Best Attitude for “Big” Discernments: Do Not Be Afraid!

Loantaka_Brook_Reservation_bikeway_horse_path_and_stream_and_reflectionsLiving 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.


Trust Our Co-Author

In the last post, I talked about how important it is to choose our creative partner well. The second key to collaborating creatively? Trusting our creative partner.

Trusting our Co-Author might be a bit harder than choosing God as our Co-Author. This is especially true when things are difficult or seem to go wrong. We might even feel worried that God will use his almighty power and “take over” our lives, and that we will be left without any real choices to make.

It’s true that our all-powerful God has ultimate control of the universe: God gave us the world and ourselves, and put us in a certain time and place. It’s also true that throughout our lives, wonderful and terrible things happen. We cannot control many of the circumstance of our lives, and the illusion that we can is a destructive lie that makes us focus our energies in the wrong direction and lose our serenity. The nature of life is gift: God creates us, provides what we need, and then works through everything—even the evil choices of others—to bring about a greater good for us and for the world.

But God doesn’t control us, and doesn’t want to! The mind-boggling truth is that God leaves us free to respond to our circumstances, including trying to change them. God values our free will tremendously, and never forces us. He might invite us, nudge us, woo us, seek to persuade us…but ultimately, which path we choose to follow, and what we choose to think, say, and do, is up to us.

God asks us to trust him, but he trusts us first, just as he loves us first.

An important motive for trust is remembering God’s premise for the story of our lives:

Our all-good God loves us and always wants what is good and best for us.

According to God’s storyview, the story of our lives will reveal the victory of God’s love over all obstacles. In upcoming posts, we’ll start to look at how God’s love is at work in the story of our lives, and how we can trust in God’s love for us, no matter how the plot of our lives is developing.


To Journal About:

  • How have I experienced God as trustworthy in my life?