Living in a spirit of discernment is a wonderful spiritual attitude to cultivate and grow in daily. One of the benefits of living with a discerning heart is that, when the time comes to make a big decision in our lives, we have the tools of discernment at hand to help us discover God’s will for us.
(Just a note: if you are jumping into this blog/book and starting directly here because you are in the midst of a big discernment, you may wish to go back and read a couple earlier posts, especially “Four Essentials Principles for Discernment,” which give a context to the exploration of specific kinds of discernment that follows.)
In books and classes about writing, writers are taught how every good story has key moments, or turning points, when the protagonist must make a choice that will change the direction of the entire story.
In our lives, we have—or will come to—the same kind of moments. Choosing a course of study, taking a new job, finding a place to live, following our vocation, committing to our marriage partner, or any other big change in our lives—these are key turning points that will affect our lives from this point on. As disciples of Christ, we want to seek God’s will at these important moments. But how do we do that?
Growing in our relationship with God and living in a spirit of discernment are the best long-term preparation we can make, but there are also concrete things we can do in the short-term that will help us at these key moments of life. Additional concerns or constraints bind us in these moments, especially when we are facing a big decision that could require big changes. In these next few posts, we’ll look at turning points of our lives, and then specifically at vocational discernment, since discerning our vocation is likely one of the most important discernments we will ever make.
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Pope St. John Paul II often repeated Jesus’ words, “Do not be afraid!” We do not need to be afraid because, if we are seeking God’s will, God will guide us. In the Scriptures, God might seem to withdraw from his people but only to teach them a lesson. God never actually abandons his people who seek him. Certainly if we are trying to live God’s plan for us, God will be with us, giving us all the help that we need. We can take courage, knowing that God has a loving plan for us. When we are in the midst of the stress of making a big decision, the most important attitude to have is trust in the Lord. As we allow the Lord’s love for us to banish our fear, we become even more free to hear clearly God’s loving call.