I love the word discernment. It reminds me that decision-making is a spiritual practice. And as women in recovery the spiritual weaves through everything that we do.
We have been told, over these years, that what we really want is God’s Will. We all have stories—both sad and hilarious—about the times that we tried to insist on our will rather than a Higher Power’s. We did it at work, in relationships, with money, and yes we survived to share our hard won experience. No matter how far down the road…applies to life in recovery as well as life before recovery.
But sometimes those decisions are hard, and the choices are not easy. I think that is even more true the longer we stay in recovery. A teacher of mine says, “Discernment is a choice between goods.” It’s no longer like we are choosing between buying drugs and going to school. No, now our choices are more like, “Which school?” or “Which good career move?” These are, yes, our luxury problems.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t struggle, and we have to be mindful of our egos and our savings and our responsibilities. So how do we make decisions keeping while the spiritual at the center?
I was in one of those dilemmas recently. I was considering some new training. It was going to be expensive in both time and money. What was the right thing? I had to decide. There was a deadline. I said, “Yes” and then a few days later my gut said, “No”. It was making me crazy. So I went to one of the wisest recovering women I know and laid out my situation.
Now here is how you’ll know she is wise: She didn’t tell me what she thought I should do. She listened and she asked a few questions and then she said, “There is a prayer from the Ignatian tradition that might be helpful.” And she laid it out for me.
Here is her suggestion: When you have a dilemma or can’t decide what you want you can ask in prayer—or be in the presence of your Higher Power --and say, “If this is your will for me please increase my desire, and if this is not your will for me please decrease my desire.”
Isn’t that incredibly powerful and simple? “God, please increase my desire or please decrease my desire.”
I did not wake up the next day with an answer but as I used the prayer over a few days I noticed that my desire for this class had clearly decreased. It was enough to know it was not a YES!!! and as I have also learned in recovery: If something is not a YES!!!, then it is definitely a no.