Discernment. Now there’s a word for you! Here’s the definition copied from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Definition of discernment
2: an act of perceiving or discerning something
That first definition is where it’s at, the heart of the word you might say, and it’s what befuddles us all. It is something we should all have. It’s a character trait that is developed over our years on this earth. We generally have very little discernment when we are young. A very young child cannot discern whether a stove is hot or cold until they touch it. Hence the need for parents and protection. Discernment should mature as we age, as we learn from touching the hot stove, and our experiences in life.
Our experiences in life come in many different forms. Some from trial and error. “Wow, that stove top was glowing red and when I touched it, I was burned. It hurt!” Wisdom is another trait that comes with age. But a wise person will begin to listen at a young age to others that have experienced life a little bit. You bring in other aspects of trust and obedience to start working on that wisdom, and it’s what is crucial to raising children. They absolutely have to have areas of trial and error to cement something. But in other situations, it would be really lovely if they trusted and obeyed. “Child, the traffic on that highway is moving at 75 mph, don’t cross the road.”
The quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. As a writer, I love to observe people. You can learn so much about a person before you ever even talk to them, just by observing their actions. Most people are fairly easy to read in the broad spectrum of things. Most people don’t hide a lot of who they are. I think it’s more about what we choose to see in someone. The one area I can think of where this is so very true is:
I’m fairly certain that most of us can say we dated at some point in our lives, even if it was only once in more of a courtship-type scenario. We had our eye on someone, they returned that attraction and for a period of time we were known as a couple. It may have worked out and led to marriage, or it fizzled and someone else came along. But during this period of time, we have used discernment to some extent. Maybe not well, or so well that you decided that person was not for you.
Having discernment in our teenage years and early twenties is difficult. Hormones are raging, and we tend to go blind to all the things that other person is showing and even telling us in so many ways. This is when a wise, young adult will seek guidance and listen to others that are older and have more experience in grasping and comprehending what is obscure.
We have all come across the person that is able to put on a great act. They seem to be the perfect match. They say and do everything just right. The word seem is the one to pay attention to here. No one and no situation is perfect. So step back and observe for awhile. Sometimes this takes a few months, maybe a few years. You are looking for good character traits in a person you are thinking of marrying.
Always observe with both eyes wide open. Listen to what is actually being said, not what you want to hear. Examples of this:
- Your boyfriend tells you how beautiful you are, but his eyes are always watching another pretty girl.
- He says you can call or visit anytime, but he’s never where he says he’s going to be.
- He tells you he’s going to do something, but does something else.
- He says he wants to get married, but he doesn’t have a job, a place to live, a car to drive, etc. He basically can’t take care of himself, but wants to add another person to the chaos.
- He says he loves you, but something else is always more important. His friends, partying, etc.
The list could go on and on and I’m sure you all could share some of your own. I’ve stated the above from my female viewpoint, but it can be turned around to fit the guy’s view as well. So many people have made the decision to marry into lots of problems, saying they didn’t know what the person was like. More than likely, that person showed it all, but discernment wasn’t used.
None of us will ever be perfect or find the perfect person. It will not happen on this earth. But we can save ourselves a lot of heartache if we correctly discern a certain situation.
1) Decide what kind of a person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
2) Decide what issues are extremely important to you and stick with them.
3)Don’t lower your standards to just have someone around.
Those three key statements above will take you a long way in making an informed decision about a person. Whether you are looking to be married or even a friendship. They may sound old-fashioned, and maybe they are old ideals. But they worked. Raise your children to be discerning from a very young age. It will hold them well throughout their lives.