How do we know if God is calling us to something new? Do we live our present “calling” more deeply? Or go in a different direction? I think there IS a way to know what God wants—as much as a human person can know the mind of God, and that is through the process of discernment.
People throw that word “discernment” around rather loosely. Not every decision or choice calls for discernment (e.g., which movie to see, or what to get my nephew for his birthday). But when life presents us with really important or hard decisions and we want to tune into God’s voice, when we want to align our will with God’s desire for us, discernment is an excellent reliable tool.
The underlying premise of the discernment process is that God WANTS us to know which way to go, and the way we will determine that is by listening to the movement of our heart. So, how do you know if God is calling you to something else? Listen to your heart. When you think of remaining where you are, does your heart feel peaceful, uplifted, energized? When you think of staying where you are, do you feel darkness, weariness, or dread?
Discernment also involves laying out the pros and cons of each option—doing some “head” work on the choices before us. Taking time for prayer and seeking advice from a spiritual director or a wise mentor are also important. Sometimes the Spirit uses dreams, conversations with others, even song lyrics to catch our attention and signal the wisps of a new direction. So if you are getting restless stirrings, hunches or ideas out of nowhere that something new is afoot, these could be nudgings from the Spirit leading you to a new path.
Of course there are times in our lives when the call is to fidelity—to staying with a commitment even when it starts to get tedious or challenging. This could be the very time when great growth could happen. Wishful thinking or wanting an easier path is not the same as the fresh breeze of the Spirit calling us to something new.
But very simply, God speaks to us in the depths of our hearts, and it’s that deep-down listening to your heart that will let you “hear” God’s loving call.