The Way of Discernment (Discernment Series: Part 2)

Jun 9, 2024

With my autoimmune disease in remission for more than five years, it shook me to the core when it reemerged in full force this January. After two courses of high-dose prednisone therapy and a new medication with severe and potentially lethal side effects, I found myself uncertain as to my next steps.

The Question

Where do I go from here? What is God’s will for me, professionally and personally, in this season of diminished capacity?

As Christians, we’re taught to seek answers in God’s Word. But my situation, like most, was complex, and there were no simple, black-and-white answers. A Scripture band-aid wouldn’t fix what ailed me. I needed a Surgeon who could not only diagnose but also fix the problem, stitch me back up, and put me back on the path toward wholeness.

Who could I call on to sit with me and help me listen for the heart and will of God in my circumstances? After reaching out to a few friends to discuss the matter and still feeling a need for clarity, I contacted my spiritual director and asked to schedule a discernment session.

The Discernment Process

My spiritual director, like most, offers help in discerning God’s will. What he doesn’t do is give me advice, provide pastoral care, or tell me what I should do. He is trained to listen deeply—to God, to the directee (me), and to what is happening inside of him.

On March 26, he, his wife, and I met to discuss the shifts I had been feeling and to seek direction in prayer regarding what God might want to say to me. The process, which I’m sure will be new to my evangelical friends, is rooted in Ignatian Spirituality and includes noticing the internal movement of the Holy Spirit within our hearts and souls.

  1. It starts with the prayer of indifference, which requires a release of my preferred outcome, attachments, and ramifications into God’s care and receiving his greatest desire—his will—for my life. Rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, “Ignatian indifference is the capacity to let go of what doesn’t help me to love God or love others while staying engaged with what does,” according to This biblical precept is also seen in The Lord’s Prayer when we pray, “Let thine not mine will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
  2. We then prayed and asked for God’s wisdom in accordance with James 1:5-8.
  3. Finally, we concluded with a prayer of quiet trust, similar to what we see In Psalm 131.

Noticing without Judging

Once we laid a foundation in prayer, we moved on to the practical side, answering questions and “noticing without judging.” The questions my spiritual director and his wife asked are below:

  1. What circumstances bear on your decision?
  2. What general biblical truths affect your decision?
  3. What advice have you received so far?
  4. What in my faith tradition is relevant?

These simple questions, asked with an attentive heart and listening ear, invite more profound understanding and insight. Discussing them within the context of our small community and inviting my spiritual director and his wife to share any impressions they had were gold.

Answers or More Questions?

I had hoped for utter clarity and discernment coming into the session. While I left with some specific steps, like moving toward semi-retirement at the end of the year, I also heard God extend several “invitations” to me:

  • Could I release my need for control and learn to “flow” in this season, confident in the Spirit’s leading?
  • Was I willing to become more of who God created me to be, knowing I wouldn’t fit in the same way I had before and that I might find myself ministering in new ways and through new channels?
  • Would I open my heart to receive more of the love of God and his sufficiency?

In closing, they prayed this Ash Wednesday blessing by Jan Richardson over me, appropriately titled “Beloved”:

If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.

Do not leave

without hearing

who you are:


named by the One

who has traveled this path

before you.

Do not go

without letting it echo

in your ears,

and if you find

it is hard

to let it into your heart,

do not despair.

That is what

this journey is for.

I cannot promise

this blessing will free you

from danger,

from fear,

from hunger

or thirst,

from the scorching

of sun

or the fall

of the night.

But I can tell you

that on this path

there will be help.

I can tell you

that on this way

there will be rest.

I can tell you

that you will know

the strange graces

that come to our aid

only on a road

such as this,

that fly to meet us

bearing comfort

and strength,

that come alongside us

for no other cause

than to lean themselves

toward our ear

and with their

curious insistence

whisper our name:




Did this post stir something within you? Perhaps a desire for greater discernment around an issue? As a trained spiritual director with advanced training, I would be happy to help guide you through a similar discernment process.

Use my contact form to get in touch.