About a week ago, I wrote that "you just know" is the most true yet least helpful discernment advice. Yet "you just know" is more complicated than it seems. I know that, everyone else who's had that feeling knows that, but perhaps you don't. Perhaps you're still searching, still waiting to experience that "you just know" feeling.
If you are, allow me to dispel some "advisories" about this "I just knew" feeling, based on my own experience....
- It's not instantaneous. God gives you His plan in His own sweet time. I first met the Daughters of Charity in March of 2004. And here I am, in August of 2011, joining them seven years later. It took a good while for God to finally reveal where I belonged.
- It's not magical. Well, yes, it is but what I mean is that unless you're really special, God is not going to start talking to you in a burning bush. It's more like Elijah and hearing God in the whispering wind. (Notice the word "whispering" - it usually takes a long time to really hear Him and then you realize that He's been talking to you for awhile now and you, like a dummy, didn't even know it)
- It doesn't come without prayer. There's lots of prayer involved. Lots. Because you wonder "is this really what I think it is?" At least, for me, it took a lot of convincing myself to believe that yes, this really is it. I finally realized that it wasn't pure coincidence that I felt so at home, with the Daughters of Charity and with the charism and everything. It felt different than with my past Salesian community but I didn't want to repeat a "mistake". And it took a lot of prayer and reflection to reach the point of saying "Yes, this is it, it has to be. I just know."
- It's not without work on your part. If you're thinking about joining a specific community - visit, read, talk with someone, visit some more. Heck, even if you're simply thinking about religious life as an option, do the same - visit a community, read about religious life, talk with someone about it, visit another community if you can. Put it all in God's hands but know that you can't get that "you just know" feeling unless you allow it to happen. And you can't know without experiencing.
- It's not always what exactly you have planned. Sometimes God's plan isn't our plan....actually, almost all the time, God's plan isn't ours. But believe me, He knows us better than we know ourselves and He has a more amazing plan for us than we could ever imagine.
Don't get frustrated if you've been searching for years and still don't know.
Don't get frustrated if everyone else you know seems to have the magical answer for their life, as if God plopped down in front of them and said "Okay, here's the deal. This is what I want you to do for the rest of your life...." (has that happened to anyone here? 'cause it sure didn't happen to me) Keep those "advisories" in mind and enjoy the journey.