O`Brien advises parents to not scoff when children talk about monsters under the bed, because doing so teaches them to distrust their own discernment. Good discernment is so important in living a Godly life. Just as our conscience must be formed, our morality developed, our code of ethics established, so our ability to discern needs to grow in strength and maturity.
That discernment is a gift we all have, men and women both. There is a lot of emphasis on `women`s intuition` but men have it, too. The inherent differences between men and women means the gift is expressed in different ways, but the common purpose of instinct is preservation – safety from spiritual and physical harm.
I think women are inclined to trust the promptings of their instinct. For example, a mother is fierce in the protection of her children and ensuring the integrity of the home. What keeps us back from being fierce all the time, is the need to also be nice, to not upset other people, we want to offer help when
I have an illustration. Years ago I shared an apartment. It was in a well-maintained, respectable building so we had no concerns about safety. One afternoon while home alone, I was wakened from a nap by strange sounds coming from the door to our apartment. Then I heard voices, and I realized someone had been fumbling with the lock and was now in our hallway. Totally confused by the situation and having just been in a deep sleep, I stumbled into the living room, unsure of what to do or say to the two men now standing in my home with a case of beer tucked under an arm of each of them. I said something along the lines of, ``Umm... what?” I didn’t want to offend them, but I was also afraid to go near them. Though I knew I had every right to insist they leave, I was almost afraid to offend them - if I were British I might have offered them tea. With as much polite insistence and I could muster, I asked them to leave. Turns out they were visiting a buddy in the building who was getting married the next day, and they simply went to the wrong apartment.
Contrast that with the time I was looking after my five nephews in their home. We were going through their bedtime routine, when I heard a knock at the door. I ignored it as we weren’t expecting anyone, it was late, and I don’t like to answer the door when I’m home alone. The next thing I heard was the door opening and heavy boots stepping into the front hall! A voice called out, “Hello” but I was already half way up the stairs, yelling, “Get out! Get out! Get out!” I charged into the hallway, hands out in front of me, and pushed the man out the door and down the porch steps while shrieking at him to get out of the house. I didn’t give a thought to how he was feeling or what he thought of me. Poor man... he turned out to be the landlord come to repair something. Once I realized who he was I stopped yelling at him, but I took him to task for not phoning ahead, and for just walking into our house. I must have got through to him because he always kept a safe distance from me after that.
|Icon of St. Michael the Archangel|
by Michael O'Brien
It is so important we listen to that voice, whether it is our guardian angel, or our God-given instinct. Scripture tells us to get rid of our eye if it causes us to sin. We must choose our friends wisely, avoid scandalous activities, not partake of blasphemous entertainment etc. How can we do all of that if we no longer trust our own discernment?