When can I stop discerning and start doing?
“When can I stop discerning and start doing?”
Do you ever get stuck in the cycle of discernment, looking for a sign or some roses or a billboard that will tell you which way to go (ps if you want to hear an epic story about that rose⬆️, send me message!)?
If you’re anything like me, you might tend to spiritualize… everything. Novenas, fasts, rosaries, and spiritual direction are all incredible things to guide us in our lives. BUT there can be a tendency for over-reliance on these tools that keeps us from taking action and moving forward. The question is: at what point do we stop discerning and start moving?
I’d like to clarify that discernment never really ends. Moving forward doesn’t mean that we cut off communication with God and just swing for the fences. But God can’t drive a parked car. As St. Joan of Arc famously said, “Act and God will act, work and He will work.” Sometimes the next step in discernment is taking a step forward, knowing in faith that God will redirect your steps if He wants you somewhere else.
Here are some ideas for how you can take action in your discernment process:
1. Ask for help
A third party can often help clarify what our desires. Reach out to someone who is living each of the paths you’re considering. The more we know about an option, the more clearly we can discern if we’re called there or not.
2. Take Action
Using your best judgement, start to walk the path towards one of the options. If it’s grad school, attend info sessions and study for the entrance exam. If it’s living in a new place, start applying to jobs. If it’s a relationship, go on a date. Action helps us discern the spirit.
3. Remember: discernment is between two goods
There’s no need for discernment if one option is clearly a bad idea. Discernment is meant to help us decide between two goods. That’s good news! It means that both options can glorify God. Do not be afraid. Step out in faith.
I’m rooting for you! If you’re looking for great resource for discernment, check out Fr. Thibodeaux’s “God’s Voice Within.”
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Jane Kennedy lives in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and works in criminal justice reform. When she’s not working or writing, she’s probably catching up with friends on FaceTime, getting lost in Rock Creek Park, quoting C.S. Lewis, or trying to recreate Salt and Straw ice cream at home.