The Drain of Discernment

Some people call us empaths, intuitives. Biblically, we are said to have the gift of discernment. Still others chalk it up to wisdom. Whatever you call it, there exists in some people the innate, intangible ability to discern, to sense and perceive truth, motivations, emotions, and even sometimes the paths of other people. Not psychic abilities, not a parlor trick, but a genuine, God-given ability to recognize and empathize.

Before I knew what it was, I had this gift of discernment. As a child I knew immediately who I did and did not like, who I trusted, who was putting on a show. I felt others’ sadness deeply and mourned with them long after parting ways. I sensed their anxiety and insecurities. I bristled at their manipulations. I felt an intense connection with animals and more often than not spent birthday parties talking with my friends’ parents. I didn’t always like every one of my parents’ friends, and people who wore masks did not appreciate that I could see through them. In all, it made for a very, very cynical kid.

As an adult who now recognizes and trusts in this gift, I’m exhausted.

I’m almost the very definition of an extrovert. I absolutely love being around people, draw my energy from crowds. Yet I crave alone time. I thought it was because I’m a stay at home mom and it’s really freaking hard. I thought I was one of those ambiverts or an outgoing introvert. I could not figure out how I’m both energized and drained by human interaction to the point of irritability, fatigue, even sadness. Then I realized it – I’m tired because it literally does drain me. To be constantly searching others for their emotions, their motivations, to be hyper aware of subtleties and sideways glances. I’m never just around people, I feel people.

Sensing others’ emotions and manipulations can really make someone skeptical, disillusioned, even pessimistic. That’s a hard load to carry, and often it’s carried alone. I’ve been accused of being judgemental, harsh, bitter. I’m not perfect, and I definitely wander down those paths sometimes, but when you voice your doubts about someone you tend to look like a jerk. When you don’t fall for shows it’s impossible to wear rose-colored glasses. I’ve felt so strongly before that certain people were not who they presented themselves to be that I’ve doubted myself. I’ve examined my motives, reasons. Was I jealous in any way? Had they slighted me? Do they wear Crocs regularly? I couldn’t put my finger on my uneasiness, especially in comparison to seemingly everyone else’s adoration. Once I even approached a person and apologized to them for the feelings I had that prevented me from developing a relationship with them. And you know what? Every single time my gut was right. Even the person I tried so hard to like, the one I embarrassed myself by approaching and apologizing to.  Every time, every one, they showed themselves to be toxic, harmful people. These alarms going off inside, the gut feeling, the voice of God, they were all discernment, and though I often stood alone in my feelings, I stood in truth. Questioning someone’s motives when you’re uneasy around them doesn’t make you any more judgemental than locking your front door does. But it does make you look like a pretty harsh person to others who don’t have the same sirens blaring inside.

So it gets lonely. It gets sad and hard to be the one who naturally mistrusts some people.

It’s also really sad and hard to empathize.

I love people. Genuinely love people. I want the best for them. I love to help, love to encourage, love to hug. Don’t get me wrong, I like my space and alone time and get really flippin’ frustrated in parking lots (where the worst of mankind always manifests), but I love people. I like talking with them, laughing with them. I cannot go anywhere in public without being drawn into conversation with a stranger. I earned my degree in counseling because I feel so called to help and get the most incredible rush from being able to do so. I can’t always offer my time, I can rarely offer money, but I can offer my empathy… and that mess is draining.

What a privilege to share in life’s greatest emotions with others, but what a struggle to also feel them. I would never wish empathy away, but I do wish for a nap after a particularly heavy conversation. I do wish I could watch movies about injustice or grief and not feel such overwhelming guilt. The feelings are deep. They don’t compare to what someone is going through, obviously, and I would never tell someone I knew exactly how they felt, but what I do feel is intense. Trust that if you have shared your struggles with me, I am feeling a tug for you all day. When I tell you I’ve been thinking about you or praying for you, it’s genuine. Taking on others’ pain, sadness, even joy means taking on more emotions than you yourself would normally feel in a day. You feel enough for one person and then some. I cry way more than I’d like to admit, and sometimes just from how overwhelming all the emotions are. It pulls from you, in ways that cannot be measured. Attempting to explain this fatigue can get you a lot of eye rolls and heavy sighs. It’s tough to explain just how much it pulls from you to care so deeply, but oh, what a wonderful gift it still is. While our hearts run the risk of hardening towards others because of mistrust, they remain tender with this concern we experience.

Ah, our hearts. Such tricky things. We straddle the line between doubt and empathy, using our energy to constantly evaluate those around us – though such feelings aren’t really quantifiable. We’re not ranking, we’re not judging, we’re feeling. And those feelings guide us to a position of silent power that can all too easily be used to manipulate. Our own hearts have to be examined regularly. We feel things others don’t, we know things others don’t, so we sit with this information and are faced with the question of what to do about it. Do we warn others? Do we approach them? Do we just avoid this shifty-feeling person? Or do we use these feelings, this “knowledge” to our advantage? Too many use the ability to read others for their own gain. They sense the relationships of the people around them and play them off one another. They pick up on the egos and the insecurities and hold onto them like poker cards. They lie with incredible ease and skill, knowing just what to say and how to say it. Because of the connection to others’ emotions, they can truly mean the untruths they tell, convince the trusting others. We must keep watch over our own hearts, that whole “with great power comes great responsibility” thing.

I haven’t researched it and I haven’t asked others who I know observe with discernment and empathy, but I have a theory about us: we’re beacons.

Those people I speak with when out running errands, they approach me. Every time. I’ve tried listening to my iPod, I’ve tried taking kids with me, I’ve tried Resting Jerk Face, and still I am approached by any and all kinds of people, chomping at the bit to share their stories and struggles with me. I’ve asked for years, how do they know? What about me draws them to me? Why, after a shift of seeing hundreds of people come through their line, did this cashier choose me to share her broken heart with?

It’s the empathy.

Because we all feel. We all experience emotions. And something about those who can feel the emotions around them calls out to those who are too overwhelmed to feel them alone. I remain convinced of my Father’s love by this, that He has placed people around us who are equipped to share the heavy load. These gifts we have were placed with purpose and intent. Some sing, some write, some do math, some speak, some dance, some paint, some teach, and some feel. It is a gift not just for ourselves, but the people around us. It can serve to both protect and heal, warn and serve. The people who need us will find us, and the people who don’t convince us will remain guarded. We can’t quantify this gift, we can barely prove it, yet almost everyone around us can recognize it enough to react to it.

