Jackie talks about the reality and importance of discernment and how we should always seek God in that process, putting Him at the center of our lives. She shares her personal experiences and gives tips on how we can always say “yes” to God’s will.
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Reflective Study guide Questions
“Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.”
St. Ignatius Loyola
- Whether we know it or not, our hearts and souls yearn to align our will with God’s will for us. What are you in the middle of discerning right now and how would you like to see your will align with God’s?
- Sometimes we can become so overwhelmed with the options of what to choose, or with the little details within those options, that we become paralyzed and unable to make a choice and move forward. Has this ever happened to you? What ultimately helped you to move forward from that?
- Jackie says we should try to discern things only when we are in a state of grace and in a season of consolation. Things truly have a greater impact on us than we might imagine. Have you noticed when you’ve made decisions before — when they were not made while you were in a state of grace or season of consolation, and how did that affect your decision-making process or the choice you made?
- We want to follow peace in our hearts and to be sure to never follow fear. When have your past decisions been led by peace or by fear? How did that influence what ended up happening?
- Small daily “yesses” to the Lord add up! How can you say “yes” to the Lord today? This week?
- Our primary purpose is to love the Lord and love one another. How can you live this out this week?
Hello, and welcome back to Pray More Healing Retreat. My name is Jackie Mulligan, and I’m going to be speaking to you today on the topic of discernment. So, before we begin with prayer, I just want to explain a little bit why discernment is so important. Whether we realize it or not, we are faced with thousands of decisions in the beginning part of our day alone.
From whether we’re going to hit the snooze button or not to if we’re going to pray to what we’ll wear and what we’ll eat, if we’re going to put cream in our coffee, if we’re going to have a second cup, what time we’re going to log on to work, et cetera. We have big decisions and small decisions that we’re faced with, especially in today’s world. And it’s important that we center ourselves and understand the fruit and the desire that we have in our hearts to place all of our decisions in Christ. So, whether we know it or not, that’s ultimately what we want is to align our will with the Lords. And so, in order to do that, let’s start off with the Abandonment Prayer together.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Father, I abandoned myself into your hands, do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you. I am ready for all, I accept all, let only your will be done in me and in all of your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul. I offer it to you with all the love in my heart for I love you Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve and with boundless confidence for you are my Father. So, Jesus, we ask that you are with us in this conversation, that you please enlighten our hearts and our minds that we may unite our will with yours so that we can receive peace and serve you with joy all the days of our life. And we ask this through Christ, our Lord, Amen. In the name Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
All right, well, I’m so excited and grateful to dive into this topic. And I think it really starts off with understanding that discernment is very real and that we have free will, but the Lord wants us to be equipped with tools to align our will with his, and if we really peel that back, I believe that our will is the same as Him, His will for us when we are the truest of true to who He created us to be.
But when we think about big life choices, like our vocations, like marriage or religious life, whether it’s to buy a house, whether it’s a health decision, it can be really overwhelming. And it could certainly paralyze people into not making decision at all, into making a decision out of fear, but certainly the Lord wants us to make decisions out of confidence and to be united with his will as much as possible. And so, I think when we look at these grandiose yeses that we should peel it back and kind of allow the Lord to speak to us and not listen to the lies that the evil one feeds us when we are discerning.
In any decision I’ve made in my life, any big or small discernment, I have had to renounce the evil one several times because he likes to come in and confuse us, especially when we’re open to the Lord’s way rather than our way. And so, the first thing I’m going to invite you to do is that you make a commitment to the sacrament of reconciliation, because when we are in a state of grace, we can receive clarity from the Lord, much more in depth and direct rather than sifting through the chaos of the evil one and our stain of sin and our own attachments and temptations. And so, do not be afraid if you haven’t gone in 30 years, if you have never gone before, if you haven’t gone in a while or what you would confess, the way to start a discernment is in a state of grace. You do not want to discern a big or small decision in desolation.
And so, we want to make decisions when we are in a place where we can with a right mind and a confident heart and a clear, clean soul make right decisions.
Follow Peace At All Times
And so, several years ago a friend said to me, if you can’t make a decision in a day, you’re not ready to make the decision. And I actually have held onto that for quite some time, because yes, of course there are timelines and sometimes we have to make a decision by a certain date. But if you don’t know the answer, the answer is that it’s not time to make that decision yet, which might mean that it’s a different decision, but we want to follow peace in our hearts. And so, we never want to follow fear. And when we’re not in a state of grace and when we’re making different decisions, or if it’s just a big decision, and there’s a scary jump that you have to take a leap of faith or a decision in your life that is hard and scary, but it’s ultimately good. We want to follow that.
So there’s a fear of lies that the evil one will say to us, but then there’s fear of not knowing what’s on the other side, that’s good fear. The fear of, I don’t know what’s behind this leap, but I’m going to do it ’cause I trust in Jesus. And then there’s this fear of you’re going to fail. You’re not good enough. You’re making the biggest mistake of your life. All of these lives of evil one feeds us. So there’s two different kinds of fear. And I want you to follow peace, even if there’s fear with it, follow peace. We’re not going to follow dis-ease. We’re not going to follow disquiet.
The way that we really understand the movements of our own heart, the movements that lead us to ultimately what we desire is saying yes every single day to the Lord, these small daily yeses, they add up to one grandiose yes. To say, Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, your the center of my heart. You’re the center of my life. And I want to what you want.
