Seek Wise Guidance

(Learn to Discern, Principle #9)

Have you ever found yourself looking for help with difficult decision, only to leave the conversation feeling like the other person’s ideas just didn’t fit?  Or worse, have you ever followed a piece of advice, only to realise later that it was terrible advice for you, even if the person giving it meant well? Maybe you’ve received good advice, but were in a place where you just weren’t ready to hear it?

It seems like there are very few occasions in life that are helped by direct advice: either it doesn’t really work for our unique situation, or we need to move forward on our own in order to discover our own best path.

Of course, sometimes in the process of discernment, we can get stuck in our own heads, trapped in a circle of thoughts that don’t seem to lead anywhere. Our position as an ‘insider’ to our own situation can make us unable to see outside things. Sometimes we can even miss things that are glaringly obvious! Continue Reading

Where Do You Get Your Significance?

“And what I’ve realized is that I cling to stress because I fear I am not worthy unless I am busy. I maintain an overbooked schedule because it makes me feel needed and successful. To give up the sensation of feeling stressed, for me, would be to give up feeling significant.”

These words really caused me to think. I’ve been consciously trying to stop hurrying and to build more margin into my days. I don’t like being “busy” for the sake of it, and there are few things I enjoy more than a lazy afternoon spent reading a good novel. But what about this idea of “feeling significant”?

This is a question that seems to plague almost everyone I meet: what makes you feel significant? What makes you feel like you matter? Where does your worth come from? Continue Reading

Maximizing Prayer

Have you ever had a difficult decision to make, and found yourself praying, “Lord, you decide. Just tell me, and I’ll do it!”?  I know I have.

In his podcast on “Four helpful rules for discernment,” Fr. Mike Schmitz points out that sometimes (not every time, but sometimes,) we ask God what His Will is, for the simple reason that we don’t want to make the decision.

It might seem really godly of us to do whatever the Father wills – but sometimes it’s an excuse for us not taking responsibility for our own choices. Continue Reading

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

Unexpected Change

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Simcha Fisher wrote a great piece recently, reflecting on how a diagnosis of diabetes in their family has changed the way she thinks about food – but not just food. The whole notion of how one way of thinking might be just fine in one particular set of circumstances, but not in another, made her question how freely she remains open to change in her spiritual life.

“There is one constant: We must know, love, and serve God. But the specifics are surprisingly subjective. What God wants from me, to keep my soul nourished, is not necessarily what He wants from you.”

“This is a familiar lesson. Maybe we’re comfortable with the idea that we are one body with many members, and that diverse vocations are a feature, not a bug. But are we aware that our own vocations may be good and useful and pleasing to God for a while — and then may abruptly change? That the thing that used to nourish me yesterday might suddenly become the last thing I need?”

Continue Reading