Revisiting Discernment


About a year ago I gave a talk on discerning God’s will to a group of young Catholic adults. The gist of my talk had to do with discerning between two goods, and trying to understand what God’s choice is for us. I spoke about how discernment first involves getting on the same wavelength with God, first ensuring that one’s prayer life has to be in place. I concluded my talk by saying that through prayer, God will show you the way, that the path will be laid before you, and you will just have that peace of mind when you make that walk.

A year now later, I am starting to think otherwise on discernment. Prayer is still important, and that constant communication with God is impetus when trying to discern God’s will. But having gone through some of life’s experience this past year, I have found that discernment works differently for everyone. I have often thought that there is one-sure-fixed way for all catholics to discern. This “cookie-cutter” approach I believe is not the way at all.

I am starting to believe that perhaps discernment is unique to every person. The way God talks to his children is different. It’s personal and individual. Just as how we often hear (and accept) that everyone has their own way of approaching God and building that relationship with Him, likewise I think it’s the same when it comes to discernment.  What God wants for me, and also the WAY he wants me to get it may be different from yours. Perhaps your journey of faith and realization is different from others, and that’s okay.

To me, I have realized that it’s not so much what God wants of me. I have come to the realization that whichever path I choose and whatever direction I take (so long that it’s discerning between two goods), I know that God will be there for me. That if I choose to take path B over path A, God is already a 100 steps down path B ensuring that I still have enough grace to undertake the trials that may come in path B.

Now please remember that this is MY journey. I have shared this discernment view of mine with my friends and my siblings and I have been extremely careful to insert my caveat, that is this is how God works in me. It might not work for you and it should not work for you, because God’s discerning will for you will be different. Perhaps God knows that if you had to choose between path A and B, and if you chose path B, you will somehow forget God, or you will abandon God or something like that might happen and God just can’t afford to lose you and therefore He will do anything to prevent that from happening.

In my life,  it has been different. Although I have gotten most of what I have often prayed for, I believe it’s because I have always felt that no matter what decisions I make in life, I have that constant assurance of God’s love for me (this is something that I have built over the years, my faith was not built overnight, rather it was through life’s experiences I have noticed this).

Discerning is definitely a long and often boring process. Just when you think you’ve figured things out, life shows you otherwise. But the important thing to share here is that there is no cookie-cutter approach to discerning and no.2 , you need to find how God works in you and that takes

a) Prayer

b) Reflection

c) Acceptance

I mentioned Acceptance as one of the elements required, and that is closely tied with my last point : trust. To trust our Lord is also key in discernment. To know that He knows what’s best for you is impetus in living the Christian life and growing in the Christian faith. And again, it ties back to prayer.

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