" Peter said to him in reply, 'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.'
He said, 'Come.' Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus."
- Matthew 14:28-29
I started rising early to pray on my first morning home from retreat. I found a new notebook to record any Scripture passages I liked, as well as any thoughts I received from the Lord.
As I prayed, I wrote down the four ways of discernment Sr. Emma had taught me:
"Well, I'm meditating on God's word right now," I said to myself. "So far, so good."
In reality, I kept nodding asleep over my notebook, but hopefully I'd get points for trying.
I'd also received some godly counsel. The retreat master told me during confession, “God is calling you to radical change.” When I told my older sister I was discerning religious life, she said I had the “right disposition for it."
And my conscience? I knew what I heard there as well, although I wasn't sure if I should trust it.
I shifted impatiently in my kneeling position beside my bed.
"Don't worry about that right now," I muttered. "What do you think your conscience is saying?"
Holding my notebook close, to keep any imaginary people from reading it, I wrote: In my heart, I feel the Lord is calling me to the convent - to become a Bride of Christ.
I stared at the words I had written. The idea filled me with joy and hope. But if I acted on my belief, I'd have to change everything about my current way of life.
Get Out of the Boat
As I continued to pray and discern, I decided to ask my dad for advice. He was the one who first encouraged me as a teenager to pray about my vocation.
“I don't think the Lord wants me in Kentucky anymore,” I told him over the phone. “But how can I give up my job?”
My job. My full-time, hard-earned public affairs specialist position at Blue Grass Army Depot. The one I received after 15 months of job searching and 18 months of internship training. The one with a salary, benefits, health insurance, and retirement savings. The one that meant I could have a career in any available Army PAO position--if I just held onto this job a little longer, gained a little more experience, continued applying for other openings on USAJobs.
True, this particular position, which had started off so promising, was now making me very unhappy. I was originally hired to write and edit the Depot newsletter, The Detonator. However, other responsibilities were slowly added to my position: writing press releases, radio show scripts, speeches, community relations work, etc., My position became especially stressful when we began communicating to the workforce about a new Depot reorganization. Government military funding had decreased, which meant some Depot employees would lose their jobs. Tensions at work were high, and the days were long and disheartening.
So I wanted a change--but I didn't want to give up everything I'd worked so hard to achieve.
"After going on retreat, I think God wants me to do something totally new, Dad," I continued. "But I'm not sure what to do next. Should I just keep applying for public affairs jobs somewhere else?"
To me, this seemed like the safest and most reasonable course of action. The kind of thing my dad would advise me to do -- to stay the course, and wait for a better opportunity.
What he said instead came as something of a shock.
"Mary," he announced, in a bold voice. He was having a "Holy Spirit" moment, I could tell. "You know the Lord is calling you right now. It's time to get out of the boat and walk on the water!"
I didn't have everything figured out yet. I didn’t know where God wanted me to be, even by the end of the year. At the beginning of April, I wasn't even certain if God was calling me to religious life yet, or just to "radical change".
But I knew He didn’t want me in Richmond, Kentucky.
So, with my dad’s encouragement, I took a leap of faith: I quit my job.
The day after my dad's phone call, I wrote a letter for my boss, giving him my one month’s notice. My reasons? Leaving to discern religious life and (hopefully) join Saint Cecilia’s.
My boss, God bless him, was supportive. My other coworkers, however, tried to talk me out of it.
“You’re obviously called to be married,” the Commander’s assistant told me.
“You should wait until you’ve been in the Army three years, Mary,” said another coworker and friend. “That way you can keep special privileges if you decide to come back.”
I'd have three years working with the Army if I stayed until September. But God wasn’t calling me to leave in the fall. He was calling me right now.
“Mary’s joining the sisterhood,” my boss told everyone at my farewell party. He’d prepared a savory barbecue meal and a delicious cake for the occasion. All my coworkers came, shook my hands, said kind words. I felt nervous, excited. Yet, I had a peace about the whole thing, no matter how awkward it was to explain such a calling to everyone else at work.
I’d just taken a huge risk to follow God’s plan, even gave Him my most precious earthly treasure: my full-time job.
Thanks so much for reading! Join me next week as I begin a whirlwind discernment adventure, to St. Louis, Nashville, and beyond!
About the Author:
Mary Rose Kreger lives in the metro Detroit area with her family, where she writes fantasy tales for teens, and blogs about her spiritual journey: before, during, and after the convent. Mary also shares faith-based poems and fantasy quotes on her Instagram account, @faithandfantasy1.