Sometimes trying to discern God’s will can make us feel like we are sheep with 1,000 shepherds.
Everyone is an expert when you tell a story about discerning a vocation or a relationship. We get an opinion from our mom, sister, priest, spiritual director, friend, coworker, online columnist, maybe even your manicurist.
Many a time I’ve gone into the spa or nail salon hoping to come out with poppy pink nails and instead got life advice on how to snag that guy who just won’t commit. Thanks Pam, I love the color, but now I’m even more confused.
When we get different advice from several trusted sources, it can be hard to tell what the right choice is and where God is speaking.
Maybe it’s obvious God speaks through the voice of your spiritual guide instead of the chatting manicurist. But maybe her advice resonates with you most. Which shepherd is really Christ, and are the rest just disguised wolves?
I find it helpful to look back on how God has spoken to me in the past. If he speaks to you through people and you have always felt him through your spiritual guide, maybe this is his voice. If he speaks to you in unexpected ways that often match up inexplicably, maybe it’s the manicurist.
Maybe he isn’t even speaking to you through one specific person, but just in the silence of your heart.
There have been times where I feel God telling me one thing in prayer, and then immediately after, a spiritual guide tells me the opposite. This is particularly terrifying because we feel like our whole relationship with God must be made up, confused or have a bad connection. But if God normally inspires you in the silence of your heart, this is more reliable than any outer-imposed words from another flawed human instrument.
It’s like asking for directions to Cleveland from the experienced driver who has taken the route many times before and getting different directions from a hitchhiker. One might not seem as credible, but even experienced drivers get lost.
We can always trust the road signs of peace.
If the advice of a friend causes peace, it is most likely to be from God.
However, we must also make sure that something is not causing us to lose our peace just because it isn’t what we want to hear. Trust your conscience and peace together. If you’re conscience is uneasy about the advice of a friend, but it is what you want to hear, take time to pray about it.
If something causes you to lose peace when you are in a trying to find God’s will in prayer and receiving the sacraments, chances are, it’s not from Him. The Holy Spirit normally brings peace to those living a life of grace while the Enemy tries to ease the soul when it is in moral sin.
Our peace is highly opposed by the Enemy, and he will do whatever he can to take it from us and throw us off the course of God’s will.
There will always be some worry or fear he uses to get us to lose our peace, and it’s often sneaky. He can even use our best intentions to seek God’s will to cause us to lose our peace if we are not hearing an answer quickly enough.
But God will prevail.
He is the one and only shepherd and he will come for the lost sheep. He will come to find you when you stray, especially if you are seeking him. God will not hide his plan for us when we try to find him, he longs to reveal it to you, just in his own time.
And it may come from a shepherd you don’t expect.