years ago, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop with a friend, discussing
the paths our lives were taking, and whether we should follow or change them. “I
just don’t know what God wants for me,” I lamented.
he offered, “God is asking you what you want.”
I want? In that moment, I couldn’t answer the question. Sometimes it’s hard to
know our own desires.
“Whatever you want more of, put that front and center.”
This piece of advice came to me in a Marie Forleo email about website design, but it also struck me as great life advice.
If I want more time with my family, it has to be front and center. If I want more personal growth, it has to be front and centre. If I want more of a spiritual life, it has to be front and centre.
But sometimes what I feel I want more of doesn’t line up with what is actually, currently, front and centre in my life.
Maybe I want more time with family, but my career is front and centre. Maybe I want more personal growth, but social events are front and centre. Maybe I want more of a spiritual life, but my hobbies are front and centre.
Sometimes what we think or say is important to us isn’t actually what we live out.
ever been in the midst of an agonizing decision, and had someone offer this
annoying piece of advice: “It’s really simple! What do you actually want?”
can’t answer the question, because the whole point of why the decision is
agonizing is that you don’t know what you want? And even if you did know, you
aren’t sure it would be the right thing? And you kind of want option A, but
another part of you wants option B?
struggle is real.
your own desire is key in the discernment process.
Giving up milk is tough when you love coffee, but it’s even tougher when brie is one of your favourite foods. Several years ago, a friend suggested that I try giving up dairy as a solution to the cystic acne I had experienced my entire life. Despite my love of soft, French cheese, I decided to give it a go. Within 4 weeks I was starting to see a real change, and 10 weeks later my skin was totally different. I wasn’t in pain from cysts and the red spots on my face and neck had virtually disappeared. Needless to say, I was a convert.
But a different friend was incredulous. “No dairy? Not even a little milk in your coffee?” She asked. “I could never give it up completely. I just need a bit.” The truth is, I didn’t have a choice- having a little milk in my coffee produced almost the same reaction as eating an entire wheel of brie. And obviously, if I was going to indulge, I’d rather have more than less!
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?
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