I committed the ultimate sin as a Catholic by walking away from my religious calling. Working diligently for twelve years as a emergency room nurse within the ranks of the Sisters of Charity I thought I was living up to my full potential as one of God's workers. That illusion was shattered sixteen years ago at the age of thirty-eight while battling breast cancer. It was then I started questioning my self-worth to this world. Did I let time slip past me without accomplishing anything worthwhile? Did I live my life haphazardly as a sister?
Something miraculous happens when you are faced with death. The blinders you wore so carefreely disappears from your eyes and for the first time you can see all life has to offer. I once thought the only way I could make a difference in this life was to be solemn and prayerful. Life should not be dull and colorless to be closer to God. Paying homage to Him is to see the world in its true wonders taking nothing for granted.
My mother superior thought it was her duty to tell me it was natural for people to become misguided while facing difficult moments. Although I agreed with her I knew in my heart it was God telling me to appreciate life and not assume I must be withdrawn from the world to be closer to Him. I did not leave my order during my ordeal but eventually I left. The parting words from an older sister was, "you took vows and you should honor them. You're committing an act of treason against God and The Church by leaving."
I do not feel I made a mistake by leaving my religious vows behind. I have never felt so free in my life until I left behind all those meaningless rituals designed to bring the religious closer to God and his Graces. My love for my Heavenly Father has not waned because of my uncloistered life it has become more intense and loving due to my understanding of the importance of life. I enjoy walks through the parks, evenings with friends, occasional movies, gardening, and playing with my dog. The yesterdays of my life were filled with prayers and work, I am not accusing the life of prayerful solitude as being anything less than spiritually satisfying for all, I am just pointing out life should consist of more than those things to be a good worker for Christ.
It was not until I had left the convent did I learn of the many women who had left their religious callings behind because they saw life as having unlimited possibilities. Lay persons assume sisters who leave their orders want to get married and start families but that is not always true. Actually, it is seldom true. Sometimes things happens in our lives that makes us see what we are missing as humans rather than continue partial life we leave to have full ones. Once I asked another former sister why she left her order and she told me she saw through the rhetoric that kept sisters minds so dutiful without question. Maybe that is why so many women in their late forties and mid fifties leave their religious vocations behind, they finally see they can be responsible for themselves while serving God.
If I committed the ultimate sin by leaving my vows then I will gladly pay the cost after I am with my maker.