Recalculating with the Holy Spirit

car GPS - recalculatingI am not the greatest driver. I am easily flustered, particularly when I am in the unfortunate position of having to drive in an area unfamiliar to me. In those flustered and confused moments, I am comforted by one word spoken all too often by my GPS: recalculating. The word reassures me that no matter how far off-course I may have gotten from my desired destination, my trusty GPS is working to get me back on track. I know I’m going to get there eventually with the help of that handy little device—and by the grace of God, of course!

The word “recalculating” took on even more meaning for me when I was going through the Spiritual Exercises. An important part of the Exercises is discernment. St. Ignatius set out his rules for discernment in the hopes that a retreatant will integrate useful tools for discernment in all matters of life, in a way that will help the person follow God’s will. In my work, I am required to make decisions quickly and adjust courses of action based on information as it becomes available. I don’t have the luxury of taking the time to reflect very deeply on any given matter before I am expected to act decisively. The speed at which I make decisions at work has slowly encroached into my personal life, and I find myself, all too often, making decisions first, and then discerning after that fact. I struggle trying to find some way of incorporating Ignatius’s rules for discernment into this life I lead where I have become accustomed to making all of my decisions quickly. This is still a challenge for me.

So perhaps I am not the best at discerning, and that means that sometimes I find myself heading down a path that was likely not of God but of my own limited insight. I am heartened, however, by what our retreat director reminded us of during the Exercises: that God takes our decisions and makes the best of them. The way I see it, the Holy Spirit takes these ideas of mine and my imperfect decisions, and recalculates. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight” (Proverbs 3:5), but when you take that next wrong turn on your journey, rest assured that the Holy Spirit will recalculate and gently guide you back on course.

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Cara Callbeck holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and works in the public sector as a human resources professional. Cara recently completed the Spiritual Exercises and has since felt quite drawn to Ignatian spirituality. She is now on a quest to learn more and grow and to incorporate Ignatian spirituality in her life as a professional, mother, and “woman for others.” Cara lives in the Canadian Prairies with the two greatest blessings in her life—her husband and daughter.


  1. Spiritually simple and simly spiritual…Great way to look at a very deep and profound issue…with humor and grace…always a most effective combination!

  2. My mentor and theology Professor, Dr. Ed Shirley explained that God was constantly coaching us. When we made a wrong turn, God would say: “I can work with that!”, and gently guide us back. This was before the concept of “recalculating”, he would have loved it! Like the labyrinth, the only wrong turn is to turn away.

  3. Interesting opinion. I was always told God gave us freedom of choice. If we make a bad decision (I have made some whoppers) then it is on our head! We have to just wear it or find a way to work around it ,Sometimes with God’s help ,we may be able to “RE_CALCULATE”, however that is not always the case, unfortunately, as other people are involved. Thank you … I will ponder on this .

  4. Cara
    Thank you for reminding us that faith works like a GPS and the sign of the Holy Spirit is “recalculating.” Seems like we all have that message playing on our GPS screens.
    Thank you for your post and God bless you.

  5. Thanks for the sharing, I first thought about “recalculating” is on relationship; the relationship with family and friends, the relationship with our Lord. This word also reminds me Mary, especially she usually thought over and over again when Jesus reacted on her and/or responded to her with a message that she did not expect.
    I certainly recalculate myself often, perhaps on an investment that doesn’t seem to be right; but most of the time, my recalculating is to retreat myself on the way I deal with my family and friends, or others. I often ask mysel- is there a better way to handle this? I am sure our lovely Lord has recalculated so many times for my discerns and my decisions, and I myself once in a while, asking – can I love and trust God a bit more? Can I take a step further and leave my comfort zone? or can I let him be in charge?
    I feel like the word recalculating is a reminder for us to stop and think, and to readjust ourselves for the will of God. How wonderful! Thank you!


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