In working with others on discernment, I’ve found it’s possible to reach a point psychologically where it all begins to feel very complex—kind of like purchasing an auto-repair manual and trying to go home and fix our cars by reading the text and looking at the pictures. The manual is surely helpful, but what we really need is someone who “knows about cars.”
Believe it or not, you and I have such a Person—the Holy Spirit—the very Person of the Trinity that knows the deep things of God.
And the good news is that you and I are created to interact with the Holy Spirit. We call it the imago dei. We are made in the image of God, and are in our creation, give the capacity for relationship with God through the Spirit.
Yes, we have Scripture as the normative manual. It’s filled with words and pictures to show us how to keep our lives running as God wills. We also have the witness of the saints in Tradition to give us additional inspiration and information. But finally, we have the Holy Spirit—the “master mechanic” who comes to us and works with us in the finding and following of God’s will.
And like a good mentor, the Holy Spirit cuts us plenty of slack. We don’t have to get it right the first time. We don’t have to get it right all the time. When we don’t, we call it “conviction,” which rather than being something to be feared and resisted, is actually the most positive thing that God can do to us to get our attention and move us to amend our ways—just like a mechanic friend would do if we were putting spark plugs in backward!
So….trust your soul. It’s where the Spirit dwells. If we respond to the Spirit, we will find our thoughts, words and deeds confirmed. If we resist the Spirit, we will find them overturned. But every “miss” is an opportunity to try again, until we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”