how do you know

St Steph has a great "Weekend Wonderings" post (wonderful feature by the way my Benedictine friend). It fits into my own wonderings as I was wandering home from my groovy sister weekend at the lake.

Steph’s questions:

How does God speak to you?
How do you know what God wants of you?
Of course, these presume that you know ...
... but DO you?
Or ... do you just take it on faith and hope for the best?
These are questions I find myself asking … constantly. Hmmm… wonder why? Could it be the fact that I’m trying to figure out if a) God is in fact calling me to religious life and b) if so, is it to this particularly groovy community and if so c) why and d) what does that mean really and e) am I up to really truly answering for ever and ever amen? Big questions. Which is where the snail paced religious formation process comes in handy.

This morning I woke up early (although not the first up). My first thought upon awakening was that I wanted to write … a byproduct of my early morning blogging habit. No computer at hand, I pulled out my long neglected journal. Got some good stuff out. Even wrote a few prayers. Then I decided to flip towards the front and read through. I started this journal in May, when I was newly a pre-candidate and planning to stay a pre-candidate for at least a year due to my debt situation. Then my Dad gave me some financial help which took a year off the debt repayment and in June I applied for candidacy. Became a candidate in September, planning to be a candidate for at least two if not three years while I paid off the debt. Then a week later my Dad decided he wanted to help pay off the debt so I could move on to novitiate with the rest of my group next fall.

You’d think the incredibly shrinking timeline might freak me out. And truth be told, at times it does. But the weird part about it is that at each point so far on this journey, I have felt like I knew where God was calling me at that moment, and felt peace and joy in answering that portion of the call.

The analogy I shared this weekend and that I read somewhere is this: I’m driving in a car down a long windy country road late on a stormy night; I don’t know where the road leads, but I know that if I keep going I’ll get to my destination; I don’t know what lies around the bend, but at each point my trusty headlights illuminate my path; I can see just far enough ahead; I may be a bit uneasy and wish I knew what was up ahead, but in reality I only have the energy to focus on the immediate future anyway, especially with the wind and rain all about.

So back to Steph’s questions … how do I know? Well, I don’t REALLY know. I’m not God. But I think God speaks to us through our heart. What’s tricky here is that where God is calling me is often where I am afraid to go. So there’s often some anxiety and unsettledness as I discern those paths. But if after discernment it seems like yeah, maybe that’s what God has in mind, I make the leap of faith (and yes it is a leap of faith … often into the dark without working headlights) … once I land, I look around and see that I’m still me and I’m still standing and the fear was not of God. Peace and joy takes the place of the anxiety, and I know. Now, I’ve made bad decisions in the past where I’ve made the leap and been wobbly on one leg and fallen over and been filled with even more of an "uh oh" feeling in my stomach, and then I know that the fear was my friend and the path was not where God was calling me. Luckily it’s been YEARS since I’ve been in that situation. And looking back, what was missing from the decision making process was prayer and reflection.

Prayer is key. Listening to God. Being open.

There, rambling thoughts from my brain to yours. Now off for a rambling evening walk … God and I have the best chats on long walks.


becky said...

I don't know what religion you belong to, or if you do. But please hear me out. When I read the first few lines of your blog "how do you know", I practically jumped for joy. I get so excited when I hear people ask questions like that, because I know the answers. No, I am not God either, but I know the truths of these questions because I have prayed about it. I belong to the LDS church (yes, the mormons--please do not flip out), and through fervent prayer and study, I know without a doubt that it is true. It brings so much joy to my life, and it can to yours, too. I'm not a religious crazy person trying to brainwash you, but I know that I am very happy because of the things that I know.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...


Thanks for the visit and comment.

I'm Roman Catholic, and discerning a vocation as a Catholic Sister.

I'm happy for you that your faith gives you such joy. God wants that for each of us. And I believe will help each of us find our way to God's love and truth.

Peace on your continuing journey.