You have no doubt heard it said many times that "life is a journey." It's also true that the destination depends upon the choices we make. Choices, in turn, are informed by our values. "Where your treasure is, there is your heart," said Jesus.
Where does God fit into the choices you make?
Do you believe God has a plan for your life?
How would you know God's plan for you?
For people of faith, these are very important questions. We believe that our deepest, truest happiness comes from doing God's will. Discovering what that might be for us entails the following:
- We develop a relationship with God through prayer, participation in Christian community, and service
- We pay attention to the gifts that God blesses us with, and how sharing those gifts influences others.
- We notice where we find peace, joy and happiness in sharing our lives.
These kinds of practices and considerations enable us to have a sense of where God is leading us. As we grow in the love of God and discover how God has gifted us to serve, we come to increasing clarity concerning the vocation to which God has called us. Perhaps it is to priesthood or religious life, or maybe as a married or single person. Within each of those vocations, there are many other issues to discern. It can take time to sort things out, but the Spirit will be with us to show the way.
Additional practices for discernment:. .
- Identifying your options. What choices are you deliberating at this time in your life? Pick out one set and follow the steps below.
- Noticing your preferences. For a choice you have to make -- what are the options available? Which option do you feel more attracted to pursue?
- Make a list of pros and cons concerning your preferred option. Hold these before God in honesty, asking the Holy Spirit to help you make a thorough list. In your imagination, see yourself pursuing and living out this option, experiencing the pros and cons. How does it feel?
- Repeat Step 3 for the option(s) you prefer less
- Try to hold these contrasting options before God with equal detachment, praying that God's preference -- if any -- be made known through a sense of peace and inner conviction.
- Do not rush your decision, especially if it is for a serious choice and you have no deadline. Take your time and wait for inner conviction from God. You will know it when it comes.
- If possible, meet with a spiritual director regularly to discuss how you sense God's presence in your life, and how the discernment process is going. Ask your priest where you might find a spiritual director in your area.