Imperfect Yet…
Unpacking Memories of My Discernment

September 11, 2012 |

After simple profession, I moved out of our novitiate in upstate New York and down to Washington DC to start studies in theology. Though I arrived a few months ago, somehow I am still working on cleaning and unpacking. It seems that my process is especially slow because I reminisce as I do it. Today, I found an old journal entry that I wrote during my discernment process before entering religious life and I had flash backs of all the doubts as I began to get serious about my vocation. At the time, I really wanted to reach a destination, to feel like that sense of arrival. It was like being at the end of a long day’s journey wanting to rest so badly to be told, “Not yet, keep going.”

My journal is normally where much of my praying happens and I take my angst to task, but this entry was completely different. Frustration and angst were every where, but I think this was the first time I accepted that I wasn’t in control. I had made a mess out of my life, and here I was standing in the middle of metaphorical pottery shards. My family and I were never really close and the friendships that I thought I could lean on were shaky. The stability I found was in school and I traded that in to run after dreams of being a big-time dancer and choreographer in Los Angeles. I was just barely twenty years old at the time and the world was limitless opportunity.

Over a period of a couple of years I hopped from contract to contract and couch to couch, I was a homeless romantic without a clue. Reflecting back on all of this, I was blessed. I met some unsavory characters, and at times ended up in dangerous situations, but through it all, I was kept safe. I thought I caught a break when I landed a job as a restaurant manager that promised steady income that would work with my job as a show designer at a local high school. God let me do it, but why? Maybe I needed to tire myself out before I would really listen.

There were two things that I was running from: God and his plan for my life. I tried to negotiate with the Great Negotiator for a long time proposing my ideas about being a dancer or even a personal trainer only to hear, “Not yet, keep going.” It has been ten or eleven years since, and now I can see that I had something to prove at twenty. My problem is that I had no clue! I threw myself completely into my two jobs while walking away from the Church. I went to New Age, Buddhism, and eventually Judaism to find a new spiritual life.

It was Judaism that brought me to a stop. The intellectual tradition and history really appealed to me, but hearing Genesis chanted in Hebrew brought me to tears. What did I do? At this point, I was twenty-three needed to make a commitment, so I became Jewish. I dug in and told myself that this was it. The intention was sincere but I became restless within a couple years. I went to Shabbat services weekly, offered my prayers daily, and my home was becoming more kosher. The restlessness grew and I didn’t feel like I was home yet. Rather, it was like I was trying to go home, but I woke up only to discover I was in my neighbors house. I began to pray and I asked God to help me understand why I felt like this. My prayers were returned with, “Not yet, keep going.” That guy who shakes his fist at the sky? That was me.
[Next…a prayer of surrender]

James Kinkade
James Kinkade was born in the Wild West currently known as Wyoming during the Reagan administration. Baptized as a Methodist but growing up essentially un-churched, his adolescent rebellion was spent researching religion and secretly attending Mass. He became Catholic and graduated High School within a two week period and set out to explore the world. He was involved in Drum Corps International for five years while taking college classes and worked the Restaurant and Hotel industries before answering God’s invitation to religious life with a puzzled ‘yes’. He attended Casper College and the University of Utah before finishing his undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. He is currently in Simple Vows and studying at Catholic University of America.
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