The term “discernment” is often used among the descriptors of the operations of the spiritual life. Discernment is a two-edged sword. It is a tool we pray to use correctly because the fact is, if left entirely to our own resources, our discernments are as flawed as we are. Any discernments we make on our own are inherently influenced by who and what we are – our experiences. I would not be making a point of this if I did not think it important that we pay heed to the caution that, as a race and as individuals, we are much more prone to make erroneous discernments than good ones.
We have failed in the past to discern who You are. We fail often to discern the beckoning of God in our lives. We fail to discern correctly the true character and dignity of others – even those very close to us. All the way back to and includingthe story of Adam and Eve, ours is a history of erroneous discernments.
Because our experiences weigh heavily on our discernments, I view even what I perceive to discern clearly (especially about spiritual matters) as fuzzy; and being fuzzy they tend to go on without definitive resolution. But the wonder is that this may be a good thing! There is no quest without a “grail” even though not definitively discerned. So, we do the best we can and continually try to inform our discernments.
Discernment often becomes much clearer in hindsight. People we avoided or did not much care for, or with whom we had issues, years later can present pictures of exemplary stature which we missed. How many individuals – even relatives – could I wish to experience again bringing all my present experiences and knowledge to the encounter? Certainly discernments in hindsight are more trustworthy than those made in the present. I do not trust myself alone to discern clearly. Only with Your spirit does my trust increase.