All moral conduct may be summed up in the rule: avoid evil and do good.
If we are boiling discernment down to good versus evil, then I fear that we are really in trouble. To separate good from evil just isn't possible. It's all jumbled up and confused. No one nor nothing is completely good, nor is anything totally evil. The Catholic Church might have some teachings that differ from my theological perspective. I know, original sin, fallen humanity. I get it. I've heard it before. But, Adam was pretty fabulous when God breathed life into him so can he really be all that bad? I mean, God breathed in him people! That's a man I would like to meet. So, let's step away from the narrow limitations of good and evil before I get too far off-track. Instead, let's ponder what discernment is about. In striking contrast to Wikipedia, Nora Gallagher was offered the wisdom that:
Discernment is about cleaning up the clutter to find the thread.
The dorky Bible student within me wants to do a word study on the word thread. What is that thread? Is it a human thread? Is it the thread that connects us all? And I get that. I can see my mother's sewing kit, which somehow is never tidy. There are threads going everywhere in every different color. And when you finally find the color that you are looking for, you come to the sad realization that it's twisted and tied among 40 other strands of thread. So, you sit there and painstakingly unwind and unravel each piece until finally the thread is liberated. Alleluia! And it happens in jewlery boxes too. Always when I want to wear this one particular necklace (which seems to be a cross more and more these days), it's twisted and tied among every other item in the box. The necklace wants to wear earrings and bracelets and rings. It just wants to be all wrapped up in their beauty, but I just want to wear my freakin' necklace so I have to sit there and unravel.
Unraveling these threads isn't easy. It's so slow and your fingers just seem so big and awkward. I usually get really frustrated and start muttering mean things like my words will change the situation. I get really, really frustrated. Sometimes, I even give up. And this -- this -- is exactly what discernment is. It's wrestling with those threads and trying to get one free. The trick is, you don't know which one. Any one of those threads could be the right one. I have no idea which chain goes to which necklace and I'm just struggling to get a little bit of clarity. This is what discernment is all about.
No one tells you what it will be like. No one tells you that waiting for a call will seem like one of the hardest things you have ever done. No one tells you how much you will want to give up completely and just let the threads be. No one tells you how much you will love each of those threads and want to liberate them all.