved with a religious community that believed (wrongly) that everyone should become celibate. Back then, we had no idea how twisted some of their teachings were. At 14, I was convinced I was going to become a religious sister. Maybe that sounds extremely holy, but my desires weren’t from the heart. I longed to be loved by God. If HE wanted me celibate, I would do so.

During my junior year of high school, I began to spend time around holy couples. The Life Teen group I was involved with had a few sets of incredible parents and beautiful children. I remember sitting back in wonder and deep longing like I never experienced before. Marriage looked beautiful. Up until that point, I looked at married life as less-than (compared to religious) and unnecessary.

I began to dream of family life. Every time I witnessed a young holy family, my heart literally ached. The very thought of being a mother penetrated my soul.

Then the panic attack happened. As I sat with my mom, I folded laundry and watched an interview with Dominican sisters of St. Cecilia (I vividly remember the moment). My heart began to race, cold sweats covered my body, and I got choked up. All I could think was; “God is going to make me do that”. Maybe that sounds dramatic and bizarre, but my world shattered in that moment.

I began to experience extreme feelings of guilt. Within a month, I lost almost 20lbs, my joy, and my love for Christ. After years of believing I’d be a sister, I realized I didn’t want to. I felt selfish and embarrassed that I couldn’t give everything to God. I felt alone.

In my confusion, I went and spoke with a sister from the community I learned to trust. Along with the words I previously wrote above, a priest looked me in the eyes and said, “Just because you’re like your mother does not mean you’ll be one.” Obviously, this made my heart even more confused and anxious.

I suffered (and continue to suffer) vocational stress. God has blessed me with the Dominicans here in Nashville and their love has helped heal my heart. As light shone into my life the past four years, I see that I am not alone. Many catholic women are seriously hurting from unnecessary guilt and distress about their future. In the past four months, I have spoken with or heard of 20 women who are panicked. I want you to know, you’re not alone. This type of stress is attacking the Catholic Church in a big way.

Would you like the truth? The anxious tightness you feel in your chest is not of God. As a woman who battles an anxiety disorder, I know the physical signs of an oncoming panic attack. The good and gracious Lord of the universe does not speak in fear and disquiet. I sit here and write this blog, knowing He has called me to. The Heavenly Father desires freedom for you.

Look at your tears. The moments when joy overflowed and tears of relief hit the floor — that was God.

In the times of peace and conviction — those were promptings of the Holy Spirit.

I look back on the instances where I prayed about leaving college, becoming a missionary, moving to Nashville, and now my prayers about music ministry. I hold fast to those precious times. In those moments, I heard God’s voice.

Our Lord moved in December of 2013. During an 8-day silent retreat, I seriously took the vocation stress to prayer. During those blessed days, God showed me true freedom in His loving arms. I wrote a song, my calling to family life was confirmed, and I finally gave my heart completely to Him. The peace I thought I’d lost was restored. Not because I knew what He planned for me, but because the calling came with abundant joy.

God desires your joy. I promise you, whatever you are called to, it will come with peace. Keep in mind: you are powerful for the Kingdom. Satan will use whatever he can to frighten you. Whether you’re supposed to take that job, date that guy, try out that religious order, move to that place, write that book, go to that school, whatever it is, God will speak only in peace and love for you.

While Sister V. said I’d be less as a mother and wife, I realize now the brokenness in her belief. My wingspan is not measured by whether or not I choose religious life. God’s plan will bless me with flight; my true calling gives me wings to soar.

Image by Jin Thai, CC 2.0, Logo added

About the Author

Asia-Lyn James

Hello, my name is Asia-Lyn. Yes, I am named after a continent. I was home-schooled all through grade school (yes, I have friends) and thankfully posses social skills (sometimes). Roses are my favorite, puns make me laugh, I enjoy a good climbing tree, and prefer pie over cake. After studying music in college for two years, God beautifully wrecked my life and called me into Life Teen Missions.