Discernment: Feeling the Tug

by Christine Sine

by Elaine Breckenridge

Recently, I read a delightful reflection by a woman, who, constrained by cold and snowy
weather, spent the day sorting through her paint colors. She created a new palette and
spoke of taking the time to explore and play with her colors, especially yellow. Her
reflection ended with an invitation to readers to spend time doing the same. Exploring,
playing and ultimately discovering what it is that sparks joy for each of us.

I immediately put aside her piece and wrote the following question in my journal. “Why
can’t my life be about embracing what sparks beauty and joy; love and peace?” As I sat
with that question, another voice replied, “Indeed, what is holding you back?”

Answering that question, I wrote a long list of things that might be holding me back.
Another voice countered. My True Self and my little ego were having a conversation
with one another! Observing the dialog, I noticed just how much my ego does not like
change, risk-taking, and tries continually to keep me safe. My True Self is much more
spontaneous. I could hear her reminding me of the color yellow.

What does this have to do with a yearly discernment practice? Up to this point, I had
decided that 2024 would be about fulfilling my 2023 intentions—all seven of them. It
was to be a re-do of last year’s discernment process since I had been stalled by
surgeries and breast cancer. Yet, rewriting these seven intentions brought a physical
change in my body.

A verse from Psalm 42 came to mind, “Why are you so full of heaviness, oh, my soul?”
Another voice reminded me, “Put your trust in God, who is the help of your
countenance.” I wondered. Maybe because I am not the same person, I was one year
ago; I should be looking forward not backward?

And so, I began an experiment. Shelving last year’s journal, I turned the page and
decided to practice simply being open to whatever sparked beauty, joy, love and peace.
I imagined a thread, or better yet a piece of string. I decided to see if a new invitation or
two might come my way. Having written that in my journal, suddenly many invitations
came my way! I was reminded of the delightful scene in the first Harry Potter book and
movie when the invitations to study at Hogwarts’s School of Magic were multiple and

Discernment now means that I get to decide whether or not I want to respond to any of
these invitations. And I can choose to follow that string as long as it feels right. Of
course, besides saying yes to some of these invitations, I am learning to say no to other
invitations that are no longer a fit for me. I have changed, and I have to forgive myself
for not completing things that I have started. It is important for me to let go of a string
that does nothing more than tie me into knots! Retirement and my affiliation with the
church may look different from what I had previously imagined.

Yet, I am feeling confident because I have greater clarity when my soul is speaking and
when my ego is simply trying to hold me back. How is this accomplished? By feeling the

There is a story about a child who takes a kite to a distant hill and sets it flying high in
the sky. The child gazes at the kite, holding its string tight in his hand, and as the
weather cools and clouds move in, the bright colored kite is hidden by the darkening
sky. Still, the child clutches tight to the string of his kite above the clouds. Eventually the
child grows older and hands the kite on to his child, who after many years passes the
kite to his child, and he in turn to his. One day a man approaches a boy holding tight to
a string that reaches to the stormy clouds and he asks, “Boy what are you doing?” The
child replies, “I am flying a kite.” “What do you mean you’re flying a kite?” the man said,
“Have you ever seen it? I believe that you are simply holding a string to make sure the
clouds will not blow away.” The boy’s response was calm, “No, I am flying a kite.” But
the man remains skeptical, “But how do you know there is kite? How can, you be sure?”
The boy says gently, “I know there is a kite because I can feel the tug. Do you
understand, sir? I can feel the tug.” (Citation lost)

I can feel the tug when God is inviting me to make beauty, joy, love and peace the rule
of my life. Surrendering to being ruled by those four virtues means that am finished with
writing intentions, mission statements, setting goals, practicing the skills of highly
effective people. Tuning into the feeling of God gently tugging on my hearts strings is
how I will practice discernment this year. That might involve doing certain things, but it
will also most certainly involve simply being. As I move toward my eldering years, I
realize that a shift from “doing less” to “being more” must take place.

And when I do not feel the tug, I will check in with my ego. Am I being held back by
some old story? Or is the invitation now to wait until God’s clarity becomes mine? God’s
presence is often revealed as soon as I accept and wait in the midst of God’s apparent
absence. One of my breath prayers is “Presence. I am present.” When I am fully
present, I know that God is present because I feel the tug. May the joy of the tug be

Photo: Pixabay Images, used with permission


With its focus on social justice, sustainability and simple living as an expression of faith, this guide features daily reflections and weekly challenges that dare readers to creatively engage the communities in which they live, making it a great asset for both personal reflection and group study. Above all, A Journey into Wholeness is a daring invitation for readers to undertake the journey from brokenness to wholeness. “Let all who are thirsty, come.”

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