You Want Me to do What...?

Someone once told me that as humans, we are good at discernment, but not so good at deciding.  In other words, we’re good at weighing the pro and the cons, but we’re not so good at making a choice and sticking to it.  To be completely honest, I’ve never really liked the word “discernment.” I never really understood what it meant or how to do it.  Recently, I have discovered the true definition of discernment in a way I finally understand! Simply put, discernment is the decision-making process of aligning God’s will with our own; it’s discovering how God is calling us to live our lives.  Now in saying that, you can’t discern whether to eat a hotdog or a hamburger, but you can discern between an English degree or a Science degree. Discernment should be used for life-impacting decisions like what to do after high school or whether or not to get married.  Here are a few things that I’ve found helpful along my own discernment journeys:

  1. Be fully open to the will of God: if you’re not open to God’s will, then there’s no way you’ll be able to align your will with His.  Sometimes, this takes time, but pray and ask for His help! Call upon the Holy Spirit to guide you and to fully open your heart.  It also might mean accepting a “no” from God, but remember, God’s “no” simply means “I have something better planned for you.”
  2. Ask a closed-ended question: it’s a lot easier to decide or rule out options if your answer is a “yes” or “no”.
  3. Know your options: I always find it helpful to write a list and slowly rule out options as God closes doors for me.  It allows me to see everything that I’m capable of doing, and then focus on what God wants me to do.
  4. Make a “Pros and Cons” list for each of your options: this is practically weighing what’s best for your life and salvation; a way to visually represent the good and the hard aspects of each option.
  5. How would I advise me?: pretend someone (a friend or family member) has come to you, asking for help to make the same decision you’re trying to make.  What would you say to them? What do you think is best for them? Now take that and apply it to your own situation. If you were to look back 30 years from now, what choice would you want yourself to have made?
  6. How do you feel?: pay close attention to how you feel when you think about your options (especially love, joy, and peace).  Take these into consideration especially if you’re lacking those emotions. Remember that God does not want us to be miserable.
  7. Talk it out: sit down with someone you respect and seek their thoughts.  God often speaks to us through others.
  8. Invite God in: truly invite Him in.  Tell Him what you desire and what you fear.  Be honest with Him. Ask Him for the strength to do His will.

One of the biggest things that helped my discernment process was knowing that God would confirm my decision.  If I made a decision that didn’t feel right, I knew I wasn’t on the right track and I would revisit why I made that decision.  If my decision brought me authentic peace and/or joy, I knew I was in the right place.

I pray that these tips help you on your next discernment journey.

Marrick Kowalski, Team 5