(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
Do you struggle with the “shoulds”?
The “shoulds” is a condition that I’ve noticed in my own life, and in the lives of those who struggle with perfectionism – although it can affect others, too!
Someone with the “shoulds”:
“should” try harder. Try harder at being a better person. Try harder at not being so lazy. Try harder at doing whatever thing is the thing to be doing – growing houseplants, becoming a minimalist, buying eco-friendly clothing.
“should” work more. Lean in. Hustle. Have a side-gig.
“should” seize the day more. You Only Live Once, so they should climb the mountain, see the sunrise, eat crickets.
“Shoulds” are burdensome. They lead to constant guilt about all the things we aren’t doing, and to none of the joy about the things we are.
Someone with the “shoulds” basically just feels bad about existing most of the time. Continue Reading
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
(Learn to Discern, Principle #8)
Have you ever prayed for a sign? Maybe you were in the midst of a confusing situation, or discerning different alternatives, or just plain old frustrated and unable to tell what the best path was.
Praying for signs seems to be a pretty common human experience, whether someone considers themselves to be spiritual or not. We all have moments where we want a very clear answer about what to do.
But the problem with signs, I’ve noticed, is that they are difficult to notice!
Sometimes that difficulty is a result of our own over-thinking; sometimes it’s the result of our own blindness; and sometimes that difficulty is actually the sign we have been looking for all along. Continue Reading
(Learn to Discern, Principle #4)
If you ever went to youth retreats and sat through talks on “God’s will for your life” you might be familiar with these questions:
“How do I know my vocation?”
“Is he/she the one I am supposed to marry?”
“How do I know if God wants me to do x?”
These were the type of questions that plagued my young Christian heart for years – and apparently mine wasn’t the only one. A recent conversation with some friends who do youth work revealed that these questions, often spoken in anguish, are perennial. Everyone wants to know: how do I know my life’s path?
The big questions in life aren’t matters of simple decision making. They’re matters of discernment. Continue Reading