Thursday, July 11, 2013

Not Alone: Vocational Despair

"Most of us have times where we despair about our vocations, or, if we know them (i.e. marriage), we despair that they will never be fulfilled. How do we deal with that despair and what are our best tips on moving past the despair into hope?"

Above is the topic-of-the-week in the Not Alone Series, hosted by Morgan and Co. over at "Follow and Believe".  This week's topic is very timely, as the social media of today makes it much too easy to compare your life story to that of others, and quickly become depressed when it seems yours could never be as great as theirs.

Here I must make a confession- though I do not read many "mommy blogs", I am VERY guilty of frequenting wedding blogs, scrolling through all the gorgeous pictures, and then letting out one of those pensive, dreamy, "when will it be my turn?" sighs.  While reading about the bloggers who are just beginning beautiful, Catholic, married lives, it is easy to become impatient.  They sound so happy, so peaceful, so content, and it is much too simple to think "I cannot wait until I find my future husband, then I'll be happy".  But therein is where the problem lies.  Personally, I spend way too much time dreaming of all the fun I am going to have once I meet my Prince Charming, and not enough time living in the moment, enjoying every second of every day that God gives me.  This is what inspired a post I wrote on IgnitumToday a couple months ago entitled "The Top Five Ways to -NOT- Grow in Emotional Purity", which I invite all of you to read.   I truly believe that cultivating emotional purity is the absolute best way to avoid depression and despair in the days before your vocational calling is fulfilled.  By abstaining from songs or movies that trigger your thoughts in a negative direction, learning to view the guys around you as potential friends- not boyfriend candidates-, and centering your thoughts on Christ instead of Romeo, you will find much more peace of mind.  By working on bettering yourself, you will be doing the absolute best thing possible to prepare for your vocation- whether it is marriage, the single life, or religious life.

As far as moving from despair into hope is concerned, making sure that you do not allow all of your thoughts to become self-pitying ones is essential.  When you're having one of those days when it seems like everyone has a significant other except for you, and no matter where you turn you cannot escape the reality that you are the only human being out there who is still single, your mind stops thinking about anything but how miserable you are.  That is called self-pity, and it leads to judgment, jealous, envy, and selfishness.  It is important that when  you catch your thoughts heading in that direction, you stop and do something distracting and uplifting.  Put on some music that makes you smile and bake a cake.  Put on your most comfortable exercise outfit and go MOVE!  Grab your sunglasses and let some good ol' sunshine bring a smile to your face.  Call a friend or bribe a sibling and check out a local restaurant.  Go see a funny movie, or read a funny book.  Do NOT wallow in those thoughts, or make them worse by consuming an entire bag of Doritos while watching "Say Yes to the Dress" re-runs.  Doing something active will boost your energy, and doing something for or with someone else will help you refocus on the people around you, instead of yourself.  Or, to use the clichĂ© phrase, work on finding J-O-Y by remembering what it stands for: "J-esus, O-thers, Y-ourself".

Focus on Christ, thank Him every day for your blessings, and when you are tempted to fall into anxiety or sorrow because your future vocation seems unreachable, say a prayer for strength, for your future husband/ religious life, put in a Michael Bublè CD, bake a batch of sugar cookies, and offer up your troubles to God, because it's hard to sing the words with a frown on your face!

May God bless all of you, and give you joy!


  1. "because it's hard to sing the words with a frown on your face!" I like this. Great post.

  2. What a great post! I do the same thing sometimes-Pinterest is also a haven for amazing wedding photos and despair:)

  3. Thank you, Niki and Anonymous! I hope these things help you, like they have helped me! May God bless!

  4. Awesome, Abigail! You're very wise! Pinterest certainly doesn't make it easy for us single ladies, what with their unending home-making and wedding-planning ideas! But I love that you identified how easily self-pity perpetuates into much bigger's so easy to think that you're having a harmless pity party when in fact you're building walls that will be very difficult to overcome in the future.

    Praying for you!

    1. Morgan- thank you for commenting! I am thoroughly enjoying the Not Alone series, and cannot thank you enough for initiating such important conversation!

      Yes, I've heard that Pinterest is quite dangerous- full of too many lovely pictures! Well, as far as the self-pity is concerned- I speak from experience. Any time I start feeling sad for myself, the "How to be Happy" poem comes to mind. In the poem the author counsels those feeling down by saying: "Do something for somebody quick!" And it is true, as you said, that if you become too self-centered, the way you view others is tainted, which harms your ability to form friendships and seek help from those around you.

      May God bless you for all you do, and for hosting this series, which is certainly bringing good advice and timely comfort to young women everywhere!


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