My Complicated Relationship With Discernment

Merriam Webster defined discernment as 1: the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure: skill in discerning. 2: an act of perceiving or discerning something. Google defines it as (in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding.

Perhaps some of my complication with my gift of discernment is I can’t think of anyone who could or would say I am judgmental of others; but discernment is often defined as one’s ability to judge. Maybe one way I can rectify what seems to be contradictory is to say “I consider myself a good judge of character, inconsistensies, patterns, etc; I also will not judge others because I am unaware of who, how, or why they are whatever way.”

My mother and father gave birth to twins, one is an empath and the other, the gift of discernment. Over the years, we’ve had a few of those “twin moments” everyone asks us about. When we were three years old, my sister complained her throat was hurting and after a little persistence, my mother took my sister to get checked out. Courtney was fine; but I then made a small whimper of a cough, and no one took it seriously. Turned out, I was the one who had strep throat. Umpteen years later, I felt a numbness in two of my fingers around 4:30pm in Atlanta; only to speak to my sister-in New York-the next day and be informed her same two fingers got slammed into a car door at approximately 4:30pm.

I was in second grade when I first realized I had the spiritual gift of discernment. On the playground-which really was a large, concrete knoll with park basketball hoops on each side and a faded yellow kickball diamond-of Chapel of the Redeemer Lutheran School on Union Turnpike-I said to myself “I hope Omar and Janaira break up with each other.” I have no idea why I said this; it was a thought which came out of nowhere because it needed to be said. Five minutes later, as our class walked inside to eat lunch, all of the commotion amongst my fellow students was Omar and Janaria broke up.

Over the years, I have had many similar premonitions. In the summer of 2000, I called my aunt and told her “I had a dream you had a baby girl. She was light-skinned and her name began with a T.” It happened on January 18, 2002 when she gave birth to my cousin, Tyler.

Once upon a time, I believed the old tale where men who womanized have daughters. At some point in high school, when I thought such a statement was true, I had a hunch my first child would be a little girl. So as much as humanly possible-I’ve had more than my fair share of moments of indulgence-I have attempted to be careful and very respectful of the women I interacted with; they’re someone’s daughters. Whether it is one date or a lifetime, I try to treat women the way I’d want someone to treat my daughter.

I remember the day Timile left for winter break. A week into our official relationship, we sat through the Godfather Trilogy in a little over a day. Moments after Michael Corleone died in his chair in Italy, I began to cry. I am not a crier at all and never in my life has a movie made me shed a tear (one day I’ll tell the story of how I laughed through the ending of The Best Man Holiday while the whole room boo-hooed); this was different. We had a few moments until I had to take her to the airport and Timile asked me “What’s wrong?” I looked my new girlfriend in the eye and said “You’re going to leave me one day.”

I knew Cydney was going to be left-handed. I used to tell her mother “I think it would be cool to have a left-handed kid. Almost every leftie I know is very creative because the world literally was not made for them.” The mother of my child appreciated my reasoning; but opposed. I first noticed it when Cydney was a toddler and she slammed the refrigerator door with her left hand.

When Timile was diagnosed with cancer, I had a flash in my mind a picture of a day in which I would have to look my little girl in the eye and say “One day, it’s just you and I kid…I got you.” It happened a month later, in the operation waiting room of Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Sometimes I receive whatever these frequencies are for large and small reasons. I have prayed for traveling mercies for friends and their plane get delayed for some engine work. Lifelong friendships have begun because when whomever and I were introduced, I thought to myself “I have a good feeling about this person.” Phone calls and visits I made on a whim turned into impeccable timing for whatever the circumstance.

It’s hard listening to this voice which speaks in the form of a whispered thought, or a wry joke I have made to humor myself. Often, the wisp of a wind has a butterfly effect on my current state of being and brings to the surface some shit I really wished stayed in the annals of my mind. Crippling self-doubt, hurt, anger, recognition of behavioral patterns, stare-downs with my childhood insecurity of feeling misunderstood, and a whole bunch of other shit. But when the damage has been done and the wreckage has been cleaned up, said wreckage serves as resources to build new foundations and warehouses for these compartmentalized thoughts and feelings.

To be honest, I am unsure why I am writing these words. I sat down at my laptop and planned to write a very different essay. But somehow, I got a hunch to write these words down, and I did.

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