College/Making Decisions/My Life/Teen Life All is Gift… Even Discernment by Patricia Moes May 1st is a special day for every high school senior. It’s not just any day; it’s college decision day. And at my high school, it was even more special because it was the day seniors could forgo their uniform and wear a t-shirt from their selected school so that everyone could see what they picked. I, however, wore a question mark. I was graduating from high school in a little over a week, and I had no idea what I was doing next. After years of maintaining my GPA, extracurricular activities, leadership positions, service hours… I could basically pick anywhere to go to college. But I didn’t know how to. I had grown up showered with the truth that God has a plan for me. So when it came time for me to make a decision, why couldn’t He give me a little peek at the map? Couldn’t He see how lost I was? If you’re a senior in high school, or just a person in general, I’m sure you’ve felt this way at some point. Let’s shatter a crippling metaphor: God’s plan for your life isn’t a map. If it were, that would mean you wouldn’t have free will. A God with a map would be a God who forces Himself on us. A God with a map would be a God of judgement who wouldn’t care when we took a wrong turn. This simply isn’t true. God doesn’t want you to follow a map. God wants you to follow Him. Brothers and sisters, discernment is a gift. It’s a gift because He’s inviting us to spend time with Him. He brings us to the crossroads hoping that instead of walking in circles trying to figure it out for ourselves, we’ll walk to Him. He wants to walk through life with us. The only “plan” He has for our life is a relationship with Him. God does care about the choices we make, but it’s because He cares about us more. He uses our choices to draw us closer to Him. I know sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Confusion, stress, pressure, and wearing a question mark when everyone else already knows what they’re doing doesn’t exactly feel like a gift. But that’s the beauty of discernment! God knows us better than we know ourselves. Even when we think we’re ready to act, He sees we’re capable of more and asks us to wait. Whenever we discern God’s will, we’re really just discerning ourselves. Discernment is about asking God to reveal to us the person He created us to be. Through this deeper knowledge of self, you’ll be able to understand what God made you for. Knowing who you are and whose you are makes it easy to choose what you should do. The only way for God to reveal this to you is through a conversation. So if you’re trying to figure out a situation: Spend less time thinking about it, and more time praying about it. I have a habit of worrying about something, just to realize I haven’t invited God into the situation. Like I said earlier, God is all about our free will. He won’t force Himself on you. But if you let Him in, He’ll show up. Listen to the right voices. God’s voice carries peace, joy, and love. Satan’s voice carries insecurity, chains, and hurt. For example, if God wants you to let go of something, He’ll encourage you. He’ll remind you that He always has something good in store. Unlike the Creator, Satan can only twist, therefore he’ll try to make you bitter towards that thing God wants you to let go. One voice wants you to move on in peace, while the other wants you to move on out of disgust (which, let’s be honest, isn’t really moving on at all). Trust. Whenever I struggle to trust God, I remember that He’s already trusting me perfectly. The God of the entire universe trusts you not to leave Him even when He’s not giving you an answer right away. If you’re finding it difficult to trust God, I encourage you to look back on your life and see all the ways He’s been faithful to you. Recognizing His presence throughout your past will fill you with gratitude and give you hope for the future. You have no idea how proud I am of you for asking God to help you through this rather than trying to do it on your own. You’re doing the right thing. In fact, coming to an answer slowly doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong at all. Remember, discernment is just God inviting you to spend time with Him. Rejoice in this opportunity! Be intentional about your time with Him! This is your chance to learn what His voice sounds like, to hear how every single syllable hopes to emphasize His love for you. Could there be a more precious gift than this?