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What is the difference between God’s will and my will?

Q&A With Toni Reynolds

Question & Answer


Q: By A Reader

What is the difference between God’s will and my will? Sometimes I feel like I can’t discern the difference between the two.


A: By Toni Anne Reynolds

Dear Reader,

Your question makes me think of a lyric from a gospel song
“…the truth of the matter: what I want just might hurt me…”

It also reminds me of the wisdom shared by St. Ignatius of Loyola. He developed a spiritual discernment philosophy and accompanying exercises because of this very question. St. Ignatius had a similar hunch to the writer of that gospel song-sometimes we want things that aren’t good for us, and because the desire is generated from within, we can mistake it as a Higher will for us.

I haven’t spent enough of my time deep in discernment exercises to have a foolproof answer. I do suspect that some of the desires I can identify within myself are just my ego running the show. At the same time, some of my desires are actually coming from a good place, as far as my welfare and that of others are concerned.

I believe that over time, what tends to have more value is the openness of the heart to live, learn and grow from one’s choices and experiences, rather than the desire to quickly label an occurrence or an action the will of God or not. Perhaps there is no foolproof answer because one of the key elements of growing spiritually as a human being is the ability to learn from mistakes and correct actions alike. A part of being human, at least as far as our times are concerned, involves not being able to know everything fully. Yet my belief that the seat of God or the spirit resides in each of us, allows me to believe that over time, with a willingness to learn, reflect and grow, our will and God’s will can become more and more like each other, whatever that means in each of our contexts in this dynamic world.

~ Toni Anne Reynolds

This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.

About the Author
Minister Toni Anne Reynolds is committed to singing flesh onto the bones of the Christian tradition by incorporating recently found texts of the ancient world into liturgy, sermons, and poetry. Toni’s Christianity forms a holy trinity with the psychological medicine of Tibetan Buddhism and the eternal Life found in Yoruba traditions. Balanced in an eclectic faith and focused in theology, Toni’s ministry offers a unique perspective on life, theology, and spirituality.

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