Alright, can we just agree that every vocation has its difficult moments, challenges and rewards? You can’t compare one to another and say one is more difficult than the other. Perhaps it looks so difficult to you because you don’t have a realistic view of the day to day life of a priest. YouTube has many videos on “A Day in the Life of a Priest” Refer to the post HERE: Another Vision of the Future with reflections by a priest of 25 years.
I admit that one of my first gut reactions to my son’s announcement was the politically incorrect comment, “He doesn’t know what he is giving up!” My concept of being a priest meant you had to give up so much. My unconscious bias from childhood imprinted the idea that a priest’s life was full of sacrifice and suffering. (I will explain this in another post on exploring where your attitudes and biases originate.)
What helped me understand this objection was the idea of “giving up and getting”. Every vocation has its own aspects of things you are giving up and things you are getting. Although as parents, we don’t know the joys and sacrifices of being a priest, the same concepts apply to the vocations of marriage and parenthood.
If you have been married for any length of time, you know that marriage can be filled with sacrifice and suffering. When I got married, I knew that I was giving up every man in the entire world in order to marry my husband. Did I see this as a sacrifice? No! I wanted to do it. I did it happily, whole heartedly, joyfully. Did I understand the full implications of those vows? At the time, I thought I did. But of course as the saying goes, you have to say “I do” every day, even when you don’t want to, even when it is hard to love. Did I fully know what that meant? No, no one does on your wedding day
When I got married, I knew I was giving up my financial independence because I wanted to make a life and a home with my husband. Was this a sacrifice? It didn’t seem so until I wanted a new pair of boots, but the car needed new tires.
Parenthood has a significant amount of giving up. Giving up control of my body for 9 months of pregnancy and then
another year of breastfeeding was difficult, but I wanted to do it. The minute you see that little face, you know any sacrifice is worth loving this little person and watching them grow.
Parenthood has incredible bursts of joy on a daily basis, but the proportion of sacrifice and suffering is far greater. As a percentage, parenthood has far more times of fatigue, sacrifice, frustration, anxiety, and suffering than joy. Do I regret all the sacrifices and struggles of parenthood? Absolutely not! The sacrifice is part of the nature of being a parent and makes you cherish the times of joy. If I only focused on all the things I was giving up as a parent, I would have missed the everyday joys and the big picture of the vocation of parenthood.
Realize that no matter what a young man gives up to be a priest, he will be getting his own set of joys to cherish that we will never be able to fully comprehend.
Please know that the authors of this blog pray daily for parents of discerning sons and daughters to find understanding and peace.