One of the
most frequent issues that arises almost every time I talk about discernment is
the role of personal desire in spiritual and practical discernment.
take the form of, “how do I know that this is what God wants and not just what
I want?” or “I really want x, and so it’s probably not what I should do,” or, “I
have always wanted to do y, but that’s irrelevant, right?”
personal desire something that belongs in discernment? Or is it the kind of
thing that we should just disregard because it’s a massive distraction from
what is really meant to be happening? How do I know if I can trust my desire?
you struggle to do everything perfectly, if you labour over the last tiny
detail of every little thing, if you are afraid to ever show your work to
anyone before it has reached complete perfection, you might be a perfectionist.
Perfectionism is a burden, but it’s also a privilege. If you have an entire essay to write in the next 8 hours, labouring over comma placement in one sentence becomes a privilege you no longer have. If your manager expects 10 reports on his desk by Monday morning, you don’t have the luxury of hours spent formatting margins within 1/8 inch.
I’ve written before about the importance of knowing yourself, and how journaling can be a big part of that process. But what if you’ve never journaled before? What if you don’t think of yourself as a “writer”? The whole process can be intimidating if you’re new to journaling, so here are some prompts to help you get started.
Remember: there’s no right or wrong when it comes to journaling. It’s just a place to note down your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and everyday life happenings. You may naturally want to focus more on one than the other: that’s fine! Journaling is the kind of practice you grow into over time, so start with writing what’s easiest for you to write. There will be seasons of plenty, where you’ll be filling page after page, and seasons where it’ll be difficult to scratch out more than a few lines. Stick with it, and you’ll be able to look back and see the fruit.
us, at one time or another, have found ourselves caught in the loop of
wondering: is God speaking to me? Am I hearing correctly? Or am I hearing only
what I want to hear? How do I know if I’m actually open to what God has to say?
how our openness to God isn’t necessarily tied to any particular emotional
feeling, but rather has to be understood in the context of our lives as a
whole. How we live indicates how much weight our deeper desires should carry
in the process of our discernment which unfolds in conversation with God.
The question “am I truly open to hearing God?” can only be answered in light of the more fundamental question: do I live like I’m open to God? Because how we live determines if we make space for God regularly. We’re usually open to hearing God if we’re leading a listening kind of life.
How do we know if we’re leading a listening kind of life?
difficult situation arises, what’s your default mode of approach? Are you
willing to charge into the conflict, head-first? Or do you just want to curl up
in a ball and make everyone go away?
Knowing your tendencies can go a long way in improving your response to conflict in all sorts of relationships. Nicky and Sila Lee, authors of The Marriage Book, offer two pictures of how people deal with conflict: becoming either a rhinoceros, or a hedgehog.
If you tend
to be a “rhino”, chances are you’re willing to get aggressive when dealing with
difficult issues. You’ll want to ‘have it out’ in a fight, rather than walk
away from the problem. A rhino charges straight in, horn pointed and ready to attack.
But if you’re
a “hedgehog”, you’re much more likely to want to avoid conflict. When things
get challenging, you’ll want to stop the conflict by shutting down. A hedgehog
curls up in a ball and sticks its prickly spines out so no one can hurt it.