Lent with St Edith Stein Day 12: When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan

Lent with St Edith Stein Day 12: When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan

“It may be considered as the direct sign of a special calling when one is pulled out of the course apparently given by birth and upbringing, or one personally hoped and striven for, and then thrown into an entirely different path.”

St Edith Stein, Spirituality of the Christian Woman

               We’ve discussed how woman in soul and body is designed for marriage and motherhood. That this vocation of family life makes the highest and best use of a woman’s natural gifts of empathy and development. So, what happens when a woman presents no resistance to this natural vocation, but still cannot attain it? Many women long to give themselves in the sacrament of marriage and yet remain single. Others long for motherhood but are incapable of having children. There are even those who long to join the religious life as a nun but circumstances will not allow it. What then?

               Women are rarely fulfilled solely by their careers, especially if they have an inclination for family life. So, even a dream job can feel meaningless. It’s even worse if a woman has chosen a career path only for gainful employment rather than passion. So the answer may not be to throw herself into her work.

               When a woman is denied the love found in marriage and motherhood, it is easy for her to feel that her life is a failure. I know that’s a terribly unpopular thing to say. Of course, a woman does not need a husband or children in order to live a fulfilling life. But when a woman longs for marriage or to have children, she is embracing her feminine nature and to be denied this fulfillment is damaging to her soul.

               To be thrown onto an undesired path can leave a woman’s soul bitter and stunt her growth. She may end up going through a period of rebellion and self-destructive behavior as a way of objecting to her circumstances. Or she may lose herself in fruitless daydreams of the life she longs for.

               It takes a great deal of spiritual maturity to overcome this kind of redirect. However, these are the kind of circumstances that can cause a person to neglect their spiritual growth. St Edith wrote that “That which is not personally chosen and made one’s own, freely and joyfully, can be accomplished only by the woman who sees God’s will at work in the force of circumstances and aims at nothing else than to harmonize her own will with the divine.”

               To be pulled aside from the course we have set for ourselves may be a sign of a special calling. It is important that a woman in this situation be deliberate in discerning her path. The help of a spiritual director may be beneficial so that she does not follow her own inclinations rather than God’s will.

               We all know how this heartache and devastation is to be overcome. We must put the sacraments at the center of our lives. We must receive every day from Christ’s hand and give it back to Him. Prayer cannot be a five-minute event at the end of each day. We must constantly lift up our hearts to Jesus. One minute at a time, one day at a time, trusting that His intention for us is more perfect than the life we dreamed of.

               It's not easy. There is nothing more difficult than giving up the life you dreamed of. And it seems so unfair when you see everyone around you living that life. Sometimes it is just a matter of waiting. But sometimes we have to let go of our plans and accept His plans.

               If this is something you are going through, it is so important for you to understand that you are not alone. It’s not something that we talk about enough, but so many women are affected by not being able to find a loving marriage or have children. But God has not forgotten you. God has not abandoned you. God sees you and He is building your life with intention.

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