The Haunting of an Awkward Question

Friday, January 5, 2018

The conversation shouldn't have been an awkward one. That is, if I were normal, if I were like any 32 year old.
But I'm not, so instead, it turned awkward and I wanted to crawl under a rock.

How I felt during this conversation
I'm new to my work and we were all sharing details of our lives in the office, so an intern innocently asked: "So, Amanda, do you have any kids?"
"You married?"
"But you're you just not want to get married?"

Oh, God.
I will admit that I brushed this off as the intern being a young college student and not having learned the prudence I learned was taught in religious life.

"It's not that." Pause. All right, I need to give more details here or they're just going to fill in the blanks. "Okay, so I was a nun and left just a year ago."

After the initial "WHAT?!?!" and "WHOA!", she paused and said "But it's been a year already. You're not married or anything. What have you been doing with your life?"

I know she asked this innocently (once again, young college student), but I was taken back. I mumbled something about things don't happen that fast and I changed the subject. But I couldn't get the question out of mind:

"But it's been a year already. What have you been doing with your life?"

What have I been doing with my life? Have I been doing anything with my life?
I feared the answer was "nothing".

I am no closer to finding out my vocation in life, no closer to marrying anyone (or even going out with anyone), certainly no closer to having kids.
I am closer to starting graduate school for my MSW...and by closer, I mean I've filled out most of the application. So really, not that close.
I am no closer to any kind of promotion or salary increase. I switched jobs twice this year and I'm now in a job I like, but one that won't be my permanent career.
Everything has remained the same since the day I left - same apartment, same car, even the same friends.

Maybe it's true, maybe I haven't done anything in a year.

I won't deny it; I sulked around with those truths for a few weeks, even through Christmas. I had a year and I did nothing. I felt as if I had failed myself, failed God who had this great plan for me, and, in a way, even failed those who supported me leaving the community. I wallowed in shame.

Life with the Daughters was so packed with ministry, prayer, meetings, conferences, etc. Every moment was filled with purpose. Now that I was by myself...was I just wasting my life because I didn't have a "purpose" of being a wife or mother?

But, as I let myself reflect on it, I realized that while I may not have done the logical "next steps" or what the world would expect of me, there were some accomplishments this past year:

I am no closer to finding out my vocation in life, but I started writing again and am deeply in love with its pains and joys.
I am no closer to finding out my vocation in life, but I've gained some self-confidence, which can only aid in the search.
I am no closer to my MSW as of right now, but I have learned many lessons in ethics, motivational interviewing, etc by experience.
I am no closer to any kind of promotion or salary increase, but I'm happy in my job and isn't that what counts?
Everything has remained the same since the day I left, but I have gained some great friends from church that I didn't have a year ago that I wouldn't trade for anything.
Everything has remained the same since the day I left, but I've grieved my past and kept walking ahead.

I pray that, if that question comes up again, I can say with confidence: "Actually, I did a lot."


  1. Thank you for your sharing, Amanda. I think that we as a culture have uncritically accepted the idea that generativity and productivity is possible 24/7, and that, much to our own detriment. A lot of things in nature need time to lie fallow, in order to be most fruitful; and we would do well to learn from nature. Considering that you just made a big life change, I think it is reasonable and quite healthy - spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically - to take some time to just let things soak in. I support and affirm you either way.

  2. Wow that is such an honest and touching testimony. I'm so happy that this girl asked the question, so that you felt compelled to think about all the things that happened within that last year. I might not have been a nun, but I'm 29 and I ask myself 'What I'm doing with my life' regularly. In the Christian community it is oftentimes really hard to accept your identity as a woman without being a wife or mother. But he is using us to change that paradigm and give others hope. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Remember single life is a vocation too. Maybe God’s calling you to be His in a different way. Thanks for sharing your stories!

  4. Awesome post! Thank you for sharing your heart! Happy New Year!! Blessings to you!!

  5. So many people find identity through relationships. It saddens me to see married or singles alike finding marriage or children as the ultimate fulfillment. Still, it is hard to remind myself how much I have done, despite the lack of worldly check off's. This is a great reminder of how to think on the past. Thanks for writing!

  6. Loved this post! It's so important that everyone find THEIR happiness and no one else's. You seem to be doing awesome, if you ask me :).

  7. It is so encouraging that you are able to share this with us. First, can I say that your website looks amazing?
    Also, I'm happy that you used that whole event and turned it around to reflect on the positive things that have happened in your life. A new year is here and better things are for sure on the way. Go Girl. God bless you.


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