The term Discernment is used frequently in contemporary spiritual theology. It is a biblical term and has a long and somewhat complex history. I wont go into it all here , but for the purposes of this article, my working definition of Discernment is the intentional process of becoming aware of how God is present, active and calling us.
Not to confuse it with the gift of discernment that Apostle Paul talks about in 1st Corinthians. That is another topic all together and wont be discussed here today.
Discerment for Christians often involve making a choice between two "good's". The most obvious options to eliminate are those that involve doing what is intrinsically wrong based on our christian values and ethics, but one should also eliminate options that are good in themselves but does not allow one to meet one's current responsibilities.
Discernment is different than decision making in many ways. One way, discernment is different , is that we are intentionally taking the time to seeks God's will in a matter, and are able and willing to hold our desires at a distance until we hear or sense the movement of the Spirit. That is, we learn to develop the interior freedom to not be attached to any particular outcome, other than the one that will most serve and praise God.
One last point I want to make today, is that we have often shied away form seeking God in a matter because we feel that God will ask us to choose a path that is at odds with what we think we truly desire; and that is because we have a conflicted relationship with desire. We are often told our desires don't matter or our desires are selfish and will lead us to destruction. There is truth in that, often our superficial desires will be at odds with what God wants for us. But as we gain more intimacy with Jesus and desire to learn His ways, we will find that those superficial desires disappear. Then what emerges from the inner most recesses of our hearts are our true desires ,which can be likened to treasures, which are most often in alignment with God's will. He was the one that buried those treasures deep in our hearts before we were formed. Those are the treasures that lead to life and not death.
I leave you with this, Hear and ponder these words of Jesus:
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
A spiritual director can help you learn to develop the interior freedom needed to hear and follow God's call more closely. There are a variety of discernment practices we use that can lead to God's deepening life in you.