The most important part in our vocational discernment is also the most important part in living our vocation: the loving desire to do God’s will. If our fundamental stance in our discernment is to do God’s will out of love, then God will bless us and lead us in our discernment. (When we offer ourselves to God so generously, God so delights in this kind of selfless love for him, that he cannot help himself by responding in kind.)
“Fundamental stance” doesn’t mean that we never sin or fail. Rather, it means that we are seeking to live and grow in an ongoing attitude of this loving desire to do God’s will in all things. We will fail sometimes in seeking God’s will, and we won’t always “feel” full of love. When, for whatever reason, we find ourselves holding back or acting in opposition to God’s loving will, we convert and return to this desire to lovingly live God’s will. Throughout our lives, we will need to repent and recommit over and over again.
Seeking to love God and do God’s will is a matter of our will, of what we choose. Loving God—just like our love for someone we care deeply about—doesn’t always feel good. The greatest acts of love usually involve sacrifice, which rarely feels good. Love of God is also not a matter of superficial feelings that make us feel good. We don’t always feel full of love for God. Rather, love is both the deep desire and lived-out choices of loving words and actions.
How can we grow in our love for God so that we will unswervingly seek God’s will—in our vocation discernment and in living out our vocation?
Build our relationship with God through prayer.
Prayer is our communication with God, whether we snatch moments through the day for short, intense prayers, pray the daily Liturgy of the Hours or the Rosary during our commute, make an hour of adoration or ten quiet minutes of meditation in the morning or evening. Whatever form our prayer takes, it is essential to build our relationship with God. It is essential to make sure, no matter how we pray, to leave time for listening. On occasion, putting aside some quality or “special” time for just us and God can bear immense fruit in our discernment, whether that means going away for a weekend retreat, or taking a long quiet walk.
Bring our relationship with God into our daily living.
Don’t keep God separate from the rest of our life. Our relationship with God is the most important relationship we have; our faith is one of the best ways to keep the joys and challenges of life in perspective.
God desires a deep union with us, and this is not an “on-and-off” union. By actively trying to bring God into our daily life, we deepen our union with God and open ourselves more fully to his grace. We can become channels of his grace for others with whom we interact.
While God never actually leaves us, we can try to “keep God out” of our daily lives when we ignore God’s presence, avoid prayer, or deliberately sin. When we prevent our union with God from growing and push God away from our awareness, we prevent the most important relationship in our life from having a direct influence on our daily choices. When we do turn to prayer, it can become harder, then, to experience God’s presence because we have ignored him all day. Inviting God into our day—especially the difficult times—gives us a strength and a joy we cannot imagine otherwise.
When we are able to become aware of God’s presence with us and around us in our daily life, then we are more open to hearing his invitations; we become more discerning in our daily life.
Although love is not a matter of feelings, it is helpful to stir up feelings of love for God so that it is easier to seek and do God’s will, especially when pleasure, fear, or something else inclines us in other directions. All prayer is good, but certain kinds of prayer are especially helpful in rekindling our daily fervor. Lectio divina, or making daily meditation (in the Christian sense of praying with the Word of God in such a way as to encounter God with our minds, wills, and hearts), is ideal for reminding us of God’s love for us and all the good reasons there are for our loving God in return. Praying with the Word of God in a way that personally engages us also helps us to know ourselves and to prepare us to live our day in union with God.