Discernment can’t really happen when we’re in a hurry – at least, not usually – because when we’re in a hurry, we aren’t poised to listen well. And the practice of discernment is mostly about listening well: to God, and to our own hearts in dialogue with him.
This doesn’t mean discernment can’t happen quickly. Sometimes, we need to make an important decision and outside circumstances limit the time we have to make it. If we practice discernment as a habit, if we are leading listening lives, then very often we can discern well in a short span of time.
But hurry is different. Hurry is a state of anxiousness and worry; fear is the driver when we’re in a hurry. We’re afraid we won’t make it in time, that there won’t be anything left, that someone or something won’t work well unless we’re the ones to oversee it.
no peace in hurry. There is no confidence that things will be ok because God is
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.
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.
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?
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?
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