HomedotMagisDiscernmentWhat Do I Really Want?

What Do I Really Want?

neon signs that read: human desire need dream and hope - photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash

The question to be constantly asked in decision-making is “what do I really want?” Deep down, that’s what God wants too. God wants what is best for us. This isn’t something repugnant, or burdensome, or sad, or difficult. The way of life that God desires for us is the way of life we desire.

“What do I really want?” is a simple question. But simple doesn’t mean easy. Usually this question is quite difficult to answer. Our deepest desires are obscured by pride, fears, ambitions, and attachments to money, honor, security, and a host of other things. The process of discernment is essentially a process of stripping away these false desires and finding the desires at the core of our selves. Discernment of spirits is a way of grasping what these deep desires are.

—Excerpted from What’s Your Decision? by J. Michael Sparough, SJ, Jim Manney, and Tim Hipskind, SJ

Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash.

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  1. “The way of life that God desires for us is the way of life we desire.” To me, that means not what other people may think is best for us. The Book of Job reveals that to us. We love God despite not seeing, or comprehending God fully. And we can be close to God anywhere. I also believe we are loved as we are. We want to be better to honour our creator.

  2. Amazing the timing of this email. I am preparing for a phone interview for my dream job probably beyond my current skills but here I am waiting on the VP. The job would require relocation but my wife said if the offer the job. God will take care of the rest. Amen, He blessed me with a wonderful woman!
    GOD is Good, ALL the time.

  3. Huh, I have a tough time with this, despite learning and practising discernment since a long time ago. Seems silly, but It happens that what I desire is a sailboat, it doesn’t have to be an expensive nor big one, I simply love sailing. I wonder all the time if that’s what I really desire, whether it was God who placed it in my soul, of if it is a representation of something deeper inside. Freedom, discovery, adventure, skill mastering, even uncertainity… And even when asking in prayer for clarifying this since a long time, I cannot make any progress. Still I think I should desire something else, more noble and altruist, but no way…

    • Alberto, how abut rather than the desire for a sailboat, consider your desire simply to sail. there are a myriad of ways to have and share experiences without ownership of a thing. join a sailing club, ask for others who have sailboats if they could teach you in return for working on the boat, etc. my father was a pilot. he never owned a plane but knew that flying was his hearts desire and calling. God’s desire is for you to experience the fullness of life (to have life and to have it abundantly).

    • I know this dilemma first hand as I am living it. Like a 6 year old child wanting that toy boat, I could not shake that desire. At 72 I purchased that “last” boat (a rescue boat) only to realize how selfish I had been. There was a great deal of damage requiring a lot of work and additional money. I felt very guilty realizing I had not used wise judgment. My desire overshadowed my reason. How ever I read an article in Ignatian Spirituality about how the Holy Spirit will take a mistake and turn them around to create a life altering lesson. I began to look at this restoration project as an opportunity to evaluate my life by recalling the sins of my past and equating those times of my life with the repairs I needed to make to the deck. Through introspection I equated sin with the rotted core wood that I removed, peeling back the gelcoat revealing the sins of my life and facing them head on. Through prayer I sought God’s forgiveness to restore my life in Jesus.

  4. I want to be a playwright but I hesitate. Is this what God wants for me? When I was a child I interpreted what God wanted for me through what my parents wanted for me. I judged who I was by what they and my older sister told me. I am now over 50 and have held a number of jobs that I thought followed each other and I was on a path to security; just what God wants for me. Things have been different since 2008, like they have been for everyone else. I am not married and have no children, the single life would seem to beckon.
    Last Night I attended a cable cast of the National Theatre’s production of Tom Stoppard’sn”The Hard Problem.” I recommend it to anyone who likes plays with compelling characters in situations where they have to grow or be overwhelmed. On leaving the theatre a man I never met before turned to me and asked,” Well how did you like it?” I answered I did, very much. He said he was an architect and had started reading the Great Books collection through the City University of New York. He was currently reading the classics and thought that we haven’t really changed that much in the last 2000 years or so. He explained he had read a Roman essay that touched on city planning. Even then people were trying to decide if they wanted to live in the center of the city or out in the country where you get the wide vistas.
    We both agreed if we ever had the opportunity we’d like to sit down with the playwright, if we could only think of something to say open the conversation that didn’t sound completely stupid.
    I don’t think I was visited by an angel. This man may have noticed I was sitting alone. I’m one of the people who go to events we want to see even if we can’t get anyone to go with us. But to have someone, a stranger, come up to me and talk to me about something I desperately wanted to talk about leads me to believe I am not in this alone. He didn’t say the play was bad because it wouldn’t reach a wide audience. This is the kind of production that “has legs” and will be around for some time. The characters are compelling. They are recognizable (the billionaire, the scholars, the administrators) because they are not perfect people. They have important questions to resolve.Maybe what God wants is for us to understand each other, particularly in a play where psychologists and neurologists are arguing about what exactly is consciousness.

  5. I recently came across a quote from St. Thérèse de Lisieux, “Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what You want me to be – and becoming that person.”


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