So we find ourselves drained, emotions and doubt and anxiety and conviction having pulled so much from us. We can feel like we’ve lost ourselves, given away so much of ourselves or taken on so much of others. After 10 hours of sleep emotional exhaustion can still remain. The inability to turn off the radar, the intuition, to remain in a state of vigilance, it creates a state of emotional tenseness, always taut, always waiting, always feeling. We’re watchdogs. It can feel like more is taken from us than we freely give. We don’t often have the luxury of optimism to energize us, because this very surreal gift keeps us firmly planted in realism. And realism tells us we’ll be tired again tomorrow. We must seek out opportunities to be alone, to process these emotions, to be granted reprieve from feeling everyone in the room, from being sought out and so heavily relied upon. We must give ourselves rest, find others who pour in as much as others siphon. We must recognize the toll discernment takes on us and actively protect ourselves from becoming emotional roadkill. As you acknowledge this gift you have, acknowledge the impact it has on you. You know, since with great power comes great responsibility. Go forth, go feel, go rest.

 

Author: Jen

I am the wife of an insanely hot husband and the momma of three precious and exhausting kiddos. I have been given way more than I could ever deserve and I really love naps.

82 thoughts on “The Drain of Discernment”

  1. Candice Enzor says:

    omg. ur my twin, lol. Great article and yes i needed to read this. TY. my being overwhelmed by my gift isnt just me.

    1. This blog post has blessed me! Last night…New Years Eve and I felt the room. Especially someone I knew who has an opinion of me that is not a good one. This tipped me off when I felt his rejection again and my anger flared in response internally. I tried to shut it off but when your a discerner and some is purposefully ignoring you at a party and it feels like all their crap is aimed at you…meh! It made for a difficult night. I kept my distance and pretended again not to notice his disdain. Oh what’s a girl to do? I knew I had a choice to make. To sit and wallow or to just let go of all u was feeling from him. I did that. Later when the goodbye hugs and love you’d were happening the cynical side of it all came back and I spent hours and I mean hours agonizing over this guys issues. It’s draining…hence why I went searching online today and found your article. Thank you! You write so clearly and have given some very much needed insight on this gift. I have always prayed for people when I sense their issues. I have rarely confronted. I have gone to Leadership many times over certain people and situations and often because they don’t see it or feel it they think I’m being judge mental and many avoid me because of that. But when God tells me to go forward I do. There is a cost to following Jesus. I have many times had to let God be my defender.

      I do appreciate you! Your gift and writing from such an honest place. Thank you! Rebecca

    2. Thank you so much for this beautiful post. It’s a great feeling knowing there are actually other people who understand. Life has been so easy but uneasy. People think you’re weird until a prediction happens and sometimes they really side eye you and exit quickly lol but as you stated I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I have a Discerning spirit. Childhood was very hard especially due to lack of understanding of what was happening to me but now that I’m grounded I have my own plat form on you tube and I love connecting with the world. I get so much feed back of how spot on I am sometimes it still amazes me but I’m Thankful to be chosen for the Gift.

    3. Pamela Heath says:

      I’m Pamela. It is 5am and I’m exhausted. It is wonderful to finally know that I am not alone. My gift is exhausting yet tantalizing. I have definitely had to mature into somewhat understanding and excepting that decernment is a gift and not a curse. Thank you for helping me with recognizing “WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY ” and more times than not I must remain quiet and not respond to the ridicule of those that don’t comprehend the heavy load which I have always carried from childhood to now 64 and to add to my exaustion I’m a Gemini lol!! That twin thing is real!! I have sometimes have felt like my own version of “Sybil” I am exhausted and will now continue to rest and be still in my own truth having read your article. Thank you.

  2. It’s awesome to hear there are others with this gift. To date I only know of one other person with this gift. She is a precious sister and we share and build each other up which helps with those moments of overload. May we all learn to walk in it, use it for His glory and to help others.
    Thank you for writing this.

    God bless you and keep you and shine upon you

    1. I happened upon this today and I just wanted to say Thank you so much for the reminder that I am not alone. This is a literal God send.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s so validating and nice not to be alone.

  4. Wow u described my life always thought I was perhaps lazy. Requiring solitude and naps. Always standing out. Even though I try to blend in

  5. confused wife says:

    I love your article. It has a way of explaining this in ways my husband can’t. I do have questions though if you would be able to shed some light. Its a complicated situation though. My husband and I have a friend couple, they are our very best friends. The wife in the couple has this gift just like my husband. I sometimes feel jealous with how much they communicate. Regardless of the gift they both have and the love and trust I have for both of them I am very jealous. I cant fully explain why. She is like family. I trust both of them. Its the emotions they share and she is still another woman taking my husbands attention.

    1. Ann Huston says:

      You have a right to be concerned. No matter how much we think we have control of boundaries, when men and women inact on deeper levels the risk of infidelity is there. If not physical it will be emotional. Trust your gut. That jealousy is there for a reason.

      1. Ann Huston says:

        Also as in Jen’s article some people that decern at higher levels use their gift to manipulate. I believe everyone has some level of decernment and should trust their gut. The more you do the better you will hone in on listening.

        1. Hi your article is me! Childhood and teens yrs were hard. Only in my 40s do I even understand this gift. I also get a twitch in the eye when Im with the wrong ppl or intentions. Thank you 😊 🙏

    2. I would also add, if the wife truly shares this gift, she will be hyper-aware of you and your completely normal response to her connection with him. I often connect with the male side of our friend groups, and work hard at not allowing myself to be where I know I dont belong. And making sure the wife knows I respect her relationship.

      1. Sister in Christ says:

        This article brought me to tears. It rang true on every level. It’s beautiful to be reminded that we have others out there that understand. Thank you!

    3. Susan Gleaton says:

      Dear Confused, If this woman is truly one of us, (empathy) you can sit down and talk with her and tell her that you are very uncomfortable with how much attention she and your husband show each other, even if they have this thing in common, and that people with insight are not the only ones who have strong intuitive feelings about what might be dangerous for them.
      Tell her, if she is your friend, she will respect your wishes and keep in check the attention she shows your husband. And if not, she is no friend of yours.

