Dear Pope Francis,
As I’m sure you’ve figured out from my last few letters, I’ve been discerning a lot lately. I think of discernment like building a puzzle. God has given me the pieces that I need, but I need to discern in order to understand how they fit together. Sometimes I need to discern in order to find a new piece, or to know when a piece doesn’t actually belong to my puzzle. The puzzle that I’m building is my corner of the Kingdom of God, and I don’t actually know how it will look on its own, or how it contributes to the larger puzzle, but I know that it does.
Then there are the times that God throws a piece in, and I have no idea where it goes. An example of this it LTP. I hadn’t written anything outside of school essays since 2005, and then in 2012, after I moved to Toronto, the words started gushing, like someone had turned a tap on in my head. I did more creative writing in six weeks than I had in six years. I shared some of it with people and received positive feedback. I had no idea why I was writing again, but I knew it was for a purpose. As 2013 progressed, I continued writing and realized that I needed a purpose for my writing to keep me motivated, and the idea of writing regularly for a blog came. When I worried about how I would juggle writing for a blog with school and other activities, God suggested I talk to Meredith (at this point, Meredith and I really hadn’t talked much about writing). It took us a little longer, but finally we did chat and LTP became a reality.
I don’t think LTP is the only reason why I started writing again. I believe that God is lining up lots puzzle pieces to make the grand design a reality, but He’s doing a lot of it behind the scenes. He gives me glimpses every once in a while, but it’s never enough to get a sense of the whole. I can feel it happening though, and I trust that He’s working on it.
These puzzle pieces work on the large scale across months or years of my life, like doing my M.Div. or knowing that after this it’s time to take a break from school. But building the discernment puzzle also plays into daily life.
I’ve been working to develop certain habits in my daily life, and so far, it’s been going pretty well. It would be super easy (and very in character) for me to simply make a list of all the bad habits I want to break and all the good habits I want to establish and then try to make all the changes all at once. However, experience has taught me that this method doesn’t work very well. Instead of making those lists, I’ve been discerning. I’ve been searching for those tiny, daily puzzle pieces, my habits and routines, that aren’t working, that aren’t helping me grow closer to God and his plan. It’s been a process of determining which pieces don’t fit, even though they may look like they do. For instance, I’m a morning person, and I used to be really good about getting up in the morning and starting my day in prayer. Over time, I replaced that prayer with sleeping in. I realized that, while sleeping in could be part of my daily puzzle, it’s not. However, prayer is. It’s taken some discipline to get up in the morning to pray, because sleeping seems much nicer in the moment. No amount of sleeping gives me the same outlook on my day as starting with prayer.
As I get closer to September, I become more aware of the real potential for these new habits to be derailed, because there will new puzzle pieces in my life, like classes and homework and extra-curricular activities. That’s okay though, because discerning these daily routines and habits, helps me to know that these are truly life-giving things, and that they need to be incorporated with the new puzzle pieces. Again, how exactly will this new picture look? I don’t know yet. I have an idea since there are some school habits and routines that will continue. I trust that God knows the big picture and if I listen, He’ll show me where the pieces go.
Building the puzzle,