I was 14 when I first realized I had a vocation. The thought had silently been present in my mind and heart for some time, but I never went there. It was too challenging of a thing for me. Then one day the thought came strongly and I remember the experience so well. I was in my room one day thinking about spiritual things when the thought of giving myself totally to God came to me again, this time accompanied by an inner conviction that seemed loud and clear: He was asking this of me. I wriggled, I squirmed, I even remember laying on the floor and propping myself upside down with my legs on my bed in protest against this terrible idea and—more than that—the realization within myself that, this is what I was supposed to do. But I didn’t want to! I wanted to get married, have kids, have lots of nice things, do what I wanted to do . . . I even went half way with Him and said, “I’ll be a preacher and devote myself to you fully that way” but anything but this!
As my anxiety grew and grew I realized that I really only had one option if I wanted to fully follow our Jesus, and that was to say, “Yes” in an act of trust and relinquishment. As I let those words pass from my heart to my lips a deep peace came over my soul and I somehow knew that this peace was the sign for me that I was not mistaken here, and that our Lord was confirming my obedience and love. As the days went on what seemed so repulsive to me started to shift into something beautiful and I became quite excited about the idea of giving my all to Him without reserve. Not long afterward He granted me an unexpected grace: I found a pamphlet of The Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary in a local Church. As soon as I read it this sense of “this is right, this is for me” flooded my heart and I soon got in touch with the Community that I would later enter into as a permanent brother.
Since that initial time there have been many peaks and valleys in my relationship with our Lord, but I share this basic experience of hearing His still soft voice, then protesting and rebelling against it, only to realize I need to relinquish myself again to experience a deep peace as glimpse into the path that our Lord has carried me on. This experience has been repeated in my life innumerable times and in many different ways since that initial prompting. In a real way it has become a basic, daily experience of mine, teaching me how to daily discern His voice over mine and offering me many opportunities to relinquish my will to His.
—By Br. James of the Holy Spirit, OSIHJM