The Practice of Discernment Doesn’t Happen in a Hurry

(Learn to Discern, Principle # 16)

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.

There is no peace in hurry. There is no confidence that things will be ok because God is in control.

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“I Don’t Know What I Really Want.” (To Find Out, Try This)

Several 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.

“Maybe,” he offered, “God is asking you what you want.”

What did I want? In that moment, I couldn’t answer the question. Sometimes it’s hard to know our own desires.

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What if I Don’t Know What I Want?

(Learn to Discern, Principle #15)

Have you 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?”

And you 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?

The struggle is real.

Knowing your own desire is key in the discernment process.

Why?

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How Do I Know if I Can Trust My Desires in Discernment?

(Learn to Discern, Principle #14)

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.

It might 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?”

Is 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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How Do I Know if I’m Actually Open to Hearing God? (Part II)

(Learn to Discern, Principle #13-B)

Most of 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?

Part I considered 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?

Here’s what it entails:

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