      1. Dear confused wife:
        I agree that a conversation like this is a sound idea and could provide a good gauge of this lady’s intentions. Have you spoken with your husband one on one, however, about your concerns? I would start with him and express how deeply uncomfortable you feel. Whether either party has ill intentions, I believe that is enough grounds to set some clear boundaries to protect your marriage. There is no reason they have to confide deeply in one another about their giftings; they can find someone of their same gender in this day and age when we can connect with people around the world about all sorts of things. I personally believe that this emotional connection is leaving the door open for the enemy to seize an opportunity when he sees fit.

    4. Sister in Christ says:

      Dear Sweet Confused Wife,
      The connection between two people with discernment is very different from most connections. This is solely because they understand each other instantly and emotionally. They feel before they even speak. My best friend’s husband and I also have discernment. Although not spoken, I often feel her sadness and jealousy if her husband and I engage in “deep” conversation. When this happens we both disengage from the conversation and steer clear of each other. What she doesn’t understand is that he married her for many reasons, I befriended her for many reasons. I’m willing to bet that you are joyful, fun, and exciting. You see the world in a vibrant light. Every day is a chance to experience something new. Two people with discernment are great for visiting, comparing notes and helping the other feel heard, but long term, it can end up a very depressing situation. We are very aware of this. The type of person we need by our side is one who reminds us constantly of the gift of joy. That help us see God’s light in beautiful ways, because unfortunately, sometimes we forget. He chose YOU as his wife. To him, you are a direct reflection of God’s most beautiful things. Warmth, joy, beauty, and light. Remember that!

      1. May I ask a question? If God is showing you her deep negative feelings about your interaction, then would it not be grounds to consider changing the nature of your interaction – out of respect for your friend? There are many women out there to compare notes with.

    5. Hi I’m Elsa I ran across this article and I read it I ran across the question. Just my perspective of your question You have every right to be jealous They have a connection that you can’t understand because you’re not part of that connection. He’s your husband and she’s another woman of course it would be jealousy It’s normal just shows how much you love your husband and how much you love your friend You see a connection that makes you feel like their connection is is more of a personal level as a as a couple people that dated. With someone that has his gift all I can tell you is when you find another kin that has the same kind of sense it feels your heart with joy it makes you feel not so alone though your husband has a lot of love for you I’m sure and her husband is very happy that you are open to this friendship and understand and respect be honest with yourself and tell your husband I know you have closeness because of your gift but I still sense jealousy in my heart and it’s not that I don’t trust you guys It’s just that I see a closeness that is not my eyes is staring at it’s hers makes me feel that cheek is still you from me or that you wouldn’t leave me. Be honest tell him you live more than anything and you don’t want anyone to take him away from you and you want to trust him always and listen to them because of a relationship is meant to work it will last and I’ll stand the test of times I don’t know how long you’ve been together but you came upon these friends together and together you allow your husband to finally be free to share something he has with someone else to understands him it’s hard it’s hard to explain to you It really is and I’m glad this article gives you a sense of understanding that your husband couldn’t give you. All I can tell you is honesty is always this key in any relationship and if you have any doubts if you have any questions if you have any fears in your relationship talk to your partner and tell them I hope that gives you some comfort and some understanding Good luck I wish you nothing but the best!

  6. Selena Maurer says:

    This is the best writing I’ve seen to describe what I’ve never been able to articulate. It’s do nice to know there are others like me. It’s a truly lonely yet overwhelming existence. I’d only known one other “empath” (if you will), but I’ll hold on to this article and read it again and again.

  7. Thank you for your article. I just did a search on “feeling alone gift spirit discernment” and your link appeared.

    I was trying to explain to someone today what it’s like to see behind words said, see the motives, egos, bad spirits and even the spirit of the Lord on someone but I know they don’t get it. And it can be exhausting, when everyone else thinks what was said was fine, or that person is ok, but you see and feel beyond the mask, surface. Now after reading your article I understand why people’s problems weigh so heavily on my heart, even days after I spoke to them. It’s part of the gift. I wish I could meet someone who has this gift too.

    Sometimes, especially recently, I wish I could run away to a cave in the woods and have nothing to do with anyone for a time.

    I don’t control the gift, it’s as the Holy Spirit wills, therefore it sometimes comes at me from left field, surprising me – talked on front of a group of people and unexpectedly I saw 2 people had issues, they were kind of highlighted with bad expressions whereas everyone else was fuzzied out for a brief moment. I decided to continue speaking but just look at the floor.

    No one understands.

    1. Hi Adrianna,

      M You are the first person I’ve heard of that has had the crowd experience too. I have also been publicly speaking and the crowd went fuzzy except two people in the crowd who were highlighted. That’s how I refer to those things that stand out, as highlighted. Along with it came the discernment. I just wanted you to know that someone truly does understand, I understand.
      Tami

    2. Its so encouraging that I am not alone. Just the other night I was asking my husband does God loves me. Am I welcome in His Kingdom. Why is it that I feel the things I am feeling about people. I really thought I am such a bad person. Thank you all for sharing. Everything that is mentioned here is exactly what I am going through EVERYDAY, EVERYWHERE

      1. wow. im in my early 20s and struggle so much even though i have been so blessed in life. makes me feel self absorbed. i think i might use empathy as a scape goat for possible narcissistic tendencies – as i approach my emotions i hesitate and think my way around the gut feeling to try running from the sadness disappointment brings. but itll always be in my back pocket like a score sheet. except i never do anything about it! i just have silent breakdowns at night convincing myself im very evil and a liar. i feel like im loosing my integrity more every day. i have yet to find a friend i cherrish as dearly as id hope for. i know its a given at my age but man oh man i am lonely everywhere no matter what. trapped in a loop of self indulgence. a “i dont care how i feel” loop of caring more than what is sensible. so scared i create mumbo jumbo as a way to cope with being a narcissist. sorry i know this is an uplifting message. please ignore if it doesnt resonate! lol my ex being in town is taking a toll on me..maybe
        bless you for this post got me a little closer to myself perhaps i will think twice about running away from my gut <3

        1. Can I ask – what is accomplished by you convincing yourself that you’re evil, a liar, or a narcissist?

          1. Linda Hoggett says:

            Are you sure it’s not just an enemy attack. It is real and you can fight it with Gods help and Christians. The enemy puts thoughts into our heads that we are no good, not nice etc. and magnified small things so they become massive. God is a forgiving God but the enemy plays on things. You have to fight it with Gods word eg yesterday I got ‘nobody likes you.’ To which I replied God loves me and that is all I need! You are in a battle which you need to learn Gods way of fighting!

