Most of my life I’ve known that being judgmental is not kind, and to live and let live and accept everything and everyone as they are, is. I believe this is a good principle to live by. But what about when we know that something just isn’t right with a certain situation or person? We feel it, yet we question it because we could be judging.

I’ve experienced quite a few of these situations in my life and looking back I see the times when I didn’t listen to my gut screaming, “red flag.” I asked myself why did I not pay attention to this sign? I can look back now and see where my failure to listen and pay attention to my gut got me into painful and challenging situations that took quite sometime to resolve.

Somewhere along the way I heard the word “discernment.” I wasn’t sure what this word meant or that it was in close relation to judgment. One of the many teachers along my journey helped me too see and understand that there is a difference between judgment and discernment. Feeling that something isn’t right for me or for my children is not a judgment, it is discernment.

For example, when my son was about twelve years old, he asked if he could visit a friend, and if I would take him there. I did what I knew to do, which was to ask about his friend, where he lived, and for the mother’s phone number. I talked with the mother. She sounded nice and amenable to having my son over for a visit.

“There are times when it’s important to discern and to listen to our intuition, and most of all to trust and honor what we feel and know.”

Later that day my two daughters and I drove my son to his friend’s home. I looked around as we pulled into the trailer park neighborhood. It wasn’t the best-kept or cleanest looking neighborhood, but I decided not to judge the book by its cover and go in and meet his friend and family.

As his friend opened the door there were two other children, one a toddler eating out of a big potato chip bag. I asked for his mom and he said she was sleeping. It was the middle of the afternoon, the house was quite messy, and it smelled like cigarette smoke. The mom didn’t come out to meet us. Again, I thought to myself, “I’m not going to judge.”

I said good-bye to my son and left. As I drove about a block from where I left him, I had a feeling so intense that I could not ignore. My daughters noticed that I was in deep thought and asked me what was wrong. I said to them, “I’m turning around and getting Kanyon.” They asked why and I told them, “I just don’t feel right about leaving him there.” So I turned around.

When we got to the house I told my son that I changed my mind, he needed to come home and that his friend was welcome to come to our house. At that time his friend went and woke up his mother. I told her I was taking Kanyon home and offered for her son to come for a visit with us. She was apologetic for not waking up earlier and said yes, her son could come and visit and that her older daughter would pick him up later.

So was this a judgment or discernment? I know today that it was discernment. I felt it wasn’t in my son’s highest good to stay with his friend for hours with no adult supervision in a smoke filled home.

There are times when it’s important to discern and to listen to our intuition, and most of all to trust and honor what we feel and know.