Discerning? Do This First Step to a Lifetime of Adventures

I would often get asked: “What is the first step that we need to do in discernment?”

One year ago, at around 9:00 am in a retreat house in Quezon City, I decided to do something with my life without really knowing what will happen next. I remember that I scribbled this in my journal: “Here’s to a lifetime of adventures!”

Only then, I realized the weight and true value of St. Ignatius’ prayer of total surrender, which was also the assignment I got from the Spiritual Director assigned to me during that Ignatian retreat.

Kunin Mo, O Diyos, at tanggapin Mo
Ang aking kalayaan, ang aking kalooban
Ang isip at gunita ko, lahat ng hawak ko,
Ng loob ko, Lahat ay aking alay sa ‘Yo
Nagmula sa ‘Yo ang lahat ng ito
Muli kong handog sa ‘Yo
Patnubayan Mo’t paghariang lahat
Ayon sa kalooban Mo,
Mag utos Ka, Panginoon ko
Dagling tatalima ako
Ipagkaloob Mo lang ang pag-ibig Mo
At lahat ay tatalikdan ko

When you examine the words closely, those are words of entrusting everything to the Lord, such as that nothing else really matters save for His will. But what could be that first step to totally trusting and obeying the Lord?

St. John of the Cross comes to mind:

If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.

And that is it, I guess! The first step to a life of awe, wonder, surprise and adventure is that we learn how to close our eyes so that the Lord, who knows the way, who is sure of what way we should tread, will lead us to where our heart will find peace and joy.

You know that instance when someone covers your eyes and leads you to a room to surprise you on your birthday? You really do not know what you will see but you trust in the person who is leading you. You know he will not endanger you. Often times, the walk to the room may lead us to fear, to impatience or make us a little jittery but what joy it brings to the heart when our eyes get uncovered!

That is the life of great adventure that God is calling us to respond to!

Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

-John 21:18-19

When Peter told Jesus that he loved him three times, Jesus responded with what mission Peter had to do: “Feed my sheep.” But Jesus gave Peter the first step, too, how he was to go about in fulfilling this task: “stretch out your hand and let me lead you.”

It is not an easy thing to do: to close one’s eyes, to stretch out our hand for God to lead us and to walk in the path that He will lead us to. But if just like Peter, we do love God (though imperfectly), to take this step to a lifetime of adventures is what “our love” should bring us to.

It is also not easy – to abandon the security of seeing what is before us. But God assures us that He will never leave us alone. He is, and always be, with us.

I remember going through the Retreat in Daily Life last year, which was a live out retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. During the first part, my retreat master led me to recognize the God who was calling me and how unconditional His love was for me. It was also at that moment when one would meditate on his or her nothingness and faults. The “humiliation” brings one to cling to the Lord. It was a training in humility.

Not to see is an act of humility. To close our eyes is the beginning of it. It will be a lifelong process to close our eyes completely because we could be very fearful but we will get there when we recognize, and constantly remember, who God is and what His merciful love did for us. This “not seeing,” can be encapsulated by this very beautiful song:

A year has passed since that 9:00 am decision. It had been a struggle to have my eyes closed all the time. There were many times when I would be so afraid and I would disobey and open my eyes to have my own way followed. But God, in His mercy and in His love, knew the deepest intention and desire of my heart for a lifetime of adventures! (And I learned the hard way many times in the past that…it is useless to struggle with God. He always ends up winning anyway so why prolong the drama? Hehe.)

It has been a year of adventure. I cannot begin to enumerate the many wonderful surprises I got to see. I could not number anymore how many times my eyes would well up in gratitude whenever God said, “Okay Lee-an, you may open your eyes now!” The many places, instances, people I got to see and encounter – all because I just had to close my eyes and let the child in me wonder.

I celebrate my 31st tomorrow. This entire year seemed like 50 years in its length and wealth of experiences. I could not wait for what the next year will bring and what adventures God and I will still be taking together. I only know one thing now: