Here we are again talking about discernment! (weekly January and February)
Getting better at discernment helps us understand God, his ways, and his plans with greater proficiency. A lot of time (most of us) are trying to find our way. Learning some time-tested exercises that foster better discernment can bring more than just peace of mind, but a richer walk of faith.
The presence and movements of God are certainly a grace…pure gift. But, we can also prepare ourselves to do much better with what he graces us with. Initial recognition for starters! We start to awaken.
When practicing the ways of discernment we learn to “read God’s face” as it were. Just like you might know precisely what your friend or spouse is feeling in the 2 seconds time he or she enters your presence, we can learn to distinguish the nuances of God’s presence through familiarity and good listening.
So what of these attacks that happen to us from time to time? The things that discourage us whether from within or without…what do we make of them, and how can they derail us?
Desolations, as we spoke of before, are interior stirrings that are not sourced in God. They may derail us because they are intended to draw us away from God. Yet, they can be used to help us because God will use what he wants to for his aims…even if the original aims from our opposition may have been intended otherwise. We might call these things Weeds that grow among the good things…the Wheat. Weeds may start out looking like nutritious wheat, but as they develop we can note the differences.
We may lose heart that we can’t rid the Weeds all from our lives…and maybe, strange as it seems, some weeds are supposed to stay in place until the harvest. In truth, the Weeds teach us things we could not know otherwise. Here are some:
• Weeds may test our mettle.
• Weeds may awaken us to negligence or unnoticed and crucial interior things that need our attention.
• Weeds may draw a contrast between what is of God and what is not by clarifying the distinction.
• Weeds may aid in our dependence on God, like Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 12…the thorn and strength in weakness passage.
Have any weeds of life ever helped you?
(My sources for many of these ideas comes in part from a book my spiritual director lent to me (see below). “Weeds in the Wheat: Discernment: Where Prayer & Action Meet” by Thomas H Green S.J. To be sure this book has a decidedly Catholic perspective (if you can handle that), and sheds light on this view of discerning God’s ways through the Ignatian vantage point.)
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Want to read the other Discernment installments?
• Discernment Series (first post)