  8. Thank you so much for putting words to my daily experience! I haven’t had the opportunity to connect with many people like me, so reading this was such a pleasure!

  9. Ann Huston says:

    Ive been blessed by this. Its validation that is so hard to find in a fake fallen world. We are warriors but alone. Be careful as I was broken. I am trying to get back in the world. Defeated in battle but refuse to give up the war on perception managers looking to prey steal and destroy.

    Thanks

  10. I related to your words so well! Thank-you!

  11. Jack Allen says:

    I too am like you. However I lost my God. You could call me a cynic, however I prefer realist. To all of you who have indicated that you only know one other person with this gift, I’ve met many. And be aware, the lady who is commenting on her jealousy between her husband and a woman from another couple has a valid argument. I also have experienced a failed relationships just because of a connection that felt long-standing I’m someone I just met. People throw around the term old soul so much so that its generic now. It is much more than that. Since you all seem to be religious, apparently Christian, do not be alarmed when you realize it has nothing to do with God. As aforementioned, trust your gut. When you think about your deity trust your gut. Know the masks when you see them. And religion it’s nothing but a global mask. Even though we can read and feel nearly instantaneously. Things like religion, that offer comfort for those like us you often have no respite, are one of our biggest weaknesses. I’m not trying to sway your belief in a higher power I am just trying to get you to understand the higher power is within us not around us. If there be such a thing as gods and divine grace that gives us this gift, then it it’s from us making us, if there ever was, the Gods. This undeserved life is a very appropriate title. Whether you see it as a gift you are not worthy of or a curse you didn’t ask for. Do not despair in loneliness. Despite what it seems like everyday we are many. But then again, you already knew that didn’t you lol! My apologies if I had brought you down. Remember do what you can you can’t save them all. Be careful not to shut people out with the thought that no one can help because they don’t know. Nietzsche said, such fools we are to think that we carry the keys to our own chains. On a lighter note I have often described our gift as Wu-Tang. For those of you who are familiar with hip hop, Wu-Tang is defined as the style to which no one can test. LOL! Thank you for this article thank you all for commenting. Do your best to enjoy your day. And if you see someone today without a smile, give them yours. I’ll give you another one. Best wishes to you all. I shall see you all there.

    1. It is impossible to lose God. The Bible says we were chosen by God before the beginning of time to be like Jesus and to follow him and that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ . I thought at one time i had lost God too, but I realized it was me too ashamed to talk to him. Now I understand he is our father and he loves it when we come to him and is always waiting to hear from us.

      I absolutely loved Jen’sarticle and needed to hear it.

    2. I think you’re missing it.. Christianity is a personal relationship with our God and not a religion. I’ll be praying for you, Jack.. God is always right there walking with you. I pray that he’ll soften your heart and heal whatever it is making you feel far from Him.. and help to be more in tune with His small, still voice. All love 💗

  12. Thank you very much for sharing. It’s comforting to know other people experience the same thing. But what do you do when you’re beyond exhausted but have to keep moving forward? I am/have been seeking God for the answer. I know to wait and be still. Just wondering what others’ experiences in this same season have been.

    1. I honestly just have to hide for a bit. I rest. Watch tv that doesn’t make me emotional. Really just disconnect from the world.

      1. Jen, that resonates. Thank you.

      2. Yes. I just can’t watch sad or really violent movies because I can’t shake it off. This post came after searching for the gift of discernment, after praying for insight at 3 am. It so resonates. Also explains why working from home has some perks. Whew. People often just open up and share with me. And I get the harsh take also. Thanks for really sharing.

      3. Gosh you have expressed everything that I have felt and its getting much stronger. I love being around people but also have to have time alone, watch tv and completely disconnect from the world.
        Wouln’t it be great if we could all connect? I have never come across anyone like me. In my younger days I felt so different and alone – from a different planet! lol

  13. Sarah Campbell says:

    I am a mom who has three daughters. Two of them that have very different giftings than I do. It has been hard to understand where they are coming from. There struggles. I want to understand and help.
    I stumbled upon the description of an “empath” and was blown away…
    This is exactly what is going on with my girls. They are 24 and 16 and really struggling with the weightiness of this.
    As a Christian I am not super comfortable with the new agey term “empath” but I would be lying if I didn’t say the description and even practical advice is bang on.
    I am desperate to find so good biblically based teaching / direction for helping my girls navigate this “gift” well. Please let me know if you have suggestions.

  14. Aside from the extrovert part, you’ve described me quite well. I’ve had this “gift” as far back as I can recall, and in my early adult years, I learned to use it for selfish gain. I am now 2 years into my walk with Christ, and am called to use this for His glory. I don’t know any others with this particular gift, but I find respite in Psalm 91:4, Psalm 46:10, and Exodus 14:14. I hope that helps someone else along the way.

    1. Brooke Albright says:

      ♥️Thank you

  15. Angelle LeBouef says:

    Empaths aren’t to be just left with these burdens for not reason! We are intercessors! We are burdened so we can intercede! That’s where we can lay the burdens down at the foot of the cross. I have been the same way my whole life, Ezekiel is a prime example of this gift we’ve been given. I pray we all find our place in intercession.

    1. Hi. I have been told this before, however I have also been told to not use this gift to “tear the church apart.” I say this because 2 pastors I have had as church leaders are wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s a feeling I have even tried to ignore. I have also investigated to validate my intuition …but have been told to just “leave it alone.” So I have left church families in order to preserve peace. I have left family and friends to preserve peace as well because I know this gift is perceived as judgmental. How do we use this gift and it not be seen as a threat to all? I am not worried about the evil people that seem to also know I have this gift, but I am deeply concerned how it impacts those without the gift that can’t understand my feelings and think it’s jealousy or judgment.

