I continue to be blown away by how many people gave me so much positive energy on my Facebook post about applying to seminary and from such a wide variety of people across my life. There was a moment yesterday when I thought, Oh my goodness, what have I done?
When I made the Facebook post, I figured that it was a Friday night and most people wouldn't pay attention, if indeed they saw it at all. I was surprised that it continued to get attention and comments through Saturday.
I thought back to one of the books I read for my certificate in spiritual direction, God’s Voice Within: The Ignatian Way to Discover God’s Will by Mark E. Thibodeaux. In fact, during the past several weeks, I've thought about that book often. It was one of the first times I had seen Ignatian concepts spelled out that clearly.
I read the book back in October, so this morning I pulled it off the shelf, and I was struck by the language of visioning. Early in the book Thibodeaux says, "Later on, I will define consolation as letting God dream in me. If that is the case, then desolation is allowing the false spirit to nightmare in me. I am in desolation when I become preoccupied by false futures of impending doom" (p. 30).
I loved the ideas of consolation and desolation that Thibodeaux explores in his book. It's an interesting way towards discernment. He suggests asking these questions: "What is the most loving thing to do? What is the most hopeful thing to do? What is the most faith-filled thing to do?" (p. 47).
Many faithful people will remind us that we're either moving toward God or away from God, and that discernment can help us figure out any number of questions. Thibodeaux goes even further, saying "But Ignatius held the radical notion that God dwells within our desires." (p. 167). What if we trusted that wisdom? Our deepest, wildest desires are God, talking to us, guiding us, shaping us.
One problem, of course, is that we've been taught that giving in to our deep desires will upend our lives and bring us to a ruinous end. We might protest that we have been taught no such thing, but I'd instruct us to look at popular culture to see the evidence. Popular culture, at least a segment of it, teaches us that our heart desires what is not good for us: drugs, alcohol, the wrong kind of sex, any number of ways to avoid being responsible citizens.
But maybe that teaching is wrong. What if we started to trust our deepest desire? What if we started to act to move us to fulfillment of those deep desires?