I had quite a few different drafts for this post, but wasn’t happy with any of them: most likely because I lack the necessary wisdom to offer any good contribution on the topic of discernment. I will however share something I read recently in the wonderful book The Jesuit’s Guide to (Almost) Everything – A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, SJ. If you are unfamiliar with the notion of discernment, I would encourage you to read a book, such as this one, on the Ignatian spirituality. St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. I know one Jesuit that a lot of people like and he also happens to be the Vicar of Christ 😉 Without further ado, here is the passage on discernment from the wonderful book I mentioned:
Try the decision on, like a new sweater. How does it make you feel? Do you feel at peace or agitated? Then, for the nex few days take the opposite tack. How does that make you feel? This is a powerful tool. Normally our minds move restlessly from one alternative to the other, jumping like a nervous grasshoper from one blade of grass to the next, never giving ourselves sufficient time to consider either alternative. But after imaginatively living with the one course of action, and then the other, certain things will come to mind that you may not have noticed before. Advantages and disadvantages become more evident with time. In a sense, you’ll see the consequences of the decision before you make it. At the end of the process, ask yourself which option gave you the most peace? Then trust your feelings and make the decision.”
There was a very specific occasion in my life where this type of discernment was quite useful. After graduating from university, I felt called to apply to NET Ministries. Every fiber of my will wanted to fight it, but I had no peace resisting this call from God. I fought His demand for quite a few months, taking a seriously long time to fill out my application. When I was finally accepted to serve with NET for a year, you can imagine my shock when I suddenly had ZERO peace with the idea of accepting their offer. What kind of joke was God playing on me? He dragged me through this intense process to essentially tell me “I asked you to apply, I never asked you to actually join”. Ends up, I really need to learn to trust God. He was teaching me obedience and humility this entire time. Through the application/interview process, I also met so many godly men working on NET. These were some of the first practicing Catholic men I had ever known personally. After years of worldly living in university and being used and hurt by men, I needed those healing healthy relationships. It was also through this application to NET that I met the mutual friend who would introduce me to my current boyfriend. This is turning out to be a rather lengthy post for a gal who started off saying she didn’t have much to offer. That’s the beauty of His grace. If we surrender what little we have to Him, He will multiply it. Whatever you may be discerning, abandon yourselves to Him; to His will. Our God is a loving Father. He is not a tyrant.