Listen to the Spirit … adapt as needed … stay longer where you are drawn …
“I ask for the grace to know Jesus intimately, to love him more intensely, and so to follow him more closely.” – Spiritual Exercises #104
Sometimes, the more we think about a decision or situation in our lives, the more complicated it seems to become. As we try to sift through all the different possibilities and challenges to recognize where God is calling us, it can feel as though we become even more confused or uncertain. For this reason, it is often best to seek to discern our vocation in community, among others who care about us and want to support us in our journey. This helps us get beyond our head and tap into our heart.
Imagine a mirror. If you stand with your nose pressed up against the glass, it is nearly impossible to really see your face. Once you step back and create a little distance, you can see yourself much better. Our community can help us see ourselves when we are too close to see with clarity.
Michael Himes, a theology professor at Boston College, offers three points for guidance in making decisions about where our lives are going:
Is this a source of joy? (Do you get a kick out of it?)
Is this something that taps into your talents and gifts – engages all of your abilities – and uses them in the fullest way possible? (Are you any good at it?)
Is this role a genuine service to the people around you, to society at large? (Does anyone want you to do it?)
Even after a person has made a “decision” about where they are called in their lives, there is a continuing need to reevaluate, assess, and offer thanks for that path. No vocational journey ends with the recognition of a particular calling. Vocation is always unfolding in our lives in new ways, and many of us will have multiple vocations over the course of our lifetimes. For those who are not in the throes of discernment, spend this time reflecting on something you are currently doing and believe you have been called to…
Suggested Song: Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
Grace to seek/ask: Perception
Try to keep this short, focused on how people’s hearts are as they come to the meeting.
There doesn’t need to be something written for this for each meeting, but if there is a way of checking in that would be helpful in setting the theme for the meeting, include it.
“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach, but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.” – Thomas Merton
Romans 8:5 – Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
John 6:35 – I am the bread of life.
Romans 12:4-8 – Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Listening and Sharing
How do I feel about the different possibilities that lay before me?
Do I feel unsure, confident, excited, scared, or something else completely?
Am I ready to make a decision?
Do I have a sense of how this decision fits into God’s greater call for me?
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions about the focus exercise can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach it differently such as with more open ended questions.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or similarities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
- What is remaining with you? What do you hope to return to in prayer at another point in the week?
It can be a written prayer that fits the meeting or it could also be left open.