Monday 13 April 2015

Finding God's Will

God is not a micro-manager. In fact, I would not call God a manager at all. God is in all things, just being. Possibly He is also singing, and if we listen, we might hear Him. But maybe not.

There are many, many documents in which we can read about the Will of God. There are the Scriptures. There are the mystical testimonies of the saints. There are even private revelations. But there are no personal horoscopes for you, Suzy Q, 142 Dreaming Lane, Dreamsborough, CT, in which God says, "And on May 23, 2016, I want you to..."

If you don't read the Scriptures or even what Saint Augustine or some other great saint has to say about what he or she has discovered about the Will of God for his or her own life, then you can get pretty messed up worrying about the Will of God all the time. 

Meanwhile, if you don't even know what YOU want to do with your life, how are you supposed figure out the Will of an Omnipotent Being for your life? Do you know what the will of your parents is for your life? Have you ever even asked them? They, too, are the authors of your life, so asking them might be worth a shot.  

Naturally, you may already know. I spent my childhood doing a lot of things my mother was not allowed/able to do as a child and very much would have liked to have done. She made real financial sacrifices to make sure I did them. Her idea was that I should be "well-rounded." 

I did not actually trust in my mother's insistence that I be well-rounded, which is too bad. Had I been less resentful of my lot and more trusting of my mother's goal, I would have started saying "No" to the activities I really, really hated and proposed alternatives. If the goal was "well-rounded" than there must have been other ways to round me off. I am absolutely sure that my mother did not want me to look back on my childhood as almost unalloyed misery, divided between the horrors of elementary school and the horrors of planned activities I hated. Thank God for Brownies and Girl Guides, say I. 

When you are a child, your parents might as well be God, for they have all the money and all the power they don't give over to teachers, and if you say no to them, you are punished. But as obedient as they may have liked their children to be, they would have been disturbed if you spent your life waiting for them to tell you what to do. Of course, asking their opinions in important matters would be a different story. They like that although, depending on their generation, they might not like the feeling that you will hold them responsible for their advice, should it turn out to be bad. 

Still, since God put you under the authority of these people and their teachers, you might just hear His voice in the things they say. Either something will fill you full of joy and relief--which will be a big YES, LISTEN TO THEM--or it will make you feel rotten and hopeless--which will be a big NO, THAT'S NOT WHAT I ASK. God may allow others to make you feel rotten and hopeless--He gave them Free Will, after all--but that does not mean He wants you to go through life feeling rotten and hopeless. What a waste of a life that would be. 

God also put you under the authority of the state--says B.A., who is not an anarchist and says I should read what the Catholic Church actually teaches about the legitimate authority of the state--so it might be helpful to see what the state would like you to do, too.  If the state is crying out for doctors, and you are crazy about biology, then perhaps you should consider training as a doctor. And again, joy and relief versus rotten and hopeless are good clues as to what you should be doing. 

And then there is the authority of the Christian Church, which has a lot to say to young people, so it might be worth reading it. Maybe I should actually get around to reading this. It came out when I was fourteen, and sadly I simply didn't understand it. It made me feel rotten and hopeless, actually. But what this meant was that I needed catechetical materials for a fourteen year old, not diving into papal encyclicals without help. 

In our day and in our western civilizations, marriage is seen primarily as companionate, and it takes place after a falling in love.  Things "feel" right when we have fallen in love with them.  My brother fell in love with the piano when he was six, and with the computer when he was about thirteen. Piano and computer have shaped his successful and rather enviable life. Nobody had to force him to practice the piano; he didn't practice the piano to ward off punishment. He practiced because he loved it. He also learned computer programming because he loved that, too. And despite my mother's worries that my brother not be well-rounded (and grounding him off the computer if he fell behind in schoolwork), nobody ever thought God's will for my brother did NOT involve piano and computer. 

As God is Love, your  most loved activities should most definitely be taken into consideration when determining God's will for your life.  And I mean rational, absorbing love, not carnal itching or painkilling distractions. How you feel about Reese's peanut butter cups, Ryan Gosling (unless you are Mrs Gosling) and Doctor Who (unless you are a scriptwriter/costume designer) is pretty trivial.  He gave you the real loves, after all.

A word about Older Women Who Love to Give Advice. There are two kinds of older women in the world: older women who like younger women and older women who resent younger women and hate them like fire. Some older women are frank about their love or hate. Others are sneaky. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky. If you've ever been stabbed in the back by a woman mentor, you will know exactly what I mean. 

And because older women can be sneaky, they will sometimes give you very bad advice, on purpose. They will counsel you to have sexual relations with someone before you are ready, or despite your religious beliefs that such a thing is seriously wrong, because (A) they know just how devastating such a thing can be and (B) they want to take you down a peg. There are women who don't want you to make their mistakes, and there are women who most DEFINITELY hope that you do. 

This is yet another reason, by the way, why you should not talk about such personal matters at work. Yes, women in woman-dominated offices do love talking about such personal matters and will pressure you to do it too. That said, I have learned a lot of good things from women in woman-dominated offices. I have even been challenged to be a better Christian by a most unlikely source, and in a totally unoffensive (if surprising) way. My advice for offices like that is to be a good sport about the recipes, the horoscopes and the internet memes, but to graciously sidestep the sex talk. Note other women who refrain from sex talk and make a point of befriending them.


  1. This is so good to hear. I sure wish I'd heard this kind of stuff in college! I, and so many girls I knew were so deeply confused about "God's will." And to any young person who feels that way now, I'd say don't, whatever you do, go ask a young, strict, zealous-about-religious-life priest for advice! Do yourself a favor, and seek out a kind old monk or reverend mother from a traditional order. That'll put you right as rain!

  2. Thank you! It distresses me to think of nice Catholic boys and girls turning themselves into knots about "God's will" like life is one giant game of God versus human chess, and if you make a wrong move, God will blast you with lightning. "Oh, you stupid human. You did not corrected discern My WILL! Now you will PAY!"

  3. Oh, I just remembered what I read in the Divine Office, Lauds for Friday. This is from Isaiah, chap. 45: Thus says the Lord... "I am the Lord and there is no other. I have not spoken from hiding nor from some dark place of the earth, and I have not said to the descendants of Jacob "Look for Me in vain." Turn to Me and be safe, all you ends of the earth....


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