Taking the Hint

I once had a job offer that I was fairly excited about. It was the kind of thing I enjoyed doing and the employer seemed to think I would be an excellent fit. The only difficulty was the calendar: I needed to be assured that the school schedule they followed would work for me. We went back and forth with negotiations, and they were eager to accommodate my requests.

When the final phone call for formal acceptance arrived, I found myself with an uneasy feeling. With [what seemed to be] no reason whatsoever, I said no to the job.

I didn’t have any other prospects, I wasn’t dreaming of doing something else – I just found myself unable to say yes to the thing I [thought I] wanted.

It didn’t seem like a very rational decision at the time, but it worked out because my life took a turn in a different direction soon after.

How did I know to do that? I certainly didn’t plan to turn down the position: I didn’t even know I was going to, until the very last minute! Was it the Holy Spirit nudging me? Was it some kind of foresight I didn’t know I had? Was it my gut, telling me that something was “off”, even though I couldn’t say what? Continue Reading

Sometimes You Don’t Need to Pray About It

(Learn to Discern Principle #1)

In my university years, there was a popular phrase that was always thrown about in Christian circles: “I need to pray about it.” Did someone ask you to join a club you didn’t want to join? “I need to pray about it.” Were you chosen for a project you didn’t want to be a part of? “I need to pray about it.” Asked out on a date by someone you weren’t into? “I need to pray about it.”

Often, instead expressing an actual openness to discern God’s presence in the invitation, the phrase acted like a “get out of jail free” card.

Finally, one of my friends told me that she had used it with her spiritual director, who responded, “Ruth, there are some things you don’t need to pray about.” Continue Reading

Decisions and Discernment

In my younger years, I spent a lot of time agonizing over all kinds of decisions: what I should study? Should I go to graduate school? Should I accept the job offer? Are skinny jeans really universally flattering? … the list goes on.

In truth, there are many decisions I still wrestle with, but I’d like to think that over the years, I’ve become a bit better at navigating difficult ones. (Migrating to skinny jeans? 5 years. This season’s wide-legged cropped trousers? Purchased.)

Decision making and discernment are actually a bit different, though: a decision has to be made when you have options to choose from: do I go to this university or that? Should I leave my current job or stay in it? Is cutting my hair short a good idea? Making a decision is a particular act.

Discernment, on the other hand, encompasses the whole process of making a decision. It can start any time you start wondering if something should be different, even if you can’t articulate what or why. Continue Reading

Born to… ?

 

Do you ever read quotes like “what will you do with your one wild and precious life?”* and feel stressed out because you haven’t yet accomplished something great? Or maybe you feel an immense pressure to find the one amazing thing you can do for the world that no one else can do?

If you’re feeling small, or inadequate, or boring, every time you scroll through Instagram to see snapshots of what grandiose things everyone else is doing, take comfort in these wise words from Emily P. Freeman:

“Soon after my first book was released in the fall of 2011, I had someone ask me if I thought that was the book I was born to write. Part of me wanted to declare with great certainty, ‘Yes! This is what I was made to do! This book is the culmination of my purpose on earth.’

But I couldn’t say that.

I believe that book was the book I was born to write for that particular season in my life. Several years before that book released, I brought twins into the world, revealing God’s glory by being a mother (I still do that, by the way). Four years before that, I learned sign language and revealed God’s glory by being an interpreter (I no longer do that at all). Just this morning I revealed the glory of God in my kitchen, making cookie dough….

I don’t believe there is one great thing I was made to do in this world. I believe there is one great God I was made to glorify. And there will be many ways, even a million little ways, I will declare his glory with my life.”

—Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways

 

What is one of your million little ways to glorify God?

 

*Ironically, Mary Oliver’s poem is about just being in nature, rather than doing anything in particular! Enjoy reading it for yourself.

 

Personality Tests are not Horoscopes: but They Can Be Helpful

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

A lot of people take issue with personality tests. I used to be one of those people. The objection is clear: No individual unique person is exactly like any other person. And putting people in a box isn’t helpful. And besides, those results never really capture who I am.

It’s true. Every person is unique. No one can be summarized in a simply personality box. And often the results of personality tests are inaccurate.

Why have I come round to appreciating personality tests? Mostly because I began to see them for what they actually are. A helpful rephrasing of accurate information I already know about myself.

Personality tests can’t reveal anything you don’t already know. Continue Reading