By The Daughters of St. Paul
1. Give yourself time to make a good discernment
Think of your discernment as a journey in which you will grow personally and closer to God. The best discernments aren’t rushed, but lived in openness and surrender to God.
What kind of a timeframe should you set? On the one hand, you don’t want to be stuck in indecision, waffling back and forth endlessly; but rushing isn’t helpful either. A reasonable timeline is a year to two years, although there are reasons for a discernment to last longer. Why so long? To put it briefly, you will need time to research, to pray, to benefit from spiritual direction, to grow in your relationship with God, to test your vocational choice. This is a lifetime decision you’re making!
2. Use the resources you have to learn more. God wants you to use your head as well as your heart.
Gather information and knowledge about what you are discerning. Talk to the real experts. If you are discerning religious life, gather information about several communities that appeal to you. Visit their websites and learn about how the sisters live, their prayer life, and their mission. Call a sister and ask for more information. Visit their community or make a retreat with them. Can you picture yourself living this life?
If it’s helpful, make a list of pros and cons. The length of the list doesn’t matter, but try to focus on which pros and cons are most important to you, and spend time praying about them.
3. Pay attention to what’s going on in your heart.
Even after you’ve weighed the pros and cons intellectually, you might need space and time to understand how your heart was moved. Did something particularly attract you, repulse you? Why? Did you feel at peace with one thing more than another?