    2. Thank you for this reminder!

  16. Kasey D Harris says:

    I really like your take on being a beacon. I am sometimes surprised at how people will talk to me like you described, I’d always assumed those people share with everyone that way.
    But if this is a God given gift, it would make sense that they’d seek us out.
    I’ve prayed for 2 different people I’ve never met for years, because I felt their stories so deeply on the radio or TV.
    Fascinating insight, thank you.

  17. Thank you so much for this. I have no one else in my life that understands my gift. At times, it tears me apart. Sometimes I even have someone’s emotions “pounce on me” out of left field when I am completely not expecting it and it is exhausting, heart wrenching and frustrating all at once because I am fine, happy, singing in my car and then BAM I am crying for the person who just walked by my car. I stop and pray for them but it takes a couple of minutes to catch my breath and get my feelings under control realizing I am not feeling for myself. I also feel guilty when I immediately know something bad about someone. I tend to want to judge myself for feeling that way. Your article let me see that there are others like me and as long as I use what God gave me to pray for people and not use it against them in any way, I am doing what I am supposed to do. I just wish I had someone near by to occasionally talk it over with who also stood in my shoes. Thank you again!

    1. Curious, when you meet we shall just say “dark hearted” people…do you feel they can sense your gift? I initially thought it was me giving off a I don’t know you but don’t like you vibe, so I have tried to mask my feelings. However, it’s almost an instant mutual dislike.

  18. I could have written this myself! I am even studying counselling!!! Thank you so much for penning this!
    I really needed to hear it, today!

  19. Emerie Espinosa says:

    is it possible that this gift or some form of it could also be to sense the “bad vibes” or “evil presences” in others? I am going into my jr year of college and I interact with different people every day but this past year I have had two incidents that to me were severe. 1st I was in a class and the first day I walked in calm and confident, more classmates walked in and I was fine eager to mingle with my peers, but it wasn’t until one person walked in that my body seemed to freeze over and I felt like I had a tight chest, and at first I blew it off as first-day of school jitters. But then one day this person walked in behind me and we were the only two waiting in class and a wave of intense panic ran all over my body and I had to leave and wait for others to enter before I could feel semi-safe in class with this person. I even was at an event and was “chilled out” then i got literal chills and my stomach tightened so I turned and looked around to maybe see what was happening and this person was standing near the entrance. the second incident occurred when I was at my on campus job. I was on my way there and the closer I got the more of this intense panic and stomach tightening feeling I got, we had just had new person join us and i had no idea they were working that night. I went to the bathroom walking past this persons office and once again i got chills over my body and a panic feeling. I then turned and went to ask another coworker to join me so i could feel semi-safe again. later that work shifti noticed my body calm and my stomach untighten. i asked my friend to walk back to the bathroom with meabout an hour later as i didn’t feel comfortable having to go past that persons office alone and our manager came up and said oh it is only us three here (said person) left an hour ago. i am also drawn into the field of psychology as i want to counsel families and children, and everyone i know has said I’m the only person they come open up to. i always thought oh the lord wants me to serve others and be there as ana advisor of some sort but lately it is like i am sensing the different vibes people give off at a higher level. just wanted to share and gather some input from others. thanks 🙂

    1. Absolutely! I fully believe that these feelings are warnings, the voice of God, knowing something unknowable to protect yourself or others. It’s a form of wisdom. Those experiences sound intense! It sounds like you’re on such a great track, wanting to use this gift to help others. They sense the safety in you, and you connect with them in a way many others can’t and be led to say exactly what they need to hear. It’s intense, and it can take a lot out of you at the end of the day, but it’s a gift that sounds like is not only for your benefit, but the benefit of others. ❤️

    2. Read your comment after posting something similar just a few comments ahead of yours. Yes!!!! Yes yes yes…all day yes!

  20. Angelia Reddick says:

    This article was so on time. I was looking for an article on why I feel and care for others mire than the person cares for him or herself and read your and the other experiences. I always knew that discernment was a gift, but have never read it in the context by which you broke it down. Thank you

  21. Hi
    I am literally in tears right now. I cry daily and ask Gid what is wrong with me. Why I cant be normal. Why do I act as if I am jealous of others, why do I see beyond what a person says or do. I feel so heavy at times and even cry , weeping during church services. Mist of the times I wanna be alone. And the birthday experience that you shared, is exactly what I experienced growing up. May God richly bless you. I feel so liberated and accepted😭😭😭😭. Now that I know, I pray to God Almighty that the Holy Spirit guides me to use it wisely

    1. Siomarajc27 says:

      Pinky I totally feel you I too cry throughout church service and worst I feel guilty of always feeling sad. I too feel alone in this but it’s comforting to know now there are others like this. It would hurt to hear grown kids n their spouses believers and non believers tell me we all feel like that but inside I would say you guys just don’t understand. Pinky God bless you thanks for your time

  22. Jacqueline Castillo says:

    I’m 54 yr old female and for years I’ve struggled with the effects of being an empathic but it wasn’t til a few days ago that I came across the subject and realized that I was one. So many days and nights of tears of unexplained sadness anxiety heaviness of spirit and so much more toxicity and negativity but most of all being unstable. I had no clue and like others asked and wanted to b normal like everyone else. My children are grown now but it even affected my relationship with them they cannot understand me and well I get treated so distant and yes it made me sad all these years. There is one of my daughters that no matter how hard I try she rejects me with explosive behavior I love her so much like I do each one of my children and the others are done with her and will not b bothered with her but she is a struggling young single mother and I have been so unstable that am unable to help her financially and at times physically. There is days I am so drained and emotionally am mess with depressive feelings and you get it Practically a basket case. I had no idea this is what I had and never knew how to manage it. I always wondered why I felt the way I did. I was labeled bipolar and that’s what I was treated like. Guys now after reding a few information articles on empathy I believe that is me and I believe the emotional one idk bout the intuitive one since I just sense people’s pain and emotions. And they seem to stay with me. I on two accessions told someone “I can feel other people’s pain”.
    So now that I know what happens from here idk what to do I don’t wanna continue living/struggling throw life this way. How do I manage or live with it as a Christian should live ……… in peace? Not letting nothing nor no one disrupt my peace cuz I’ve never felt at peace I’ve always felt I spent my life walking on eggshells.

