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  • Writer's pictureSrs of the Precious Blood

Don't Stop. Pause.

Don't stop discerning in times of trial. Pause. In other words, do not make any decisions when you are hurting, depressed or discouraged. St. Ignatius of Loyola instructs us in his spiritual exercises that these times may be bouts of desolation, when we feel further from God. Ultimately, if we want to make decisions in line with God's will, then we must be close to God in order to do so.

Psychologically, there's also evidence that we do not always make the best decisions when we are depressed or discouraged. Our outlook tends to be jaded and instead of being realistic about a situation, we may be pessimistic in our decision-making.

We've all seen this. After a difficult break-up, our friend might want to enter another relationship soon after. Normally, we advise our friend to allow some time to pass before jumping into another relationship. After losing or quitting a job, someone may want a dramatic career change or relocation. The best thing to do is usually to allow some time to pass to see what is truly desired.

In vocation ministry, this can translate to women seeking to join a religious community after a divorce or break-up. Healing hurts and sometimes it's easier to re-focus on energy on a new thing rather than dealing with hurt in front of us. However, with time, that hurt will resurface. (Trust me, I've been there!) Sometimes women who are already in discernment will discouraged and wish to cut off all contact with a religious order after a bad experience at work, home or even in Church. Many times when we are following a holy path, worldly things can try to discourage us from pursuing God.

Times of desolation are normal in our spiritual lives. Normally, they're not cause for concern. However, we should pause any major discernment and simply seek to grow closer to God during these times. Increasing our participation in the sacraments is one way to do this. Asking others to pray for us is also a wonderful way to seek the grace of God when we feel far from God ourselves.

After a few weeks or even months, when we are feeling reconnected with God, we can return to our decision with refreshed spirits, ready to truly discern without worldly discouragement weighing us down. So, don't stop discerning. Just pause and resume later.

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