If there was one lesson I craved to know as a child, it was how to know if something was right or true in a world of confusing voices. I remember sitting intently at church waiting for the magic teaching that would help me really learn how to know when I found truth, or when someone was telling me a lie. I wanted discernment. In my childhood, I didn’t find the full answer to my deep desire for discernment that I could always rely on, but I kept searching. Since the desire for discernment was such an important desire for me as a child, when I became a mother I made teaching my children the language of truth, also called discernment, a top priority.
At age nine, I got hurt because I wasn’t good at discerning or heeding the impressions I received. One time, after not properly discerning, I had a terrible accident and I broke my back in five places, I broke my skull, and started a life with pain. When we don’t learn to discern, we put our lives, minds, and happiness in danger.
True discernment means more than just making a logical judgement of a situation, although that’s part of it. True discernment means knowing something is true, both in your mind and in your heart, and properly judging a situation or piece of information based on that combined assurance. When our hearts spiritually sense the truth and our brains confirm the sound reasoning of that spiritual sense, then we gain deeper understanding of any subject we are searching out.
I think many people mistakenly think that turning to experts gives a person more truth to rely on, but experts cannot discern for us. I say this knowing that many people consider me an expert and turn to me for discernment help. But, I cannot find the truth or discern for someone else. Each of us must find the truth and follow it on our own. I can only point toward truths I see or know.
Discernment Lessons For Life
These are the key lessons I learned when I was a young adult, and what I’ve focused on teaching my children so that they can learn to discern and confidently take action and take stands during their lives.
Lesson 1: Prepare the heart for inspiration. This means a person gets rid of distractions and meaningless pursuits, and fills their time with asking good questions and seeking good answers. We don’t find answers unless we ask and seek first.
Lesson 2: Be in harmony with goodness. A heart that is in line with virtue and goodness will more easily find truths. This is why joyful people seem to have more blessings than pessimistic people. When a person is already grateful for what they have and the life they live, then they’re usually more capable of seeing truth and discerning well in comparison to their friend who is concerned with comparing to others and focusing on what they don’t have. When we follow after goodness, we find joy, contentment, and more truth. Do our children know this?
Lesson 3: Have our own change of heart. This means desiring to have good actions and thoughts, and willingly correcting ourselves when our thoughts or actions go off course. Cloudy or negative thoughts make it so a person can’t discern well.
Lesson 4: Be patient. Just because we go looking for truthful answers and personal inspiration doesn’t mean we will find those things the moment we want them. Sometimes we don’t get things easily or on our own timetable. Patience takes hope and faith, and hope and faith only grow with patience. They’re interconnected.
Lesson 5: Live according to our principles. When a person plans their day to match their principles, they are acting in humility. They are aligning their will with what they know they must do for happiness. To choose truth over craving requires being teachable. Another word for this lesson in practicing our principles and humility is obedience. When we teach our children how to be obedient, we are teaching them how to align their wills with truth. This brings them great freedom and peace, which leads to an increased ability to think and solve problems. Thinking is required for finding truth. But, good, free thinking can’t occur without humility.
The magic I was looking for as a child was this. When we focus on controlling ourselves, we are free to find more truth and discern the truth and error around us easily. A discerning person isn’t led by emotional tidal waves or fleeting passions. They are led by a craving to ask more and more questions as more truths are found.
What I didn’t know in my childhood is that discernment isn’t a magic pill; it takes practice, patience, deliberate searching, hard daily work, and living with purposeful goodness. Most children don’t just naturally live these principles. But, as maturity and wisdom come, and as they watch the examples of discernment from their parents, these children naturally start discerning well.
There are so many traps and trials for us and our children these days. We must stay focused on obediently following the truth as it is spoken to our hearts and minds in order to resist the snares which stop our development toward purpose. More than any lessons I’ve learned in my life, I’m grateful that I know in my heart and mind what is true or false when I hear and feel it. I don’t need to get impressed by worldly success or intelligence. I just think and listen to my heart.
Just like I was when I was a young girl, our children are craving the ability to really know during these times. They need it more than ever for their safety. Start teaching them to discern today.
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