  23. Robyn Malvasia says:

    Yes. This describes me. My husband has adhd and notices nothing. So home I experience last fe is even more entense. Thanks.

  24. Oh Jen! I’ve never felt more heard and understood before! It’s so comforting and refreshing knowing there’s many of us God gave this special gift to and we’re not walking alone.. God put this article on my lap. I’ve been praying God would assure my gift to me and this gave me all I would ever need. Thank you thank you thank you!

  25. I felt like I wrote this. I cried but smiled. I use to be mad that I had this gift and now I embrace what my father has anointed me with, it’s all for His glory and I will serve the people that He brings me. God bless you and may you always find rest in Him

  26. I was so pleased to find your article after seeing most that is written on this subject is new age rhetoric and dangerous for those with this gift. It would be easy to consider emptying your mind, meditation etc as a way to calm and live with this. Dangerous.

    The fact that it is a “spiritual” gift is encouraging and shouldn’t be considered a burden. I literally just came to that conclusion after reading this article. Thank you for that.

    But considering it is the Spirit of God who in dwells us and prompts us – another tho guy that worth contemplating. To become more untuned to that which you call “gut” insert Holy Spirit. When he says GO we go, when he says “back off” we should back off.

    You have given me a lot to think and pray about. I am grateful I have been gifted this way, it not only protects me and my family but others.

    We cannot “throw caution to the wind” it is not in our nature.

    If anyone has Christian Resources on this subject I would be honored to read them.

  27. Discerners don’t abound within their own circles, but they do in the world; and they always find one another; this is God’s truth.

  28. Jay Mabry says:

    I have this gift as well and most of the time it feels like a curse. I have been a probation officer for 20 years not and it has really helped me connect with the offenders I interact with, but having to deal with a lot of bad officers in the past years have really drained me. I can see straight through people and in turn I think they know that I can, thus a lot of people not liking me. I turned several in about 2 years ago and ever since then I have been dealing with officers trying to blackball me. My faith has kept me strong. It seems like the closer I get with God, more the attacks increase though. I have been battling in my head whether or not to take care of it legally, but the lord is pushing me not to. I believe he is using me so people around me will see that I walk the narrow path of righteousness.

  29. Linda Hoggett says:

    Hi, I am really struggling. I seem to have the gift of discernment. It started a couple of years ago. At first I thought my sensitivity had developed into hypersensitivity. I can feel other people’s emotions and sense/see when things aren’t right with someone. I feel very judgemental. I am struggling being near non-Christians which includes my family as all this stuff comes at me and makes me very anxious. I can’t bare being around people as all this stuff comes at me. I don’t know if this has become worse due to exhaustion. Currently I am finding it hard to work as I pick up on so many things from others it overwhelms me. I don’t know how to deal with this. I did wonder if it was hyper vigilance due to anxiety.

    I really enjoyed the first lockdown as I had complete peace.
    In addition an elders wife at church whom I am close to use the word nutters to describe a group of Christians who had mental health challenges like depression and bipolar and some prophetic. This has really sent me into freefall as I felt horrified inside as it follows a couple of other incidents.

    Is this because I’m over sensitive?

    Is the only way I can deal with this to socially isolate myself?

    I am finding this so upsetting and would appreciate any advice on how to deal with this and how to tell if it’s my own anxiety?

    1. It could very well be anxiety. Discernment is intended to be a gift from God, but the fear you’re experiencing seems to be more of a reaction to what others will think of you, you worrying that something is wrong with you. You’re RIGHT to be horrified at the woman calling people “nutters”. You’re sensitive to the very real struggles experienced, blessed with empathy and not judgement.
      I would encourage you to begin praying for how to use this gift. You’re so overwhelmed with the input of it all, but don’t appear to have a way to use it. It will require confidence and confrontation, but if you’ll use what you have to affect change, you don’t have to keep it all in. You weren’t given this to bear everyone’s weight, but to call out what would otherwise remain hidden. You are a tool to be used, not a sponge to soak up everyone’s feelings and just store them. You were given discernment to do God’s work, and it is a LOT, but it’s time to start working with it. ❤️

  30. Question, God has called me to feel other ppls emotions to pray over them. I started this job, and there was a coworker whom I started to gather very strong feelings for. Which to me was very very odd, as that is not something normal for me. This coworker texted me daily, telling me they missed me etc… I told this coworker to back off as I didn’t want these feelings in my heart and told them to leave me alone. Can it be that I was feeling this persons emotions for me? Can these not be my own feelings but there’s? How can I rid myself of something like this?!

  31. I spend allot of time absolutely exhausted. I pick up so much extra data I get overwhelmed by people. I doubt what I am seeing and don’t know what to do with it. It got so bad at one point I couldn’t stand people around me. I haven’t been able to get my family to understand. I became a Christian and it got nut stronger. My sister feels like I don’t want her around, it’s not that I just can’t stand her around as much as I use to. I see things in people I don’t like, on some occasions I hear their thoughts and things written on their faces. It is horrible. I just end up spending allot of time alone with God. I use to be able to help people more, but I get so drained. Could anybody please advise me how to deal with this better, or how I am meant to use this. Thankyou

  32. Cheryl Herth says:

    Wow, great article. I realize most people just want someone who understands them. Because that’s how I felt.

    Also, the thought of having someone to converse with that “gets” you is priceless.

    Most importantly, it’s imperative for us to decide if our ability is GOD’s gift of discernment or as the world coined intuitive. It will make one’ life easier.

    The difference (illustrative purposes) is similar to one being a prophet or psychic. Why? You must know the difference.

    Remember, the Spirit even spirituality can be used both in and out of the Body of Christ. Or, Christians and “non” Christians.

    It’s important to seek GODly counsel if your life is in Christ our Lord.

