How do you discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit develops our love for what is true, good, and beautiful.
This is easy enough to accept, but we often don’t recognize it in the thick of things. Instead, we focus on weighing obligations–what I should do. We think about fear of consequences and duty. The Holy Spirit honors these obligations, but also gives much more.
Beyond mere obligations
The problem comes when we see God’s requirements as limiting freedom, whether that be some application of law or virtue. This sets us on a path of seeing his obligations as too burdensome, and then we’re likely to become irritable, or there’s an urge to run the other way.
The Holy Spirit enables us to avoid this dichotomy. We become more open to his guidance when we recognize that anything that God calls us to do is ultimately for our freedom and happiness. The Holy Spirit enables us to embrace that reality in our lives.
According to Aquinas, this all begins with charity, which unites us to God. From this standpoint, God can direct our desires by the Holy Spirit.
Consider these two Scriptures:
“O taste and see that the Lord is sweet,” (Psalm 33:9)
“That you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
If you ask the Holy Spirit to lead you, then consider what is most true, good, and beautiful about the options before you. What are you most drawn to? God wants to bless you, even as you are a blessing to those around you.
A helpful way to be more open to the Holy Spirit-infused desires
To make this more of a habit, try acknowledging what you could do instead of what you “should do” as much as possible.
The typical default is to say, “I should get up and start my work.” Or “I should give her a hand.” Or to consider an option in terms of “Should I buy or rent?” But this leaves you with a feeling of external obligation that is imposed on you from the outside and invites fear of making the wrong choice and suffering consequences.
Instead, acknowledge what you could do. “I could get up and start my work.” Or “I could give her a hand.” Or to consider an option in terms of “I could buy or rent.” This frames the scenario in term of opportunities from God, rather than limitations. You become free to discern what is a greater blessing.
Know that God’s leading is always towards greater freedom and happiness. If you are seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance and are rooted in charity, then God wants to bless you, and he wants to give you what is true, good and beautiful–the ultimate desires of your heart.