Decision Making and God's Peace
Many of us feel confused and anxious when it comes to making major life decisions. How should we spend our money? Who should we marry? Where should we live? What job should we take? These and countless other questions can be difficult to sort out. How can we experience God’s peace in the midst of such life-altering choices?
The best advice I have encountered on this topic comes from a man who surrendered his life to Christ in the early part of the sixteenth century, Ignatius of Loyola. Based on his own experience, Ignatius wrote what would become a spiritual classic. The Spiritual Exercises is a book that offers uniquely helpful guidance on discerning God’s will for your life.
In The Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius reminds us that we should make every decision with the proper end in mind. For a Christian, that end or purpose is to deepen our life with God. Embracing that principle reduces our anxiety because we realize that any decision we make is merely a means to that end. And why would God not want to help us when he has already told us, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8)?
As we pray, seeking God’s will for our lives, Ignatius tells us to notice how we are feeling. Pay attention, he says, to feelings of “spiritual consolation” (every increase in hope, faith, and charity) and to feelings of “spiritual desolation” (feelings of darkness, disturbance, temptation, and disquiet). Ignatius advises us to make the decision that moves our hearts toward spiritual consolation rather than desolation.
Of course, we should also seek the counsel of mature Christians who know us well and who can confirm or question a direction we are considering. Decision making doesn’t have to be fraught with confusion and anxiety. Instead, we can experience God’s peace as we seek his will.
(Image courtesy of Ramkarthikblogger at flickr.com.)