  33. I’m not a mum but I’ve always known I had the gift of discernment and just came across this article and basically balled so hard reading it… I feel so understood and finally someone has explained exactly what I’ve been feeling and going through since I was a teen I’m now 24.
    This answered a prayer, thank you for writing this and reminding me I’m not alone & I can do this

  34. I was doing some googling today due to me having a couple of intense emotional experiences lately. My fiancé and I are both godly people, she was more intense then I due to me not being around it growing up. I expressed my unexplained ability to sense peoples true motive and she called it discernment which I had no idea about. Then it happened again, I was training a new employee on a road service and fell asleep driving back to the shop and had a dream of someone running off the road and wrecking. And when we got around the curve there was a roll over, all I could feel in that moment was an overwhelming sensation of fear and could do nothing but pray for the people involved.

    Today I dropped my daughter off at school and we didn’t have coffee made at home so I was going to go into my workplace to get some then decided against it and was going to go to sonic. But they didn’t open until 8 and so I decided to leave but was pulled to go into The store attached to my shop. Where I started to make my coffee. And one of the managers (whose brother is in the hospital unresponsive) was walking around, and I could tell he was upset. So I started talking with him and asking how he was doing. He explained the situation and that he didn’t know what to do. So I said I would pray for God to give him guidance and he started to choke up so I gave him a hug. And in that moment it was like I absorbed all his feelings. I could feel his sadness, his hurt, and his lostness. I then sat in my car and began to cry due to the overwhelming emotion I was feeling and all I could think about was this man needed my prayers. And once I prayed the emotion started to release up on me.

    It was so intense it took my breath away.

  35. Thank you! I as well, searched this topic. People who know me call me freaky, lol, because I just know things. I am struggling in a relationship with a close friend, who now has been telling me lie after lie, after lie. When I approach, he gets defensive and one time shut me out for a day. It’s like the heaviest weight upon me. I know every single lie they tell and then comes the proof that I spend time looking for . But that’s the thing- the constant investigation, thinking, trying to prove myself wrong because I love them. I’m dying inside. My brain won’t shut off. Thank you so much for your article!

    1. Have it out with them! Treat them with the dignity to ask them about it honestly. It will either get it out 9n the open, or prove you wrong. Both are good 8n the long run.

    2. To Erin and I think there are a few other ladies in this thread who seem to have been involved in similar situations!! – Please read some books on narcissitic personality disorder – a good author to begin with is Lundy Bancroft who wrote “Why Does He Do That?” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” I also recommend “The Samurai Husband” by Matt Ulrich, if you want to see what a good Christian man strives to be like! It turns out that narcissitic men are very attracted to empathetic women, and I personally was fooled by one, even though I normally can discern a bad person a mile away. They can fool us at first because a narcissist feels joy when they are fooling you and they really like empathetic/sympathetic people – until you catch on to them!! When I started catching my ex in lie after lie even about the smallest most insignificant things and confronted him about it, it was over in all but the leaving, because then I was the enemy. For the narcissist it’s all about what you can do for him and when you do a lot, as an empath will, he could not be more happy with you and he will think he loves you, but he really only loves himself and he loves that you love him. When you start catching him doing things that are hurtful to you (lying. hiding all the things he does to enrich himself at your expense, depriving you but rewarding himself, fogetting about anything important to you, but never giving up anything important to him, etc., and you ask him why, he will not have a good answer and he will not admit he did anything wrong and he will be mad at you for thinking he did anything hurtful to you. I didn’t know how bad narcissim could be when that happened to me, so it took a while for me to get that it wasn’t me, and that he could never change. It sounds like you have entered that phase in your relationship. Eventually, he will become violent because enemies (i.e., anyone critical of him) need to be punished (first it is shunning for a period of time (until you apologize), then it will progress to other things, and ultimately it usually results in physical harm especially if you argue with him and try to convince him he is wrong about anything – losing at anything especially an argument can produce rage!). Please read up on the subject and save yourself. I have now found an empathetic man and could not be happier!! In hindsight, you will see that your narcissist never really cared about your life, only about how you cared for his. In contrast, another empath will show care and concern for everthing about you from the very beginning and not exclusively for himself! I pray for the very best to come to you!!

  36. Thank you for sharing this and putting into words something that I did not know how to describe. I know I have had this all my life, as I child I could tell who to stay away from. Growing up just put it the area of gut feelings as I wasn’t a Christian. Became a Christian at 31 years old and started learning what I was feeling. I know now it’s discernment and I question myself exactly as you did. I remember when 911 happened and we attended church that even I was so overwhelmed with grief that I had people asking me if I knew someone who passed away. Then I had some people tell me it was fear, I diffently knew it was not that as I am not a fearful person. I have most of my past 35 years worked with low income families and single moms. I can tell when someone is not sharing the truth with me, feel the grief they are feeling and asked myself the same hard questions you did.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart . I’m not crazy.
    One thing I have learned to do when supervisors, co workers , clients and family are not being truthful is wait on the Lord to reveal it, or I have what I call my heart to heart talk and share that I am feeling such and such.
    Many blessing to you for sharing
    What are some of your

