Immediately, at first glance, I can tell a messy person a mile away and I respond accordingly. I am not talking messy as in disheveled, unorganized or unclean. I am talking about those people who bring nothing but bad news, vitriol, gossip and unkind words for everyone and everything. We all know those individuals who relish in the misfortune of others and are generally a foul, malicious and poisonous presence. Yes, that kind of messy!
As much as I am given to viewing the world joyfully, it is sometimes a dangerous place full of people who will gladly, without much consideration, hurt others. And while I do believe that human beings are fundamentally good, there is ample evidence that human beings have the capacity to be extremely cruel and hurtful to one another. There is a constant tension between what is good and affirming and what is bad and destructive. This tension is embodied in all of us and while most struggle to exalt the good and keep the bad permanently at bay, hellions exist among us. How then do we protect ourselves from those who would physically, emotionally or spiritually harm us? We must cultivate a sense of discernment.
Discernment is a gift of self-protection and the assurance of self preservation. Discernment requires an ability and willingness to see what is not readily apparent and quickly determine whether you might be in the presence of someone who does not have the best intentions for you. Discernment means trusting an inner voice and intuition to remain safe. Discernment requires an evolving and mature spirit to learn how to look beyond a person and trust what you see.
In a world that is frantic with constant activity and technology which allows us to re-craft new identities and hide who we might truly be, discernment is especially useful. Like wisdom, discernment grows keener and more acute as we age and come to understand and appreciate all of what human beings are capable.
Recently, a friend shared a poem that I’d like to share here with full homage and recognition to the unknown author who penned these profound words which so wonderfully capture the importance of discernment in our lives. These are not my words although I wish they were:
Ultimately, discernment means looking courageously into the souls of the individuals in our lives to determine if they bring a compatible, confirming and supportive intention for us and having the courage, good sense and self-love to keep those who mean us ill far away.