When I chose to not attend college directly after homeschool graduation in favor of taking time to interiorly discern my vocation, and to explore less-trodden paths of learning, I sometimes felt as though I were being viewed as academically inferior, unready for adulthood, overly idealistic . . . the list goes on.
This was a difficult time for me, because this axiom still holds true: if and when you break the mold, you most likely won’t be understood—particularly by those who don’t strongly view sainthood as your future.
Yet the decision I made following graduation to remain at home, pray and keep vigil for what God had in store for me transformed my life forever!
This choice wasn’t formed by fear or a gleeful desire to never study again; rather, encouraged by my parents, I felt compelled to listen for God’s still, small voice away from the rush of collegiate challenges, and to discern if I really needed a degree to do what He was calling me to do with my life—and not just my life as a new graduate, but my entire life.
Succeeding in Holiness
Sanctity, after all, is why my parents—along with the great majority of Catholic homeschooling parents—chose to educate me at home from the beginning.
They wanted to rear me for God in a loving and protected environment, immersed in the Sacraments and in a faith-filled life.
They were committed to providing me with a sound and challenging academic education . . . yet everything they taught me was ultimately aiding me to learn and succeed for the rest of my life in holiness.
As Catholics, we know our lives are ultimately about holiness and unity with Our Lord’s will, and that we find true peace and fulfillment by discerning and living out our individual vocations, whether they be to marriage, the priesthood, the religious or single life . . . but still, more than a few of us are probably tempted to wonder as we face graduation from homeschool: Does my decision about college/work/post-graduation-life really affect how I’ll discern my vocation? Doesn’t that vocation thing come along once I’m more of an adult?
Well, I didn’t think that was true. And so I found myself a seventeen-year-old fresh high school graduate with no immediate plans or desires for college . . . only determined to pray and see if God would reveal my vocation to me.
Contemplating My Vocation
My main source of post-graduation study, enjoyment, and income at that time was serving as a Mass cantor. I loved it and the growing opportunities it afforded me then and still affords now (such as cantoring for live EWTN Masses, for a parochial school, and, most recently, for our diocesan Cathedral).
But I didn’t want to look any further in terms of work since I knew that, ultimately–if my heartfelt dreams aligned with God’s plan for my life–I simply wanted to be a homeschooling mom who made her home a beautiful, nurturing sanctuary—a domestic church—for her husband and children.
Having witnessed firsthand the beauty of motherhood in homeschooling, I felt a deep natural and spiritual desire to let my own womanhood truly flower.
Because I wasn’t swallowed by the demanding schedules and academic rigor of college, I was able to contemplate and pray about my growing desire for marriage and stay-at-home motherhood—a motherhood that would encompass homeschooling.
In the quiet and peace that came from not subjecting myself to the pressure of obtaining a degree, I was finding the space and encouragement to discern my spiritual vocation: my very own unique road that leads to Heaven.
So, as the new collegiate year was set to begin around me, I prayed a novena to dear St. Anne, asking that she would guide me to the knowledge of my vocation—and, if my vocation were marriage, to my future husband as well!
And God’s Answer Was . . .
Three months after my graduation, I was still at home, immersed in my usual bimonthly work as editor of a small homeschool literary magazine I’d started back when I was fifteen (this is something I would never have had time to continue if I had gone to college, I must admit!).
In the midst of this, I was miraculously introduced through a mutual friend to a newly recruited guest writer. He would turn out to be the wonderful Catholic young man God had created just for me.
We were separated by distance, and so extensive correspondence became the method by which we came to know each other and fall in love.
We were united in our hopes for starting a traditional family that would be grounded in the Catholic Faith, in homeschooling and in stay-at-home motherhood; where the husband was the breadwinner and the wife filled her time-honored and God-given place in the family as constant nurturer and caretaker.
I’ve never been so peaceful, empowered, motivated and full of joy as I am now, at the threshold of my vocation as a wife and, God-willing, mother.
By viewing college (and other commonly taken roads) not as indispensable steps required for a successful life, but rather as useful tools God could have employed as I discerned my vocation, but didn’t, I was saved much confusion and time, and was able to grow towards becoming the woman He created me to be.
Your Destiny is Sainthood!
I write this for you, homeschool-graduate-to-be, to encourage you. Our stories won’t be the same, but you and I are nevertheless closely united in our mission for holiness. So as you look towards a future that is bright with God’s grace and promise, I urge you to trust in His plan for your life, and to be excited about it!
Endeavor to grow in your spiritual life.
Immerse yourself in prayer and the Sacraments, and see if the Holy Spirit is leading you to take time after your high school graduation so that you might better discern your vocation.
Talk with your parents honestly about your hopes, dreams, and spiritual tugs concerning the future.
College is a valuable aid and may very well lie on the path to discerning your vocation . . . but then again, it’s possible that it doesn’t, as it didn’t on mine.
Your ultimate destiny is sainthood, and by earnestly discerning and following the unique vocation God has given you, you will change the world, be it with or without a degree!
Angels photo CC Fr Lawrence Lew | Flickr