Ideally we would always allow the Spirit of God to interact with and join us in contemplation.This is where Holy answers come to us. However it's not something that comes easily to us. It takes work, but it can be done and it can be an amazing blessing. As you get practice it does get easier. In the meantime time try these steps (not necessarily in order) and see where God takes you and the gifts given to you..
1) Write a letter to God: Use the most intimate name you have for God. Explain to God what is going through your mind. Describe the state of your willingness and openness to follow God’s direction. If you find you are feeling open then write that. There are many possible things to express in this letter...gladness about God’s involvement in your life, unsatisfied longings, etc. This is a letter between you and God, no one else will see it. This a good means of being honest with God about your openness and willingness to guidance in your decisions. It is an important beginning, and often you will become more open as you write.
2) Explore your fears about the decision you are making: First try and name them. What the consequences of your decision? What are the pros and cons? Try to let the ego influences go as you do this and look at it as if you are on the outside looking in. Ask God’s Spirit to look at this list with you and guide you as to what ego influences might determine a pro or a con. It is important through this process to remember God’s love for you. As you prayerfully list these fears or consequences picture a loving God speaking gently with you...God tenderly saying, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you...you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” ~ Psalm 43:1-2, 4
3) Take a survey of the history of your life and the decision you want to make: Remember parts of your life story and consider what they offer you in your present discernment process. This is not a time for judging rather noticing what is true. Try drawing a circle on a sheet of paper and dividing it into quadrants. Suggestions could include work, home, family, friends, etc. Now recall one occasion or situation when your truest self was at work and provided a clear sense of the ‘rightness’ of what you were doing. Describe that experience in the given quadrant.
Next, think about an experience of being tripped up or blocked by your own vulnerabilities for each section of your circle and write about that. It may have been something that caused undesired consequences or pain. Again, this is something done with God’s Spirit in mind. No one needs to see it, so be honest with God.
Once you circle is complete ask these questions: What threads run through these experiences of your truest self? What do they have in common? How do you feel as you think about them? What was satisfying and rewarding about them?
Do the vulnerable places in your ego that have tripped you up in the past still have a grip on you? How might you address them today? How do you feel as you recall them? What can you learn from them now?
Then set the paper aside for a day or so and come back to it. Reflect on it once more with the desire to see your circle through God’s eyes...maybe offer that desire as a prayer before you begin.
Once you have taken this time with God ask yourself about the decision you are making:
Is the decision sacred? In other words are you making it with God as your partner. Opening ourselves to God’s leading is a holy act.
4) Is it mine to do? There are many needs to respond to...which need is yours? Is the work really yours to do, and what part of the work is yours to do? “The Loving Presence does not burden us equally with all things, but considerately puts upon each of us just a few central tasks, as emphatic responsibilities.” ~ Thomas Kelly
5) Will this decision do the least harm? Again, this is a wise time to think about the possible consequences resulting from the decision.
Is it safe?
Is it likely to be successful?
Will it bring happiness?
6) Is this decision congruent with others I have made wisely? The answer to this question requires that we look at the pattern of decisions and the history of consequences.
7) Is this Love’s way? A decision arising from love isn’t necessarily easy or soft; it may appear strict or even harsh.
8) How do others in the community who might be affected by this decision feel about it?
9) Finally, travel each path with God’s Spirit in mind. Find a quiet time when you will not be disturbed. Take the first possibility and imagine yourself living with that decision in your life as completely as you can. Imagine all the ways it could shape your life. Become aware of feelings, physical states, and your attitudes as you are ‘living’ this first path. Write down what you notice.
Now set this aside for a day, and then do the same task with the second possibility. Try and imagine all the aspects of living out the decision and, again, write down what you notice.
Review your experiences. What do you notice about what you wrote down? What have you learned?
Return to this exercise in another day and see if anything else comes to mind.
10) We each have three centers of intelligence and one is dominant in us. The idea is to look at all three, Some of us come from the head, some from the gut, and some from the heart. Take your decision making process to all three centers of intelligence and inquire what logic tells you (head), see what instinct (Gut) tells you. And then check in with love at the heart. See if an answer comes clear.
*Some of the information gathered here comes from Nancy Bieber’s ‘The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way.’ Check it out for more information!