(Learn to Discern, Principle #5)
Last weekend I was in the countryside with my husband – it was amazingly sunny and with the arrival of summer, the fields and sky were in their full glory. I couldn’t stop marveling at how vibrant the colors were – until I took off my sunglasses, that is. The colors were still lovely, but decidedly less rich.
When I remarked on how much better things were with my sunglasses on, my husband proceeded to point out that it was because the lenses were polarized and rose-tinted. I had actually been seeing the world through rose-colored glasses!
Most of us tend to see our past through rose-colored glasses. Time has a way of washing away the bad memories and exaggerating the good ones. It’s often described as a coping mechanism that helps us get through life.
Helpful as it may be, it can also hurt our ability to discern well, because we often lack an accurate memory for what worked well or poorly for us in the past.
When entering a process of discernment, or just living a discerning life, it’s important to note down our reactions. If we’ve taken the first step to start paying attention to our physical and emotional reactions to things around us, we then need to note what those reactions are in real time.
How many times do find ourselves over our heads in commitments saying, “I will never make this mistake again!”… only to make the very same one not too far in the future? We tell ourselves that it wasn’t that bad, that we got through it, that this time will probably be a little different… and it isn’t, really.
The rose-tint on our memories can seriously interfere with good discernment.
That’s why it’s crucial to have some outside source to hold that rose tint in check. Noting down our feelings and reactions as they are happening is crucial.
Are you in the middle of doing a certain type of project, but aren’t sure if you want to continue with that type? Pay attention to your energy levels, to your patience levels, to how happy and satisfied you are (or aren’t.) Then note down how you feel as you go along.
If you like beautiful journals, buy one. If you’re paralyzed by needing to make sure you only write in the beautiful journal that you happen to not have with you and so you can’t write anything, just grab the back of a receipt and start writing. You can stuff it in an envelope later. As long as it’s dated, it doesn’t matter how nice it looks.
If you struggle to write, record your thoughts. Open the voice recorder on your phone and just say what’s on your mind.
Or maybe you express yourself best in art. You don’t have to get out a fresh canvas every day (of course you can, if that’s what works for you!), but even making little sketches in a notebook will tell you a lot about yourself when you look back.
If you play out your heart in music, make a note about which pieces you feel drawn to play at this stage in your life.
However you express what’s going on inside of you, make sure you do it in a way that you can look back on.
Much of discernment involves taking stock, being honest about what brings us life and what drains us. When we begin to think about future possibilities, it’s important to remember what our reactions were in the past: not because the past dictates our future, but because it helps us to know ourselves better.
How can you start noting things down?