Discernment

Teasing Things Out

In a comment to "Down from the Mountain," mc wrote:

Amazing, too, that I immediately started thinking up a list of people
who can help me ask the hard questions about what seems right now to be
a promising – but as yet unexplored – path. Hope you find your
discussion partners post-haste!

I know that in my post I made reference to looking deliberately for those people, but what I discovered on Monday afternoon is that it didn’t seem to matter what I was talking about with people; if I was listening carefully, faithfully, heartfully, I was beginning to get keys to understanding. I started writing them down in my "That’ll Blog" Notebook (no telling if that’s one of the keys, but you too can have one at the RevGalBlogPals store, with $1 of the price going to The Heifer Project). The next three days were full of meaningful exchanges. Or is it just that I was willing to listen?

One of the super key moments was a conversation with a colleague and friend that wasn’t at all about me, rather it was about her intuition that she ought to step down from leading a committee. "I live by my intuition," she said, "and it tells me this is a dangerous job to be doing now." I’m glad I was able to affirm her, but I’m thrilled that I listened to her! Discernment is about sorting out what applies to us and what does not, at least in part. This friend and I were among three clergy at a retreat two years ago who were ENFP in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. I’ve always scored right on the line between J and P, but just on the J side. To look at myself as a P was a revelation! First of all, it meant I had finally gotten over having a mother who was very J, the sort of person who kept elegant and detailed lists of everything and never, ever, ever did a spontaneous thing. I remember grappling with that, being tortured by it, in fact, and trying to be like her. The last time I had taken the test she was alive. Ten years later I was no longer scoring as "J."

Anyway, ENFP friend and her intuition–ENFPs approach the world intuitively. Even ENFJs do it with their feelings. Why was I so determined to THINK THINGS THROUGH, leaving absolutely no room for the movement of the Holy Spirit? (Those of you who aren’t Trinitarian Christians, substitute whatever you might call the current that runs among all things, not directing but often indicating, at least in my experience.)

Thinkers out there, I’m not against thought. It’s just not my most highly developed function (though I did develop it much more fully when in seminary). Sensation types, I’m miserable at gathering information based on physical impressions and material data. Believe me, I know how differently you do things. I’m married to one of you.

Discernment is not about devising a strategy for finding the most prominent or advantaged position (insert your personal demon here). Discernment is about releasing your authentic self, about finding the way/place/means for expressing that most authentic self. If you start there, if I start there, the logistics will come later.

More later…in the midst of all this I had a dream much like a dream I’ve had many times before, and this time I have a feeling I understood it.

9 thoughts on “Teasing Things Out”

  1. Just call me a sister ENFP. (Although technically I am borderline E/I)
    Discernment is a muscle I guess I have lest rest too much since I gave it such a workout during “the searching years”. This post really makes me think about this…ironic, huh? lol

  2. I’m one of them ENFJ-type of folks… and there’s really NO ambiguity on the J thing. Or the N thing. I became more T in seminary (you too eh?), but over time I think I have been moving back to my truer preference, F. I’m still not a strong F though. And the E is rather weak and has fluctuated throughout my life.
    We did this “discernment” thing at presbytery recently where we got into small groups, discussed a few questions, then reported back to the whole group. One of my friends said, “This is SO presbyterian.” Yeah, I’m not sure what it really yielded. It felt very left-brained, not very Spirit-led.

  3. Hmm, Songbird, I think I’m going to have to pick up one of those notebooks, just in case that was the key!
    I’m encouraged by your experience… Funny that last night we saw some old friends — in fact, my oldest friend, with whom I feel I have little in common these days — and I didn’t even hint about what’s been going through my mind these last few days. I just didn’t think she’d have space to respond to it; I’m wondering now if that was a mistake. Thanks for prompting these thoughts 😉

  4. mc, just look back at the conversation; was there anything she said that popped out at you? This happened to me while calling on an 88-year old lady who has been coming to Small Church recently. She has *no* idea what’s going through my head, yet she said something that made it onto my list of “keys.” That key ring is getting pretty heavy already. I’m sure I’ll have to take some of the keys off in the course of the discernment process. But they are giving me a starting point.

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