Jen and Arianne, two very wise young women I know recently described discernment as “a dark place with questions.” Ever since hearing that characterization, I’ve been struck by how accurate it is. Now typically darkness isn’t a very attractive place to be! And certainly we’d rather have answers than questions. But is there a different way to approach this “dark place with questions” other than with fear and trepidation? Maybe so…
Darkness is the place of fertility for growing seeds; it is also the place out of which the rising sun emerges. Darkness, even for the discomfort it might bring, needn’t be completely frightening if we can perceive that it is the place of waiting and not the final destination.
And how about questions? Contemporary society doesn’t seem to like questions and ambiguity very much—we’d much rather have straight answers and clear-cut outlines. Is it right or wrong? Should I pursue this or that? Is God saying yes or no? But the questions are what stretch our faith and deepen our trust, leading us to believe in God’s answers rather than our own. And living with the questions rather than demanding the answers is what will make us more open, more faithful, and more humble.
So, discernment: “the dark place with questions.” It could be an intimidating place of scary uncertainties…if we choose to perceive it that way. But it could also be a fertile place of stronger relationship with God…if we decide we will let it be.