I recently watched a powerful video about discernment by “Ascension Presents” featuring Father Mike Schmitz. I have listened to so many different talks about discernment before, but the wisdom he shared in this video has completely transformed the way I look at discovering and fulfilling God’s will in my life. I hope that sharing his beautiful encouragement will give you some insight into God’s will in your life and how to move forward.
When we think of discernment, we sometimes think that it is only for those who feel called to the religious life, such as being a priest or a nun. Sometimes we sit around waiting for God to reveal himself to us, or flip a coin and insist the result is an act of God. Discernment is crucial in every important decision we make in life, whether it be what college you choose to go to, whom you decide to marry and/or what career path you want to follow in life.
Father Mike points out that God has given us free will, but also the gifts of wisdom and intellect. He wants us to turn to him when we are uncertain of which path to choose, but he also trusts us to make the decisions that are best for us.
Father Mike highlights four questions to ask yourself when you are discerning what choice to make.
- Is this choice good? The decision you make has to non-contradictory towards his previous explicit teachings. For example, I can’t assume it would be okay for me to steal something because it distinctly says in the Ten Commandments that we should not steal.
- Is this choice open to me? The decision you make has to be logically possible. For example, I might want to be a part of the women’s NBA team, but the fact that I am barely over five foot tall makes that decision a closed door for me. That’s how you can sometimes distinctly know that it’s not God’s will.
- Is this choice wise for me? It’s always good to ask friends and family for advice when making a big decision that will impact our futures, but at the end of the day, no one knows us better than ourselves. Consider who you were in the past, who you are now, and who you wish to be in the future. Only you truly know best your struggles and your strengths.
- Is this choice something I actually desire? The decision you consider has to be one that you can actually see yourself doing and being happy choosing. Some might think it’s irrelevant to choose what you desire, but we are simply human and God knows our nature. If God has not reached out to you with a neon sign saying that you should not proceed or that you must choose this choice, then he wants you to use your gifts of free will and your intellect to make the decision you truly desire.
We can’t push the weight of our future and responsibility on God and live like we have no control; that would not be free will, and God doesn’t want us to be mindless robots for him. We have to face life head on and embrace the sometimes difficult decisions we must make.
Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed by the future and experience so much inward or outward pressure to make all the right decisions. We have to remember that God says to us, “Any of these choices you make, I will be there on the other side.” Even if we make the wrong choice, God is always there for us. He works in mysterious ways to bring goodness out of bad decisions and to bring beauty from the darkness. If you choose to reach out to him, he will always gently hold you and lead you back to the way of peace.
So next time you are discerning, ask yourself: Does this choice reflect God’s goodness? Is this choice logically open for me? Is this a wise choice to make knowing who I am? Is this a choice I would be truly happy choosing? And remember that God will always be there no matter what choice you make.