Discernment to me feels like a click in my whole self that creates an echo chamber of peace that helps me integrate the choice that gets me free. Or as others define it—discernment is the ability to judge well. It is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. According to ancient text, it is to examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
To see beyond the experience and the data and to recognize the movement of something beneath the surface requires connection to conscience, humility that engages the posture of learning, and razor-like bravery that allows the answer to be unpredictable, and perhaps outside of the nostalgia or preconception of what was assumed to be “the only right way.”
This may mean recognizing what is holy, even if it does not appear pure. The choices and behavior that sit in the middle of discernment seem to consistently involve
Awareness of self as separate from others
Holding dignity before duty
Flinty courage against fear
Such ideas may involve taking a stand for a victory that you may never see or for an individual you may never know. Or possibly allowing the wrong doer the room to fall on their own sword.
What seems inherent in the behavior of the discerning is that those around them experience life giving freedom, not permission to act out of their shame but freedom to recover who they have always been—imago dei.
My desire for those I know and hope to influence along the way is that they see that discernment is always talking to them. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
My personal practice for returning to discernment is quite simple. I ask God to guide my senses toward the truth, to open the eyes of my heart and the ears of my understanding and to be given the courage to do something about this information—whether I get active with new behaviors or simply catalogue the discovery until the timing is right.
I believe that each of us is born with passion to know and express our inner reality, and thus each of us is born with innate discernment. There is feeling, then there is need and finally we discover the plan. And we need help with the courage of knowing the inner feeling—feelings are information on what is happening, hence my simple statement:
“Guide my senses toward the truth. Open the eyes of my heart the ears of my understanding. Instill the courage needed to follow where it might lead me.”
For example, if I have the courage to acknowledge that this work/relationship/situation depresses me, I will need to define the thing that depresses me. I will need the courage to create a plan to address that thing so that my feelings of depression resolve. It has been said that the best “mind-altering drug” is truth.
Many of us fear what it will tell us, and rightly so. However, I have found it will bear down either way. Indeed, wisdom is a hound relentlessly looking for you—who holds the imago dei, the image of God.
Rather than waiting for it to track you down through hard, expensive experience, consider opening your door in advance and grant it entrance, “Discernment, feel free to cop a squat anytime and make yourself at home. I’m scared, but I’m listening.”
One discerning choice at a time leads to a life of wisdom which can often lead to a great deal of opportunity and options to live your best life in the befitting habitat of your true design.
Discernment is much like a river—it breaks up what has been, but it delivers an irreplaceable substance that is everlasting and overflowing.
I would love to hear from you. We want to hear how you would define discernment. Do you have an example of how you welcomed the voice of discernment river broke up what had been and delivered a healthful impact?