Discerning between the good and the better

One of the important ideas that comes through the Ignatian tradition is the importance of learning to discern the better from the good. The underlying presumption here is that the one discerning is actively trying to live a good Christian life. The one discerning is therefore able to distinguish good from bad. And is actively trying to make good choices.

Inevitably the choices one makes become more subtle – how does one choose between two ostensibly good things? Here it is useful to look at what happens when I interact in with the two situations – which one actually brings more life, which one seems more appealing, which one has greater potential, etc.

But it has occurred to me recently that there is something else to examine – my motivations. Is my choice made out of a desire to ‘be good’ or is it made in interior freedom?

As I begin to recognise the limitations of my own interior freedom, I am also beginning to recognise the small areas where interior freedom actually exists. It is tremendously exciting. I feel as if I have stumbled into a much more reliable touchstone for discernment.

It is my great prayer at the moment, that I may grow in interior freedom. I have tasted interior freedom before, and I have managed to make some good decisions rooted in interior freedom. But for the first time I am beginning to glimpse the possibility of having a state of interior freedom that persists.

4 thoughts on “Discerning between the good and the better

  1. Thanks for this Mags. I am very interested to learn what you are discovering about how we may live and choose from a place of interior freedom. My choices are usually ery ‘unfree’ because I tend to make them from a ‘feelings’ perspective trying to work out how to please everyone with the choices I make usually with the result that I feel i havent actually chosen at all but been compelled into a particular way.

  2. This sounds intriguing, Mags, and I’d like to know more. I feel a little like I’m listening in on a conversation and/but just missed something important! (Interior freedom! –ears prick up– What is it and where can I get me some? ) Is this a matter of entering more deeply into trust? Is it a matter of certain scales having dropped from the spiritual senses enabling more sensitive perceptions (like I.F.)? What has shifted the furniture in your heart/mind and opened up this rich vein? Are you praying in a new way, perhaps? Happy trails in your mining expeditions!

  3. Doh! Reading on the surface (fresh posts) . . . and then I see – when I go deeper – that you’ve initiated a series on the question of freedom. Looking forward to the journey. . .

    • Hey Kate – I’m glad you picked up on the thread! Not quite sure where it is all going, but seems to be all I can write about at the moment! If what I am writing isn’t please ask questions, it’ll help me with the articulation (hopefully!)

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