For me discerning comes in all shapes and sizes. There is the discernment of a spiritual nature, emotional nature and of the physical nature. Finding and discovering my natural gifts and challenges all fall into an ongoing discernment. Over a year ago, I wrote this about discernment:
Discernment is the tool we use…like the tools that help us weed our gardens, clean our homes, and cook our meals. Discernment is that great listening in the quiet that helps us achieve God’s goals and push out the needs of our egos. Discernment is the challenge that I face everyday.
I used to cook professionally for a living. I’ve been using a cooking analogy lately that has been helping me to discern my current path in my ministry. Have you ever seen stock prepared, cooked? The stock is the basis for all great sauces in the kitchen, one of the mother sauces. Preparing stock is a long process that cannot be rushed. It is a tireless effort of roasting, deglazing, boiling, skimming, and waiting. Each piece of the process is as important to the finished product as the next. Each step must be given its time. Each step must be honored. In the boiling step, the pot must remain undisturbed so things can settle to the bottom and the other elements must rise to the top and be skimmed off. The grease must be removed. In the end, if the process has been honored, you have beautiful, clear stock that is flavorful and the base for most sauces or soups you can make. It is the foundation. It takes time, energy and patience.
So it goes with discernment. When we discern our path each day, each week, each month or year we must listen carefully and let stuff settle to the bottom and let the stuff rise to the top to be lifted out and off. It’s the stuff we don’t need anymore, the stuff that was important at one part of our journey, but its job is done now. When we listen, we wait, we discern, we come to clarity….sometimes! Other times, the pot gets bumped or stirred and we have to begin the process again.
Today I am having some other thoughts. Discernment comes in waves for me. Today the wave is how to be more successful – in mostly worldly ways – financially…but also in the ways that I struggle with daily…mostly being a loving person and parent that is a guide and teacher leading my children closer to the person they will become-not being a fearful parent who’s need to protect outweighs my children’s own need for growth. I want to help my children to discern their path and encourage them along the way by nurturing their gifts and the areas where they find challenge.
In my childhood, I don’t remember being nurtured in this way. I am not assigning blame here, it just didn’t happen. No one said to me – for example – “wow, we see that you love to write – here’s a journal or I’d love to read your poetry” or “I see that your faith is so strong, what are ways you might use that?”. It just wasn’t like that when I was a kid. I don’t know if that was universally true or just in my home and school. It is probably why it has been such a priority to me as an adult. I really feel that most my gifts and talents were self searched or found by accident and most times in my adult life. The discernment of gifts became a career for me when I was a youth minister. I served by recruiting, training and helping others discern their gifts and talents…both adults who served our young people and in the youth as they sought their way in our time together. In my personal life, I have always hoped to be able to do that for my own children. As I watch my son grow into a teen, I wonder how much my loss of his father has impeded me from helping him blossom. I know this loss will affect each of us differently, but when his dad died, so did the mom he knew for the most part…I have become a different parent(a much less efficient and crankier version, I must mention), a single parent, a struggling parent without a partner to share the ups and downs of parenting with…I guess today, that is also something I’m discerning. How do I become a successful single parent?
Discernment of new gifts that arise from my current situation is a difficult journey for me. I have not gone to this role of single parent willingly. I wanted a co parent, I wanted to share a life with my husband raising our boys. But, that is not our path right now…right now, whether I like to admit it or not, I am a single parent. Many days I measure my success by the goals as parents my husband and I made together and I end up feeling hopelessly unsuccessful. I think that is why today I am discerning again. I obviously can’t be two parents. I can’t live the life of a two parent family – I learned that after about a year of being alone – it almost killed me trying to keep everything the same as when my husband was alive. Now as years pass, I can begin to see my gifts. I am definitely a survivor. I can endure and persevere. I can overcome my anger most days and be loving and kind. I can nurture my talents – this blog is one way I do that. I have reached out and found help to survive…because, I humbly accept that I cannot do this alone. I find outlets for my son to learn things that I can’t teach or experience with him right now because of his younger sibling or my own sadness. These are gifts I have learned that I have…but how do I role them up and nurture them into success – actually, maybe it’s not success I want, but peace of mind. How do I find that peace of mind again? How do I discern not only my path, but the gifts we have as family to get there?
More discerning…but peace of mind is now a goal…whether it be in fleeting moments or consistent flow…it is now a goal…found through discerning another day……