“Never say or do anything until you have asked yourself whether it will be pleasing to God, good for yourself, and edifying to your neighbor.” St Ignatius of Loyola
In discernment, there are always two paths. One leads to God’s will and the other to your will. Which will you choose? And how do you know which is which?
I think these two paths can be broken down into more paths in the decision making. Each can have a variety of answers aligned with God’s will or your will; but there are always two main paths.
Today is the feast day of St Ignatius of Loyola. St Ignatius started the society of Jesus and is also known for his spiritual exercises. In his spiritual exercises, he teaches his pupils to meditate in prayer, seeking indifference, to contemplate their feelings and to ponder the spiritual movement of those feelings.
Why feelings? Our feelings tell us what our deepest desires are. If God has control over our desires and He places them in our hearts, then we should search our deepest desires for direction. Just as in the picture above where a red flower has grown in the center of the trees between the two paths, God is at the center of our being. When we have feelings that are joyful, satisfying, fulfilling that gives us life coming from this core, then we know with no uncertainty those are from God. The choices in life that produce these feelings within that center are from God. This, my friends, leads us to the path aligned with the will of God.
What happens if I choose the other path, the path of my will? Will I be struck down by lightening? Will God be disappointed in me? By no means will God bring wrath upon you or discontent. There are no wrong paths as long as they do not involve sin. God will walk with you no matter the path. A wise person told me the flower in the middle of the path can also represent that God will bring fruition on both paths, whichever we choose.
Why discern if God will bring fruition upon either path? I think it is important to search and make the best choice. Perhaps in doing so, one will bring more joy and peace in fulfilling the will of God and the other less. One will be more life giving than the other, yet God is still present in both.
As you discern your life choices, don’t forget to include God in your discernment. Don’t forget to search deep within to identify with your deepest desire and ponder the feelings that bring exuberant life.