Friday, March 17, 2017

Discernment.

In recent conversations, the idea of discernment has come up.
What is it? what does it look/sound/feel like? How constant is it?
I decided to practice a week of discernment. For everything.
I've been taught that God is in EVERYTHING. that he cares about EVERYTHING I do.
If I believe that to be true then he is in every decision I make. What to cook. What to buy. What to wear. Who to spend time with. What to read. What paint color goes on the wall.

These are all decisions that I can make but usually make on my own. Truly. I don't usually ask for discernment on what book I should read. But could I and would it work?

I think it did. Here are three instances that were so obvious for me this week.

1. Dinner
The dreaded question "what's for dinner?" When I work, I cook less. I usually cook what I feel like eating or what is easiest. I had plenty of groceries to make a few dinners. I asked for discernment all day and by 4:00 it was "Eat the chicken". I didn't want to eat the chicken. It had to cook for 45 minutes. 45! That means I had to PLAN AHEAD! oh the struggle. A strong feeling of guilt fueled this decision. In my heart, I had to respect the chicken. my 4 pounds of chicken was going to expire within the next two days. Turn out, I wasn't gonna have the time (45 minutes) for the next two days, though I didn't know this at the time. We had chicken. In this case, I'd say discernment felt like guilt.

2. To buy or not to buy.
I am trying my best to stick to my budget. There are three things I wanted to buy - Bench legs, gallons of paint, and a bed for Reyna. I could buy two of these but not all three. Instead of asking what I should buy, I asked, "What should I not buy"? And I decided I would buy none of them until I had a clear answer about what NOT to buy. About a week later, a friend of my sent me a text:


FREE?! I'll take it! and the lady happened to have it in her car and lives downtown near us so she delivered it!
(sidenote: this group is part of the Buy Nothing Project. Information can be found at https://buynothingproject.org/ try and find one in your area. Basically you cannot sell anything. People give away things OR food, random acts of kindness, etc.)
 
It matches her room perfectly and she is so proud of it!
 
 
3. With some friends, I am reading a book called Let Your Life Speak. Its a book about vocation. I read the first chapter and immediately required my class to read it. It's something I think I needed to hear early on in my college career. Anyways, I love my job for SO many reasons. This book really focuses on using God given talents to find a fulfilling vocation. While I love my job, that would be a selfish reason for continuing a job. I like my schedule. I like interacting with students. I, I, I - selfish. I asked for a way to discern the value of my talents to those I come in contact with daily. Do they recognize my work? Would they agree that I am meant to do this? Well, what do you know. On Wednesday I got called into the Dean's office to read through my annual review. It is a synopsis of what all faculty think of my work. It was great and with above average ratings. Then, I walked to my office to find flowers at my door. They were from a student who stopped by to chat a couple of weeks prior about job vs. graduate school decisions. Then after lunch, as I was leaving, a student came to me with a gift (a beautiful scarf) and note from her mom! She is an international student and she mentioned me to her mom a few times and her mom just wanted to say thank you for investing in her child. All.In.One.Day!
 
 
 This is by no means a bragging post. This is simply a narrative of an answered prayer. This answer directly correlated with the idea of the book. What was mostly recognized by these students was not my academic acumen or test preparation abilities or even my presentation skills. It was my nurturing nature. The kindness and patience I had in our interactions. These are the gifts God gave me for my vocation.
 
This "experiment" has been hard. What I found difficult was that I still had expectations of what the "answer" would look like. I thought maybe the sale on paint would end. Not that a perfect colored bed would literally fall in my lap! I thought I might get good student evaluations. NEVER would I think gifts. It has become easier to use discernment and that makes me much more confident in my decisions. I also found that discernment looks/feels/sounds different in every situation.
 
So many words. Sorry. Thanks for sticking around!


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