So, every little decision, like not snoozing and getting up to have adequate prayer time and to saying yes to the healthier options so that your body is in a healthy state that the Lord intended it to be. It’s saying yes to the obedience of your work schedule and committing to what you have. It’s small daily yeses. Is it saying yes to the duty and the vocation of your family, even if it’s inconvenient and not what you want to do in that moment. These small daily yeses add up to a big yes to the Lord and your decisions will get easier. Your discernment will get easier as you continue to say yes to Him.
Ways to Say Yes to God
And so try it out today. What ways can you say yes to Jesus? Whether it’s being more virtuous impatience with the people that you love. Whether it’s driving at the speed limit. What ways can you say yes to Jesus in your life today? Because that’s going to allow you to be more aligned with Him to be more aligned with what it feels like to have Christ at the center, and to really define your purpose. And I think that’s something that people discern more than anything is like, what is my purpose? And what is my vocation? And the good news is that we’re here all of us and there’s one purpose. So we can start figuring it out today. And that purpose is to love the Lord and to love one another. That is your purpose.
Loving the Lord and the People Around You
Father Elijah of the CFRs reminded my team recently that Jesus did nothing for 30 years. And so, as I spoke about rest, and as I’m speaking today about a discernment, I really want you to think about that. He took time to play, to be, to live, to love the Lord and to love Joseph and Mary. He lived out his purpose and then He had his secondary purpose, which was using his gifts and his talents and his God-given charisms to serve the Lord.
And so, as you might be hurdling these big decisions in your life, I want you to think about that. How can I love the Lord and love the people He’s put in my life today? That’s your purpose. And then, it’s, what am I good at? And what has the Lord given me? My God-given talents and charisms that I can serve and glorify Him and grow the kingdom of God by implementing? And He’s going to feed you these answers, He will. I’m smiling so big because the more we surrender and the more we pull back to simplicity and not convolute or overcomplicate these big decisions, and I’m not minimizing them at all because I know they’re big, but when it’s for Jesus, it’s simple. And when it’s for the Lord, it’s right. And He will reveal your secondary purpose after you start living out your primary, which is to love Him and to love one another.
A Difficult Personal Decision
And so, as you’re entering into discernment, I want you to think about your will versus His will. So, I was supposed to get married last year, and I made a lot of really difficult decisions. I was discerning all of these things all at once. Marriage, buying a house, my practice, pretty much like all of the big things that you could discern in a lifetime, I was discerning all at once. And when I was praying about my engagement, I loved this person so much, but I was really experiencing an inner disquiet that I could not explain.
And I knew that I had to follow peace and that, that disquiet was not something that the Lord would place on my heart. And so it didn’t mean that it was specifically because of this person it didn’t mean any of the specific reasons that we want to place blame on. It was just that it was not from the Lord or what the Lord was placing on my heart to pursue. And so, I followed that even though there was so much fear and there was so much suffering and a lot of it didn’t make sense. But I felt peace. And I had to trust that leap more than probably any decision that I’ve had to make.
And in the same time, there was a house that we could have bought together. And it was the perfect house. I mean, just imagine the most beautiful, small brick house with it’s quaint. It looks like a little house that was on the English countryside. It’s in my childhood neighborhood, there are gardens and a built-in pool. There’s an office where I could work. I mean, it was out of a book. It was perfect.
And I called my best friend and she knew everything I was experiencing in my engagement and everything I was experiencing in my heart. And she said, I know this house seems perfect. And I know it would make you happy and it would fix everything and you can be happily ever after together. But this is your will. You can take this house, you can buy this house and the Lord will bless you eventually. Or you can say, no. You can know it’s not time yet, you’re making all of these other decisions. And the Lord will bless you abundantly.
You can imagine that I wanted to hang up the phone very quickly. But I knew when Erin said these words to me, that she was so right, and that this was another decision that I had to discern a greater good, because sometimes the Lord does allow different options and different goods to come in our lives. And it’s so hard to discern, is it this good? Or is it that good? But I knew because I was in a state of grace and because my prayer life is strong. And because I say yes to Jesus as many times I can throughout the day, knowing I’m not perfect and then I am a sinner and that I need Him, that was the right decision.
And I can’t even begin to describe the abundance one year later that has happened because of that surrender from saying no to the most incredible wedding ever that was planned or the most perfect house that you can imagine you’d want your first house to be. And that’s not easy. It’s the first time I’ve really shared so much, but it’s good and it’s right. And it’s ultimately what the Lord wanted for everybody.
Offer it to the Lord
And so, as you enter into your own discernment, whether that’s your vocation, religious life, for married life or single, if it’s a job, if it’s for all the happenings in the world right now, I invite you to bring it to Jesus. And this is what I’ve done for every major decision and give it to Him. Place it before the Lord and ask Him to reveal what He wants you to do. You could even say, hand it back to me with a set of instructions and He will, in His time and in His way.
You can read scripture, which is a lot of the ways that I have unfolded answers to my discernments is through the power of scripture, but stay close to the sacraments, stay close to the Lord, allow Him to reveal the answers to you and ultimately trust because there really isn’t a wrong answer when you have Jesus. So, I pray that we can continue to abandon our wills to say yes to the Lord, to render all that we can to Him and discern clearly the good that He has for us, ’cause it’s beyond anything that we can imagin
About Jackie Mulligan
Jackie Mulligan a holistic nutritionist, Catholic wellness practitioner, and the founder of Reform Wellness. She developed Reform Wellness to help people live their happiest, healthiest, and holiest lives.
Jackie’s practice was built with God at the center, the first of its kind to merge faith and functional health. Her mission with Reform is to empower people to grow in wholeness and become the best versions of themselves: physically, mentally, and spiritually.