Yesterday I began the discussion on charisms – the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the unique way in which Divine love, peace, contentment, mercy and joy are revealed through us for the sake of others. Today I continue that discussion and share one of my unique gifts – discernment of spirits, and invite you to explore your own unique giftedness!
It is proving to be quite a challenge (as this is my fifth attempt) to write about and share with the reading public the charism of Discernment of Spirits. It just doesn’t seem right to proclaim, “I have the charism of discernment of spirits,” especially since I know that this gift IS NOT MY OWN! As I have observed this charism as it has revealed itself through me, I am acutely aware that this is GOD working….and is in no way, shape or form anything that I am humanly capable of. When I witness the results of allowing this charism to flow through me, I am even more convinced of the amazing and wonderous nature of the Divine as it works in and through us.
But, what is the charism discernment of spirits? Again, this is a difficult charism to describe or define. Healing, teaching, prophecy, service, knowledge, understanding, wisdom….these are all pretty easy to comprehend. But discernment of spirits by its very nature defies definition. The best way I can describe it is to use the words given to me by my dear friend, spiritual sister and colleague, Karen Schmidt as she has observed this charism in me: Discernment of Spirits is the ability to “hear the truth beyond the words,” or to “see the truth beyond what we see.” I would add to this idea that discernment of spirits is the ability to know what is of God (love, wisdom, truth, compassion, mercy, joy, peace) and what is of the ego (fear, constriction, false perception, illusion, deceit, intimidation, power, ignorance).
Now that we know what it is, how does discernment of spirits work? For me, this gift presented itself at a very early age (as early as I can remember, in fact). For as long as I can remember, I have been able to “read” people, rooms, spaces and situations. “Reading” these people and places gave me the ability to determine if someone or something was safe and if someone or something was grounded in integrity, compassion and love or coming at me from a place of fear, deceit, intimidation. The sensation of being able to “read” people and situations feels like having some sort of truth barometer that measures the levels of truth and alerts me through a deep sense of knowing whether something is of God or something else. I valued this gift in its ability to “keep me safe”, and found it to be a challenge when I could immediately determine if a teacher (for example) was real or full of crap. When Fr. Doyle proclaimed that he got to go to heaven before the rest of us simply by virtue of his ordination, I KNEW (without any theological training) that HE WAS FULL OF CRAP, and told him so. I got a “C” for that display of “disrespect.” (I later found out that based on Catholic teaching…I WAS right and he was WRONG!)
For the majority of my life, I took this gift for granted, not really paying it any mind except to determine the safety of a situation or a person. It was through this gift that I was able to hear the truth beyond Jay’s words (my boss from AT&T in Minneapolis) that told me it was ok to move to Milwaukee when every fiber of my being resisted this move. It was through this gift that I knew to change my worship site to the Newman Center and it was this gift that told me to pursue the Commissioned Lay Ministry Program and later, training as a Spiritual Director, and later yet, a Reiki practitioner. Discernment of Spirits has been the gift that has guided me to this place in my journey and for this I am grateful. But, it has been the revelation of this gift as something through which I could help others that has proven to me that this is more than just a gift and is actually a charism – a vehicle through which God facilitates healing and release in those with whom I share this gift.
As I embarked upon my ministry path and began to work with people both in groups and one-on-one, I discovered weird things happening. I would be listening to students or clients say one thing, and know that they meant something else, or that there was something deep beneath their words that was trying to be revealed. In one situation, what wanted to be revealed was the truth of emotional abuse. In another was a profound grief that had yet been grieved. In another was a profound fear of rejection that was coloring their entire life perception. This discernment of spirits was revealing to me the truth beyond the words and the truth beyond what I could physically see. Now, it would be really easy for me to say to a client when I hear these deeper truths, “I’m hearing that you are being emotionally abused,” or “Tell me more about this fear of rejection.” BUT, I am not psychic and it does not serve my clients for me to tell them their journey. So, over the years, I have learned how to receive this inner knowledge, this deeper truth and how to ask questions of the client that allows them to come to this knowledge on their own. This is where the real miracle happens and when I know that God is doing the work. There is a moment, when the client suddenly hears this deeper truth themselves and they light up with awareness, insight and wisdom and shed the tears of grief, or challenge their fear of rejection or stand up for their own needs and boundaries. I know that I have not come to the knowledge of these truths on my own and when I get out of the way and allow the client to come to these awarenesses in their own time, true healing can take place. AMAZING!
Where have you taken the opportunity to explore your own giftedness?
What gifts have already revealed themselves within you?
How might you further cultivate these gifts?
Authentic Freedom Ministries/yourspiritualtruth