Discernment is the use of your intellect to recognize the counsel of the Holy Spirit. It is through faith, much prayer, the application of reason and listening, that we determine the will of the Holy Spirit. How do we know if we hear correctly? When we apply the good counsel of the Holy Spirit to our decision making process we obtain peace with our decision. With the use of the Holy Spirit’s counsel, He gives us His peace. I’ll use my own life as an example.
Back in 2009-2010, I was getting restless in my career as a Technology Audit Manager. I kept feeling that there must be something else for me to do, where I would no longer have to continuously tell people what they were doing wrong. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in my position. That was clue #1 that God was trying to tell me that He had other plans for me.
I kept asking myself, “What am I passionate about? If not Audit what?” Well, I took stock of where I was spending my energy outside of work. I was spending it in leadership activities at my Church. The Holy Spirit helped me to discern that my passion was my faith. I was looking for a way to witness to my faith. I told the Holy Spirit, “Okay, I’m a cradle Catholic, but no scholar, certainly no Scott Hahn! What am I to do?” Continuing to pray, a burning desire built up within me to get a Theology degree. I thought that if I wanted to share the faith, I’d better know the faith, inside and out, because evangelizing not only means sharing the Gospel, but doing so with accuracy. I went back to the Holy Spirit, saying, “How great it would be to have that degree. However, You know how stressful and time-consuming my job is these days. How am I supposed to find the time to study, let alone pay for the degree?”
It was at this time that the plan began to unfold, and the Holy Spirit showed me the way. Timing is everything with God, and all good things come in His time. While I was discerning God’s will for me, I unfortunately lost my beloved Godmother at age 95. She left me enough money so that I could retire from my first career and go back to school, to learn what I needed to start a new career.
Now, all the pieces were in place, and I was standing at that precipice of faith. Do I take the leap of faith and go back to school? Or do I stay in my job with the security of a paycheck? Again, I consulted with the Holy Spirit. “Is this what you really want for me?” My answer came through my husband, when I asked him if he thought this was a good idea and if this is what the Lord really wanted for me. My husband answered using the strangest language, a style of speech so unlike him, when he replied, “The Lord finds favor with your plan.” With that use of language I stopped dead in my tracks. Even my husband took a step back and had a quizzical look on his face after hearing what came out of his own mouth. We both looked at each other and knew: This was something I had to do. We both felt the peace of the Holy Spirit. Since that day, I have never doubted my decision. I am happy.
Four years later, I again seek the Holy Spirit’s counsel and discern His will, as I begin my new business, using my Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Theology. The direction that this business will take is not yet fully revealed, but I stand strong in faith knowing that He is telling me that:
I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe; plans to give you a future full of hope (Jer 29:11).