  37. Christian woman says:

    I’d have those discerning feelings about people, especially once I became a Christian, but I’d try to tone it down within myself, because I didn’t want to make what might be seen as snap judgements, at least until I’d get to know them better. But every time, I’d find out that what I saw in them at first sight, was who they really were. I finally realized that discernment was given to KEEP ME from getting too close to them in the first place. Because I was afraid of being called “judgmental”, in my quest to give them the benefit of the doubt, I allowed myself to become involved with people who would end up using me, betraying my confidence, or causing me harm in some way. I was fighting what I should have embraced. I wasn’t allowing the gift to work the way it was intended. Now that I’m older I don’t fight it. God gives that gift for a reason. I pray for people often, and I’m not being judgmental if I see something in them I should see. Most often it gives me compassion for them because I know everyone has issues, but becoming their next victim is not my job. Other times I’ve sensed real evil in some people, even people that others thought were good and decent, or at least mostly harmless, and over time the truth about them came out to almost everyone’s surprise. On the other hand I’ve seen good in certain people who’d been harshly misjudged by many, only to find out that they were who they said they were, and not the person they were falsely accused of being. We can also discern the hidden good in others, if we have the gift of discernment.
    Though we are not to seek vengeance on our enemies, it’s better to not get involved with certain people in the first place. Some things we bring on ourselves, through bringing the wrong people into our lives, in the first place. How many women have hooked up with men they knew inside were not good guys, but thought they could change them, only to be abused and oppressed by them for years afterward. If only they’d not gotten involved in the first place. Men that abuse even “just once” during the dating period, will not suddenly change once married. They’ll actually get worse because they don’t feel they have to put on a ‘show’ for the women any longer now that they’re married. That’s when their worst “true colors” will come out, usually with a vengeance. Many abused women will say there were lots of “red flags” while dating, but they thought they could somehow change him over time.
    As an introvert I’m comfortable being alone, but everyone needs friends, including introverts. I’d rather have a couple of good, true and reliable friends, (along with my dear husband, three grown children and 5 grandchildren, my siblings and my parents, who are my inner circle), than dozens of shallow, surface only “friendships”, which only equates to a bunch of ‘likes’ on Facebook. If you’ve never called someone first when you had a problem because you knew they’d listen and would not betray your confidence they’re probably not the true definition of ‘your friend’ The word “friend” has lost its meaning because it’s SO overused especially on social media.
    I see extended family members, (cousins, aunts, uncles; mostly for holidays). That’s MORE than enough for me because some of them I don’t enjoy being around, but seeing them for 3 hours at Christmas or Thanksgiving is usually doable. I don’t miss them when I haven’t seen them for most, or even all, of the year. Although we should try to get along with people, we’re not meant to be friends, or close, with everyone, but if I hear they or their family needs prayer I’ll pray for them right away, and from the heart, because I do care what happens to them, even if I only know them from afar. But I don’t consider them my friends in the truest sense of the word. I don’t confide in someone I barely know, because they haven’t earned my trust, since trust only builds with time. ( I learned all this the hard way). Trust only builds with time.

  38. Jen, God bless you! I pray God continues to use your writing to help edify his people! Thank you for writing this. I am so thankful to the Holy Spirit for guiding me to this page. It has helped me alot.

  39. Can we start a private Facebook group??????? This has been such a lonely place to be and knowing there are others… I felt like I was reading my diary!!!!

  40. I’m so physically, spiritually, and emotionally drained and tired from this gift. Don’t get me wrong please, I’m grateful to God. I’m just so tired, I was looking on the internet to see if this discernment is just my mind and I came across this article. I over emphasize and it’s as if I can’t help myself. I’m currently engaged and everything in me is saying something isn’t right but I second guess myself because I don’t want to be wrong. I just don’t know what to do, I’m tired and have no more energy left. Please pray for me

    1. Oh goodness, my heart aches for you, truly. It *is* exhausting. The fears you have with your fiancé, do you feel they’re based more off of “something isn’t right” or a trauma reaction of “something COULD BE not right”? You have a very big decision to make, but you’re allowed to take some time to make it. I’m sure there’s immense pressure from multiple sources, but you are within your rights to take whatever time you need. It’s also worth discussing with your fiancé what your fears and feelings are. Best of luck to you, and I’ll definitely be praying for peace and clarity for you. ❤️

  41. Wendy Burger says:

    You wrote the exact feelings , emotions, thoughts, doubts, fears, ect….. I have had people mention it before however today I decided to find if what this “discernment” was all about !!! I apparently have had it since a child. I had a traumatic childhood and other trauma thru school ( the kind you don’t realize til later ) married my high school sweetheart had 3 kids and stayed married for 28 years. There was emotional, mental and psychological abuse . Yes , physical abuse but it wasn’t hitting ( I KNOW here I go Justifying again). , In 2017 he had to go to prison for a few months for threatening police officers. He came home and things we are ok for a a few years but there was a slow change in him. The physical abuse turned into hitting in 2018 , episodes like every 6 months. There was a horrific event in 2020 but I always stayed home, kids were all grown and gone by 2016, no money , he sold my car, I was on 60 acres 30 minutes away from friends or family . I didn’t know what to do . I prayed a lot !!!! We had a planned vacation already paid for with my brother and I was so excited because it was something we use to do with our kids . We went , he left me 3 days later on a beach in Florida penniless 3 states away. Yes , thank God , I had my brother . I went back started doing odd jobs for neighbors, hid money, my nephew gave me a Jeep and I was on my best behavior but I was making a way , just didn’t know when or how . He came in one evening cussed me and pushed me around blah blah blah … Minded myself yada yada and my friend called need someone to stay with her grandma. He said yes cause it was at night and he could take me . Another way to prepare . One day he called and was mad cussing raising hell . He was on his way home , by this time I was drinking daily to cope, I went in our barn and hit my knees and hysterically screamed begging God to please show me !!! He comes home throws dinner in the floor , I DID NOT SPEAK a word !! I went in the bedroom and he said , “ WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET YOUR SHIT AND LEAVE”!!! I didn’t flinch !! I got the Jeep keys , Jeep didn’t have a tag or registration at the time , however I left went sat with the grandmother. I came home the next morning called my brother asked if I could come and he said come on by and I said no stay . My brother didn’t hesitate. I HAVE NOT SPOKE TO MY EX HUSBAND SINCE MAY 20th 2021. I have known him since I was 12 , he was my everything but I lost him!

    I told you that because until today I didn’t realize that my gift of DISCERNMENT is what gave me what I needed to leave .
    He later told a mutual friend he had been thinking of how he was going to kill us both .

    I am 50 years old now happy , still fearful and trying to find true peace . I often get so physically and mentally exhausted but I see now living in an apartment is not a good place to be.

    Thank you for this article it will definitely be in my files to remind myself, TO ALWAYS LISTEN TO MYSELF !!!

    Love to you all

    W.Burger

  42. We are a like when i was a kid a could tell right off if someone is dangers. I am sensitive to the Holy spirit.

  43. Thank you so much for writing this – it makes me feel not so alone!

  44. I found this information to be right on. I learned I had the gift of discernment in a “what are your gifts” class at our church. The pastor said I was “special” because he has not met many people with that gift. However, this has been a curse for me. Because I can tell when someone is lying to me, I found out that my husband had been emotionally cheating on me with every woman who paid him any attention. When confronted, he would give me these outrageous stories that no one would believe. I know there was no sex involved because he is physically incapable of having sex. I stayed with him for a lot of reasons but I couldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. I never have had a lot of friends because of my gift. I’m an introvert and I like it that way.

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