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Accidental Discernment

Since Pope Francis announced the 2018 synod on young people and discernment, youth ministers have been reflecting on how we can support youth in discerning their life vocation and their daily choices. I personally have focused on how well I discern, since I can't help youth if I don't discernment myself. And that brings me to a life-changing event which occurred in my life this past February. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the hair salon. I was only five feet from the door when I tripped over a concrete barrier in the parking lot. I broke my right arm and my left leg. (Just call me Grace!) Now I know God didn't cause me to trip. I managed that all by myself. But I realized that my spiritual task was to discern God's presence—and God's message to me—in this experience. 

God's presence became apparent in two ways. First, I couldn't live alone so I went back home to Iowa to be with family. That meant I got to spend time with my youngest sister who was dying of pancreatic cancer. The conversations and time we spent together before she passed were so holy. (Thank you, God). Second, I was totally dependent on others for almost everything—from brushing my teeth to preparing meals to getting dressed. I couldn't walk, couldn't use my dominant hand, and certainly couldn't drive. I discovered God's presence in the generous, compassionate, helpful people in my life—from my family to dear friends to total strangers. Just last week, two young men in two different airports saw me with my cane and gave me their seats at crowded gates. I experienced Christ in so many acts of kindness! So I guess I learned to thank God for broken bones! They proved to be a blessing in my life. 

I asked myself what God wanted me to learn from this experience. Being dependent has taught me to embrace patience (never my forté) and humility. Sometimes it is so hard to accept kindness from others. It reminds me that I need others, that I can't do it all by myself. But that lesson has really hit home with me. I also think God wanted to remind me of the most important things in life—family, relationships, gratitude, prayer, just being. Being forced to slow down and let go reminded me that God is the one in charge. I have a much deeper appreciation of life, family, health, and so much more. 

I hope I continue my personal discernment as I look for ways to help youth discern. What are you doing to discover God's presence? How do you seek the answer to the question, "What is God calling me to do?" How are you helping young people do the same?

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