Choosing When ALL Is Good

by Ray Reuter on July 4, 2013

decision_1As I have grown wiser (and yes older), I notice that more and more my choices and decisions are between two GOOD things. The evil spirit does not tempt me (as often) with clearly bad things. Instead, the devil lures me into what appear to be good things, which later cause me to go off course — away from my Godly mission. A simple, common example. Volunteering. Clearly a good thing. However, if that good volunteering thing causes me to spend significant time away from my family, or leads me to be over-stressed and irritable, or steers me toward arrogance or pride — hey, look at me! — then the bad guys wins. What started as GOOD has led to bad.

So, what’s one to do?! The discipline is applying spiritual discernment in decision making. Discernment is a process of making choices in the context of faith. The choices in discernment are often not between good and bad choices but between several possible actions that are potentially good. The process of discernment helps individuals to find the greater good – where God is truly calling.

To discern, I turn to God for His help in making a decision, ask some key questions, and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I remind myself that God wants me to make the best decision — He has my best interest at heart! God is partial to my happiness and well being. He desires that as much as I do. Of course He wants me to fulfill my unique purpose in life, to glorify Him and the creation I am in Him and He is in me. So relax, chill out, breathe deeply — God loves me, God delights in me, God likes me!

Now to the nuts & bolts of a process …

  • BE INDIFFERENT. Indifference is an openness to God’s will; asking God for the inner freedom and detachment from our own personal agenda to notice the better choice leading toward the fulfillment of our purpose in life. This is not as easy as it appears. I have often told myself I am INDIFFERENT only to discover I absolutely had some EXPECTATIONS under the surface.
  • FOR / AGAINST. Make a list of every possible motive “for” and every possible reason “against.” Do this without judgment or bias. Ask for light to see.
  • IMAGINE IF. Use the power of your imagination to “live” with each of the choices and project where that will lead you.
  • JOURNAL. Writing things down helps to “see yourself reflecting on yourself.” I find myself being more objective and indifferent when I read what I have written. What’s true? What am I making up? What assumptions are present?
  • STAY AWAKE. Notice what you notice, paying particular attention to your feelings. What is my HEAD telling me? More important, what is my HEART telling me? Are the feelings of consolation (peace, clarity, joy, hope, trust, love, confidence, assurance, etc.) or desolation (restlessness, agitation, disturbed, dark, fear, etc.)?
  • DECIDE! And ask God for confirmation and affirmation of the direction you have chosen. Still feeling consoled and comforted? Or not? [NOTE: I have found God will not tell me what to do. At some point, I have to decide — that’s the free will part of life. I must step forward … and then I pay attention to God’s encouraging signs or warning signs.

And few tips for the discernment journey …

  • God’s time isn’t our time and God is always on time. We must be open and willing to wait for a choice to become clear and be revealed to us. We also want to pay attention to the ordinary events of the day; we want to find God in all things for He is often a God of surprises! “God, who is creating us continuously, knows the best time to reveal something that is wholly suitable for us.” (Randy Roche, SJ)
  • This is ALL about you! Resist the urge to compare yourself to others. Be YOU! Everyone else is already taken. Own and reverence your process. Trust yourself.
  • The world is not black and white — there are many colors. Thus, refrain from thinking “right” or “wrong.” No matter the decision, God is with us, cheering us on, working all things toward good.

“Listen to what gives you joy; pay attention to what delights your heart at its deepest level and then choose that with all your might.”     – Hasidic saying

“Everyone is not called in the same way, but we are all called to discover and do the good God has in mind for us.”     – Peter Ryan, SJ

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dennis July 8, 2013 at 9:28 am

Ray: love the thoughts, great laydown…feeling the need to increase the courage and step out all in Christ’s leading, NOT MINE. thanks for your heart to write and provide equipping and tools to the Pilgrims on this journey. Dennis


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