Sunday, May 5, 2013

Jesuit Discernment, part 2.

I feel like I've been praying and thinking and discerning for months and months. Well, the reality is that....I have been. 

I want nothing more than to do the work God has set before me. 

The difficulty in all of this is that I am an imperfect creature, cursed by sin and living in this world. I'm just not clear about what God wants of me. How do I counter these difficulties? 

Yesterday I wrote about the Jesuit form of discernment based on reason. This form is especially important for people like me who are guided by emotion. However, St. Ignatius gave us another form of discernment to balance reason. It is based on the imagination. 

Have I mentioned how much I admire St. Ignatius? Well, I do. I was BEYOND thrilled when our new pope was a Jesuit.

Back to discernment. 

St. Ignatius gave us a Second Method for discernment based on imagination.

  • Imagine a person you have never met faced with the same decision. What advice would you offer?
  • Imagine yourself at the point of death. How would you feel about your decison?
  • Imagine yourself at the Last Judgement. How will Jesus talk with you about your decisions?
  • Imagine what your BEST SELF would do.
What I find when comparing the discernment protocol for reason vs. the protocol for imagination is two differing endings. 

My reason told me that I must respect my family: bring in a regular income and be available to their needs. This included looking at my actual options: Working at my current job. I had NO OTHER ACTUAL OPTIONS. I asked Mike to give me his opinion on all my options (start a classroom vs. working at an established school) after explaining the Jesuit discernment process.

His advice was to: wait on the opinion of the local church; think about getting more experience at a school before opening my own classroom. (To be honest, this is NOT what I wanted to hear.) I recollected the Ignatian method of confirmation outside oneself. Hard as it was, I took Mike's advice seriously. 

I prayed; I wrote out positive and negative lists; I spent hours of sleepless nights (I have woke consistently at 2 a.m. and prayed the Rosary for over a week)I continued talking with my reasonable husband (who will shoulder the financial burden of my crazy, Montessori, faith formed classroom).

What I have discerned so far: This crazy scheme makes NO sense in the world as we know it. I will likely not make a fortune. I will make an impact on the neighborhood and the children therein. This is the thing that is important.

My reason tells me that it is important to have money for our children to go to college; to have money for our retirement; to have money to upgrade out home. The problem with this type of reason is that all of these are of the world and not of God. Yet I must live in this world, I must think of my family, I must raise my children in our culture. 

We will never go on a cruise; we will never see the great wonders of the Christian world; our children will never have the most popular clothes, books or household items. To tell the truth, I don't much care about any of these things and, fortunately, neither do my children and husband. 

What we do have is this: Love for one another. The grace of the Lord. His unconditional love for all.

I continue to discern. I have so little to offer. What is amazing to me is that he continues to offer our small, little lives to His Glory.

After all of this continued discernment, I was able to come to terms with the idea of working another year at my current job. This is something I could not even consider a few weeks ago. I also worked on being patient, something I'm very bad at doing. I really did not think the local classroom was going to work due to some local regulations. After letting go of my preconceived notions and working to be indifferent, I found that my original plan may work out! 

What has this method of discernment taught me? To be indifferent (and be willing to go where God wants even if it is not where I want to go), to be patient (God works in His own time for His own reasons), to be open with those I love and respect, to look at all sides of the option in prayer, with reason and imagination. 

It is true that we must live in this world. To do so we must be reasonable but also separate from the things this world expects. If we keep our faith at the forefront and look always to love God, He will provide for our needs.

How will this all work out? I still don't know. I am continuing to be patient, to keep ALL of my options open and to trust that the doors will open at the time that is right. Not my time but God's time.

I'll keep you updated.

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