Scott's latest put me in mind of a post I've been wanting to write for a while. I could do worse for a first-post-of-2008 so I'll jump on the discernment story bandwagon. I'm not going to do my whole "how I decided to go to Steubenville" story because that would take several thousand words and I would most certainly not get it posted today.
There is one thing I wanted to say on the topic of discernment, though, and it's on the relation between your own desires and God's desires for you. One of the major problems I've had with discerning anything is making the disctinction between the two--or rather, finding out if there is a distinction between the two. There was one point a few months back where I rather crankily told God, "Why don't you just write me an email and tell me what you want me to do with my life?!"
Some time later, I was at daily Mass and during the homily (given by the same priest as in this post, incidentally) Father says, "God is not going to tell you His will in complete, grammatically correct sentences arranged into paragraphs with the proper structure. He is going to change your heart to conform to His will."
God listens. If anyone ever tells you that God is subtle, they didn't hear it from me. Moments like these I call the Holy Two-by-Four. I don't know why, but it takes hearing it from someone else to make me realize something I've known for a while. In the past few years, there was a particular prayer request that I had been pestering God with pretty much constantly. Yet there didn't seem to be any answer and after two years a person gets discouraged. So one day I snapped at God, "If you don't want this, then make me stop wanting it!" I didn't stop. A few months later, shortly before I went to college, the prayer request began working itself out. So, you see, that was God's will for me all along.
Can you bear with me through another story? Okay, then. Another area that I've always had a lot of trouble with is vocation discernment. You know, the whole "Ought I to get married?" thing. I know what I want, but I've been struggling for five or six years now wondering what God wants for me. Does He really want me to personally fill a 15-passenger van, or does He want me to go be a nun and spend my life praying for this crazy world of ours? Back in October of 2005 (Was that more than 2 years ago? Man, I'm getting old.) I basically surrendered to Him my whole "12 kids and a some barn cats and a few dogs and maybe a horse or two" dream. I emptied myself and waited to be filled. And guess what? I still want 12 kids and some barn cats and a few dogs and maybe a horse or two. But I'm willing to wait for God to work it out in His own time, the way He's working out the other thing I asked for. So, I'm not currently obsessing over Step 1, namely "Get a husband". (From what I learned in freshman biology I'm pretty sure that's a necessary prerequisite to the 12 kids.) It's really funny, but since I turned 18 and thereby became dateable, for the first time in a long while I'm at peace with my singleness. I'm not really worried about where I'm going to be in 10 years. All I'm doing is praying for God to mold my heart to conform to His will, and figuring He'll take care of the rest.