A Way of Discernment

Modern life offers a bewildering array of choices. Go to any coffee shop and there might be as many as fifteen different ways to have your cuppa joe. Since most of us can’t really get everything done that we believe should be done in a day, we are constantly in triage trying to separate the important from the merely urgent. And once in a while, we are confronted by really momentous decisions that are life-changing.

I find that most people do all this important decision-making more or less on the fly. We ruminate on our drive to work, we think while we are mindlessly shopping, or playing solitaire. It’s that multi-tasking thing again (http://wp.me/p5FCvp-1I).

While we can’t come to a grinding halt whenever we need to choose between crispy and grilled, there is great value in setting aside time every so often to make important decisions and to evaluate the effect of the decisions already made.

For example, most of us have had to make some serious career decisions, either because we lost a job, or because an opportunity opened up. The great recession of this decade changed many people’s career paths forever, as whole industries collapsed and new ones opened. Even a choice between two good career options has consequences. It is important to weigh those consequences and see if there are things we could do to make our lives more meaningful in light of the circumstances. So, a job with a longer commute could be a chance to “read” some great literature with books on CD. What changes come to your life when you start traveling for work? Are there activities that you used to enjoy that just don’t seem to fit into your world as it is? Are you sleeping, eating and exercising the way you want to be?

Reflecting on your life while you are alone, able to be quiet, and not attending to something else can reveal thoughts and feelings that you might have been avoiding. When we sit calmly and sort through the pieces of our daily lives, patterns emerge that we might have missed. Is Thursday night always difficult because the traffic adds an hour to your commute? Could you change your schedule? Is there a friend that you used to see at a weekly meeting that now you miss?

Lastly, we need to set aside time with our spouse and family to evaluate where they are. It doesn’t have to be a formal “family meeting” (although those are good, too), but at least, you should sit down quietly with the people you love and check in. How are things going with the house, with our finances, with our relationships? Is there something simple we can do that will solve a problem or make our lives easier? This isn’t “gripe time”, but a gentle inquiry into the way things are going. Family life is complicated, and sometimes we can get into patterns that make it more so. In the busyness of our daily round, we may miss the cues that someone in our family needs love and attention.

Give yourself and those you love the gift of a few minutes of discernment as a gift of love and care.

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