I was speaking with a friend of mine, Tom*, recently about how people are supposed to know what they want and make good choices in a manner more particular and more relevant than “do good, avoid evil.” You know, the standard quarter-life crisis stuff. And, as such discussions are wont to do, this one turned towards vocation. We ended up discussing how, when it comes to sorting out your vocation, there are tons of what my taller-little sister would call “sprinkles” that you can prefer in a vocation, be it marriage or the priesthood or the religious life. But, and this is most readily apparent in marriage since the supernatural is rooted in the natural, much of marriage won’t be about those sprinkles. Tom pointed out that
A lot of marriage is figuring out how to get the daily stuff done—taking out the trash, making dinner, figuring out how those things will get done, and finding someone who you enjoy figuring those things out with.
That in the end, romance and attraction are important, but being able to enjoy getting food on the table and also afford a table with someone is no less important, and perhaps all the more necessary, to figure out when making decisions about the rest of your life.
This is a worthwhile perspective to consider when it comes to discerning vocations, whether in the more natural or more supernatural order. As one of my married friends, Tara**, noted
I literally couldn’t list out all the reasons I married [her husband]. If I sat down and tried, the list wouldn’t be wrong, but it would end up missing so much of who he is and why I love him. There are things I couldn’t even know until we had to deal with them, but he has them and he is so good. You can’t account for all the particulars, but you want to try to find someone who can experience them with you.
When it comes to making choices of careers, or where to live, to say nothing of whether to marry or pursue a religious or priestly vocation, and how to do any of those things in the very particular way that comes from actually living your actual life, it is easy to get caught up in the gravity of the situation—the call to holiness as abstracted from a specific living out of the call in a particularly chosen modality. As Tara later said,
You always go back to the most serious points during the whole dating—discernment thing. And actually, while those are the most serious points, they only make up about two percent of what actually matters. The other ninety-eight percent is the dribble stuff that matters more than you could ever have expected.