I would love to say that there is some formula one can apply that will completely put beyond doubt the sense of calling - but I don’t think I can. The stories I heard of people I loved and respected working out what path God intended them to take made the simplicity of it all clear: difficult, but clear.
Discerning calling is a journey and has been so for me. A sense of vocation emerged dynamically over the years, growing alongside my faith and maturity: strong at times, weak at times, but never extinguished. I had been involved with churches in some capacity from a young age and so was quite aware of how at home I felt applying myself to help people see that life – with all its rhythms - finds its context in the gospel. It wasn’t a moment’s realisation but rather emerged as I followed my hands and feet into the spaces my heart was drawn to.
Recognising however, that this sense was to find its rooting through ordination came in twofold strands. First was the voice of others. When those I knew loved me deeply spoke of what they saw as God’s call for my life, the thoughts I had kept as thoughts; and hopes I had hidden intensified. It is these thoughts and hopes that are the second strand.
In retrospect I can recognise God speaking through them but at the time I was unsure. Regardless, however, I entered the discernment process; bringing with me all the doubts I was carrying. It is through the discernment process, real introspection with the nine criteria as a type of mirror that the assuredness settled. Now from the path behind me, I draw hope for what is to come.