I spoke to others, but forgot to apply it to myself.
As an imperfect human continually striving for health and wellness, I go to therapy every few weeks (10/10 would recommend!). As I sat in my most recent therapy session, I talked with my counselor about some decisions coming up that seem a bit daunting. In my graduate program, the professors constantly emphasize that they “guarantee safety, not comfort,” in order to foster our growth as future counselors, so with these upcoming decisions, I know that I likely will not remain in my comfort zone. However, I do want to be holy, happy, and healthy, and I really struggled with knowing how to achieve this.
While talking things out, I came to the realization that I already knew the answer to my ramblings.
Only a couple days prior, I had visited a local school to give a talk to their students about making moral, prayerful decisions. Each time I gave the talk, I detailed several different ways to make decisions while listening to God’s call, and the importance and implications of doing so. I referenced ways that I had used these strategies in my own life and how they had proven beneficial for me as a young Catholic. I had literally spent the beginning of that week praying, thinking, writing, and preparing for how to speak to these students about this topic, yet here I was in therapy struggling to know how to proceed with decision-making.
After forgiving myself for my lapse in memory (if I can even call it that), I became newly convicted to practice what I preach. I thought about the suggestions I gave those students, and applied them back to myself.
Any decision can be made prayerfully, but one strategy for making some of life’s bigger decisions has proven extremely effective for me over the past few years. It’s something I call the “decision trial run.”
This strategy works when we have a few different options of something where none of them is necessarily more holy or more good than the other, and they may each result in a positive outcome, but we still have to make a decision. How it works is we lay out all of our possible options, however many there may be. We then designate a series of days to test out each of the options, one per day. On the first morning we wake up and live through our day as if we had already made the decision and chosen one of our options, to the greatest extent that we can. Throughout the day, we take special notice of our thoughts and attitudes towards having made that selection. On the next morning, we wake up and try out the next option of our decision, doing the same thing as the day before. We repeat this until we have tested out each of the options. Throughout this whole time, we pray especially for the Lord’s guidance and for Him to lead us toward the option that will bring us to the greatest fulfillment and use us for the greatest purpose. We remain open to each of the possibilities in front of us and listen to the stirrings of our heart.
In my experience, after completing a trial run of each decision, I just know which choice is the right one for me. I don’t know how to fully explain it, but testing out the decision allows us to make a more educated decision about what might be good for us. We will never fully know God’s will, but we can make the best choice we can with the knowledge we have at the time, and then stand by that decision. Try it out. Trust your heart.
While we all have a plan set out by God, we also have free will given to us by Him so that we may choose how we live our life. This can be overwhelming and daunting, but placing trust in our Creator allows Him to inspire us and use us in ways that we might never expect.
As I found out through temporarily forgetting about my message from only a few days earlier, it can be difficult to live out the words we speak. But the phrases we use to uplift and encourage others should reflect back into us in the way we live out our call in the world. The decision is yours.
In Joy, Monica
And your ears shall hear a word behind you: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or the left.