Recently, one of my kids proceeded to share with me plans for the upcoming weekend. They were complicated plans, involving several other people, three different destinations, at least two car rides with a teen driver and a car full of teens, and a sleepover at a house I was not familiar with.
I tried to quickly assess the situation, sifting out the parts of the day I felt okay about and the parts I didn’t. My hesitation and questioning caused an escalation of emotion, including an onslaught of “Why don’t you trust me?!” and “Everyone is going!!!.” Without me being able to give my blanket consent for the plans in their entirety, my child stormed out of the room and went to bed.
I took a deep breath and talked it over with my husband, who had the same concerns. We determined what activities we’d allow and what we wouldn’t. We decided we’d offer our driving services in lieu of inexperienced drivers and teen-filled cars. And because of his work schedule, I was the lucky one who would deliver the verdict to the disgruntled child in the morning.
Before I approached my child, though, I approached the Throne of Grace. My heart was so heavy. I hate confrontation. I especially hate it when it involves people I love. I hate being the one to have to lower the boom when my child is excited about friends and plans. I also hate when I don’t have a good, solid reason to say no.
All I have is a gut feeling.
So, I prayed for wisdom and discernment. I prayed that God would help me separate irrational fears from potential danger. I asked Him to prepare my child’s heart so when I discuss all this with her, she’d receive it. I asked for more insight as to why I didn’t feel good about it. After all, as far as I know, these are all nice kids with good families (mine, included). My children are getting older and more independent and there will be times they participate in things that may leave me a little unsettled. That’s all part of the growing process, right?
So, why do I feel so icky inside?
And I felt the Lord say to my heart in response,
“That gut feeling? That’s my Spirit. That’s the Spirit of Discernment. That’s the Spirit of Wisdom. I put that in you. Trust it. You do not need to apologize or tread lightly when you feel it. You need to move forward in the direction I’m leading, unapologetically. You do not need to know why. You just need to obey.”
After walking with God for over 30 years, I’m learning what His voice sounds like. I know that gut feeling well. It doesn’t just come with parenting. I get it about a lot of things regarding marriage, ministry and my own personal walk. I’ve tested it enough times (both by ignoring it and obeying it) to know it’s the real deal.
Every day, we have opportunities to test the inner voice to see if it’s God. Just a few days later, I had a similar feeling, and I allowed my child to proceed with something, even though my gut was telling me otherwise. I warned the child about my feeling, but I let the child make his own decision. It didn’t turn out well.
I’m learning to trust God’s voice in me. The more I test it, the better I get at hearing it.
“Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” Hebrews 5:14 NLT
If you’re a parent, you get that gut feeling, too. I know you do. It’s the way God speaks to moms and dads to help us protect our children when we can’t be there to physically protect them. It’s how we lead them in the best paths when they are too old to physically lead them. Sometimes, we don’t have any explanation for why we feel good or bad about something, except a strong inner sense.
I’m here to tell you, test that feeling. Then TRUST THAT FEELING!
Though our children don’t understand it yet, they can rejoice and be thankful that God speaks to their parents and protects them this way. As they grow and mature in their faith, they, too, will develop discernment. Our children will hear God speaking to them, and He will confirm it. Maybe it will be in His word. Or maybe it will be by something we say. But God will be training them to have the skill to hear His voice.
Ultimately, isn’t this our goal? To help them develop their own faith in God? To teach them to recognize the difference between right and wrong for themselves?
Since that morning when I prayed, I walk with new resolve. I am committed to bring my requests to God and ask for His Spirit to guide me, in parenting and in everything. I am committed to listen intently for the deep inner voice inside. I am committed to seek God for insight and knowledge regarding situations and people and opportunities.
But if I get nothing but a strong gut feeling, I’m trusting it, and I’m going with it.