Most of the time we do not include God in our daily decisions. If we are hungry, we eat; if we are thirsty, we drink; if we are sleepy, we sleep; if we are tired, we rest… We can go on and on with different decisions we make in our daily lives, and we can make those decisions mechanically and instinctively. Some of these decisions affect other people. A great number of our decisions are related to our professional and personal lives. Most of these decisions have unintended consequences. Just a few of these decisions, we include in the spiritual realm, meaning: including God in every decision.
When I graduated from High School, I was too young. I graduated when I was fifteen. I was influenced by my peers most of the time when I was looking to the future for a career. Also, I felt the pressure from my parents to decide what I want to do. I was not sure about my future. The deadline to apply for university was approaching and eventually I never applied.
In those days, when I had to decide something I was paralyzed, giving room to others to decide for me. I felt more comfortable giving others the responsibility of taking my own decisions. These events happened most of my teen years. I did not have the ability to take ownership of my own decisions. In the same way, my relationship with God was very childish. I used to tell myself: “God would speak through other persons” (in regards my decisions). Wrong thinking! It was my defense mechanism to deal with my own insecurities. My ways of escape were all rationalized and seemed to be the best tool to cope with stress, anxiety, peer and parental pressure.
For a while, I did not take care of myself. Discernment was a word to complicated for me. I related discernment with religion, but I was wrong. Discernement has to do with the good judgment we needed to make the best decision. I never discerned seriously until I lived a retreat that included Ignatian spirituality. I discovered that I was lying to myself. At certain point in my discernment, I realized that I was trying to communicate with God in my prayer but my attitude prevented me from taking the right decisions. In my early teens, I committed many mistakes and I took many bad decisions because I was making up my relationship with God. I say things that I did not mean, and did not say things that I really meant. My life became a whole contradiction until I got to the point of not return. The root of my problems were lack of acceptance of myself and the desire to look always good. I hit the wall for the first time. I had to accept myself in order to move on. That was the time when I took ownership of my own decisions and in consequence I started assuming responsibilities.
When we do not take ownership of our own decision-making, we either get paralyzed, others take decisions for us (and then we complain) or we just lie to ourselves. Our Christian journey is full of challenges. All saints experienced these moments of uncertainty. Right after his conversion, Saint Ignatius of Loyola practiced discernment as a “super-natural tool” to decide the best option to please God. Facing hardships and avoiding temptation have to do with what Ignatius called discernment of spirits. Every aspect of Saint Ignatius’ spiritual journey include a brief Introduction to Discernment of Spirits
Are you willing to include God in your decision-making ? Do you want to improve your relationship with God by including discernment in your decisions? If your answer is yes, prepare your strategy. rules for the discernment of spirits (Spiritual Exercises, 313-336) If you find impossible to include God in your own journey, make a petition; God will respond in a timely manner. Re-start your journey by including God in some part of your decision-making. Then, you will see progress in this personal relationship with your Creator. We belong to God (1Jn 4,4), and we are called to fullfill our maximum potential with the help of the Lord; htat includes decision-making skills.
2 thoughts on “Decision-making, Discernment and our Relationship with God”
I struggle with discernment. I’m never sure if I’m hearing God’s will for my decisions or if I’m rationalizing my will to be God’s will too? It would be so nice if I could clearly hear God speaking to me answering my questions and prayers but I think all to often my ears cant hear anything but the noises I surround myself with?
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Evan, I think that struggling to hear the voice of God in our lives is something very common. In the long run practicing discernment is directly proportional to the quality of our prayer life. If I am not sure on taking the next decision, I always pray for guidance. Spiritual direction by a priest or a monk would be also beneficial. I highly recommend spiritual guidance to those parishioners serving in a ministry. May the Lord bless you in your journey…