What is discernment and why is it important?
In this blog, we’re talking about discernment in the Catholic spiritual tradition, which is a specific meaning different from the typical dictionary definition—“making a good judgment,” or “distinguishing between good and bad.” Discernment takes on its true importance when we understand what it is and what it is not. Discernment is not:
- Making a decision
- Magically becoming 100% sure of what God wants
- Receiving visions or hearing voices from God
- Rationally deciding what’s best to do
- Knowing God’s entire plan for my life
- Judging right from wrong*
*Note: God, who is all-good, can never desire evil; God can never desire that we do something that is wrong. If we are truly discerning, then we are deciding/choosing between two (or more) good things. If something is morally wrong, we may struggle with what to do, but we are making a moral judgment or choice, not a discernment.
So, what is discernment?
Choose the best definition of discernment.
a) a search for the will of God
b) the art of communication between God and us, the art of reciprocal understanding
c) the art of living in the Holy Spirit
d) the art of entering into a free relationship with all that exists
Which definition did you choose?
In my next post, I will share my favorite definition of discernment!
Turn your favorite definition of discernment into a prayer, and carry that prayer with you through the day (e.g., if your favorite definition is “Seeking the will of God,” then make this your prayer today: “Lord, help me to seek Your will”).
Like me, have you had “frozen squirrel” moments…where you’ve not been sure where God is calling you to go next?
Do any of the following feel true…at least some of the time?
- You feel that you are placed here on earth for a reason, that you were intended to do something special, to fulfill your unique role in God’s story for the world…but you feel you haven’t found what that is yet.
- You’re discerning your vocation–or you want to discern your vocation–and you don’t know where to start.
- You want to do God’s will, but you’re not sure what that is. Or you worry that you aren’t “up to it” and so you put off trying.
- You are searching for meaning, for a deeper purpose in life. But you feel disorganized, overwhelmed, uncertain how to juggle priorities, so that you end up doing things which may be important to others…but don’t feel as important to you.
- You always wanted to be someone who “made a difference,” to be part of something greater than yourself, something that could really change lives, and you’re frustrated because you don’t feel that what you do matters.
- You worry that you are meandering through life, not fulfilling what you are meant to do here on earth, not living your own story fully.
- Looking back on your life, you worry that you’ve made the wrong choices, and now you’ve reached a turning point in your life, but you don’t know what to do…or if your choice will even matter any more.
If any of these thoughts or feelings resonate with you, this blog (which I hope eventually to turn into a book) might be able to help you to sort through your life using the spiritual art of discernment.
* Which (if any) of the above statements ring true for you? If you can, write about the one that best describes your inner state.
* If you viewed your life as a story, how would you describe where you are right now? What’s lacking in your story?
* What are you hoping to “get” from reading this blog or book?
Share your insights and thoughts here or in the comments box below!
Welcome to Co-Author Your Life with God! Here, you will be able to find resources to help you grow in the spiritual art of discernment, have your questions answered, and even learn about discernment from some mainstream movies!
Co-Author Your Life with God is set to launch for the Year of Consecrated Life (from the First Sunday of Advent, the weekend of November 29th, ending on February 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated Life). In a special way, we want to support those who are discerning their vocations to religious life. But the blog is intended for anyone interested in growing in the spiritual art of discernment–in other words, letting the Holy Spirit take the lead in our lives!