Our discernments can start to go offtrack when we allow anxiety to take over. But if we are at a turning point in our lives where we might be changing directions or where we cannot see the future, it can be easy to start worrying about the uncertainty of the unknown.
One young woman who was discerning her vocation told me. “Discerning is hard. It’s like I’m trying to predict the future.”
Discernment isn’t easy, but not because it’s predicting the future. Discernment is about seeking God’s call in the present moment. While it’s true that whatever choices we make today will affect our future, the way to live in discernment is to seek to faithfully live God’s call in the present moment, taking it moment by moment.
So why do most of us, at some points in our discernment, become anxious? Why is discernment so hard?
Discernment can be hard because it requires us to trust God in a very personal way. Discernment calls us to trust…
- That God loves us
- That God has a plan for us
- That God is revealing or will reveal his plan to us
- That God is at work in our lives today, in ways that we often cannot see or recognize
- That ultimately, we have a lot less control over our own lives than we’d like to think. (We have free will, can make choices, and are responsible for our own behavior, but so many parts of our lives and the situations we find ourselves in are beyond our control. When we are not in control of these things, anxiety about them can give us a sense that we have some control. Then it can become even harder to entrust them to God’s loving providence.)
We may think that we trust in God because we can recite an Act of Faith or the Creed. But sometimes the truths of our faith can seem theoretical or far away from us personally, even though they are not. Yes, we believe in the Incarnation. Yes, we believe in Jesus’ most holy Presence in the Eucharist. Our faith sometimes seems more like a checklist.
But do we believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist not just for everyone else, but for me, personally? Do we believe that God will act in our lives, right here and right now, when we need him to? For many of us, that kind of trust in God has to be learned experientially.
Sometimes the best thing to do when we struggle with trusting God, especially when we feel anxious about the uncertainty of the future, is to turn our prayer into surrender, entrusting even our fears to God’s loving hands. We can more easily do this if we can focus on living the present moment. We can almost always entrust this moment and whatever we are going through to God.
The Bible is full of wonderful passages that express and help us grow in trust in God. Some of my favorites are:
- Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd
- Jeremiah 17:7-8 Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
- Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord, not in your own understanding
- Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus tells us not to worry
- Philippians 4:4-20 God will meet all our needs
- 1 John 4:7-21 Rely on God’s love for us
If you have a favorite Scripture passage that encourages you to trust in the Lord, I’d love for you to share it below. In my next post, I’ll share a favorite psalm that is an oft-repeated prayer in my life.