Prayer and Discernment

Regular readers (both of you) will have recognized that, despite my best efforts, this hasn’t been my year for daily postings.  We’ve been over this a few times so there’s no need to rehash it now.  And there’s really not a problem with it either.  In January, I resolved to post more frequently yet with full knowledge that there would be days (weeks) where nothing happens between the stories in my brain and the keyboard of my Macbook or iPhone.  We’re all good.

This time, though, there was somewhat of a reason that makes some sense.  There were a few things that I did not feel comfortable sharing at the time; though I probably alluded to them and certainly appreciate your prayers.  This past academic year (the one concluding in a few weeks) saw my first real effort since completed my master’s in administration at putting that degree to use.  It was a good effort but nothing panned out.  There’s actually a sense of relief knowing that nothing is changing.  I’ll start my summer vacation soon and have the full two months off to spend time with the most important people in my life.

This could have been me but my hair's blonde (what's left of it).

This could have been me but my hair’s blonde (what’s left of it).

All along throughout this process — interview after interview — the question was posed to me.  “Why do you want this job?”  My answer always came back (quite honestly) to the notion that this was something I had been discerning in prayer.  OK, I know…  But I work in a Catholic school environment so you can be honest and say things like that.  Ideally, the people asking the questions would want to hear things like that.  Discernment is a process of prayer that begins with a seed planted by God in one’s heart.  I like to think that seed manifests itself in a budding desire toward something.  The process continues, all in God’s time, as the discerner petitions, prays, and then listens.  It’s that listening part that can be so frustrating.  Sometimes one can hear the voice of God so clearly in the words and actions of the people surrounding him.  For instance, if you seek a job and you get hired, well, there’s your answer.

For me, though, each time I’d interview I’d get called back (in one case four times).  Each time I’d think “OK, this is going well.”  But in the end, nothing.  After the last rejection I reminded myself confidently that I had been discerning and that this must be God’s way of saying no.  I mean, it doesn’t get much clearer than that now, does it?  And then last evening I had a chance to visit with the superintendent of schools.  We were both at a gala fundraiser for another school.  She approached me and said “I’ve been meaning to write a note to you.  I wanted to tell you that even though your time didn’t come this year, it WILL come.”  She thanked me for having interviewed all those times and I thanked her for the opportunity.

The thing is, I had truly come to peace knowing that my answer from on high was “no”.  I was comfortable knowing that I’m meant to be a teacher and nothing more.  It’s a noble profession.  So you can’t exactly support a family on it and there is the issue of a large amount of student loan debt I incurred while thinking this was my “calling”.  But I’m OK with this.  Doing some soul-searching I can see that I may have been proud in thinking that I should “be” more than who I am.  Was I doing this because I believed it was God’s will or because I wanted to finally be like all my friends who have “real” jobs where they get paid handsomely and get promotions and bonuses?  The world looks on these people as successes.  I look on myself as… a teacher.  But if anything smacks of pride; that attitude I had was it.  I had forgotten that we shouldn’t care what the world thinks but whether we’re doing the will of God EVEN if that will is for us, sometimes personally unfulfilling as far as our personal goals are concerned.

St. Therese, the Little Flower, once said (paraphrasing here) that she wanted to conquer her pride by praying that God treat her like a child treats a rag doll.  “Play with me as it pleases you, Lord, and if you desire to toss me in a box and never see me again, I am happy to have been yours.”

What bothered me about her statement last night was this notion that I might have to go through this whole thing all over again.  Oh well, I suppose I’m ready. Only this time, Lord, you’ll have to speak a little louder.  And to all my friends and the two of you reading this, thank you for letting me vent my little musings once in a while and for your always kind comments.  I continue to pray for you each and every day.  May you have an easier time discerning His will than I did.  Please God, we’ll all get it right and end up in the same place one day.

3 responses to “Prayer and Discernment

  1. Aaaaaerrrghhhh….I know the feeling on the waiting and discernment. In went through that a few years ago when debating on looking outside my current employer vs another place vs entrepreneuring something. The proper idea never came so I just tried to persevere each hour or day at a time and the proper door opened. Those few months for me were agonizing to say the least but Our Lord did come through!

  2. Yes, this is the key: “…the PROPER door opened.” Have faith, be patient and keep praying. In the meantime, you have no idea just how many souls you are reaching by being a theology teacher. It seems God needs you where you are right now. St. Anthony will help to find the proper door to open at the proper time – you can be certain of it!

  3. I am going through the same thing. I applied for a job and asked God not to let me have it if it wasn’t right for me. I didn’t get the job. But He probably has a really wonderful job in mind for us, better than we could have imagined.

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