I don’t have writer’s block. What I have is almost worse: a long list of posts I should write, and I just don’t want to. Can men and women be “just friends”? That post has been hanging out as an unkept promise for a good year at this point, and every time I sit down to start it, I get fidgety and cranky and have to erase and start a post on something else. I’ve also been meaning to write a bit on vulnerability. But since the very process of publicizing a post on that topic involves being somewhat vulnerable myself, I’ve been bypassing that topic with a backward wave for months. Also on the list: a post on budgeting. I’d love to write this one, actually, but I feel I’d better start keeping a pretty careful budget myself, before I talk about what a great idea it is.
(Okay. Maybe now I’ve let you all see some of these topics, I’ll feel forced to getting around to them eventually.)
The Number 1 topic on my avoidance list since the inception of this blog, though, has been Discernment. Not vocation, which is ostensibly what you end up with at the end of the process of discernment, and not simple joyful acceptance of life in the now before vocation (which is what this blog is all about), but the active, aching, confusing, at times terrifying journey that is discernment. I don’t want to write about it now, either, but I’ve been praying about what topic I should look at next on this blog, and he just keeps throwing this one at me.
Because I don’t really know what I’m talking about, I’ll keep it very simple–I’ll let the Bible do most of the talking for me. We read one of my favorite Gospel passages on Sunday: the story of blind Bartimaeus and his healing on the road leading out of Jericho. In the past I’ve always found myself reflecting on the blind man’s admission of his own need and want. I’m still blown away by his courage in calling after Jesus, despite the people around him telling him to knock it off. As I’ve written before, it takes courage to ask for the things we need, because it involves admitting to ourselves and to others that we aren’t self-sufficient.
Jesus is calling you.
I realize we’re all in different places in our personal discernment processes. It’s a journey each of us makes alone, regardless of who may join us along the way. I’ve left this topic alone very much for that reason. Beyond that, I have to admit to some bitterness about the whole “vocation thing.” After years and years of discerning, praying, and waiting, sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m not called to anything in particular after all. Maybe the grand high purpose of the Christian life really is only for those exceptional people I see around me every day, people God has already called to the priesthood, to the convent, to beautiful, fruitful marriages. Maybe he did his best with me, and I’ve simply failed. I won’t walk you any deeper into the darker musings I sometimes fall into–suffice it to say, in recent years I have left the topic of discernment very much alone because I’m sick and tired of it.
So those words on Sunday morning went off in my head like a cannon. “Jesus is calling you.”
There’s no equivocation in that passage, no second guessing, not even necessarily in this moment a particular something he’s calling me (or you) to or for. So I’m still in the dark about what my main life’s work might end up being and the ultimate vocational setting in which I’ll end up doing it, but I can rest assured that I am called.
The daily process of discernment rests in that trust. Whoever you are, whatever your circumstances, the Master has need of you. He’s calling you. Discernment, then, means shutting up and listening. Moreover, it means getting up and going to him. For those of us still in the waiting period, that means making time for him every day. We tend to think of discernment as this grand grappling with God, like Jacob wrestling the angel. Of course, discernment can and probably will have that aspect, especially in the beginning while we’re still bringing our wills into line with his. We don’t just leave it there, though. Beyond that point, discernment should be a daily, quiet, habitual process of growing close to Christ now so that, when at last he’s ready to set us on the road, we’re already there, itching to go, confident that he loves us.
Take courage. Get up, Jesus is calling you.