What is Your Spiritual Gift?

Today’s blog post is from my friend and fellow writer, Siv Ricketts. Siv has graciously shared a fantastic post about Spiritual Gifts – what they are all about how to find out which one(s) you have been blessed with, and how to put them into every day practice.

Do you appreciate the insights you receive from personality assessments? Not fluffy magazine quizzes like “What’s Your Home Decor Personality?” but assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Enneagram Personality Test, and the Five Love Languages?

Psychologists and thought leaders have invested years of research into these typologies that can help us understand the unique individuals God created us to be.

Knowing our various types can offer greater awareness on how we perceive the world, what energizes us, how we interact with others, how we give and receive love, and the strengths we share with the world.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, have you also taken a spiritual gifts assessment?

What are Spiritual Gifts?

Simply put, God gives each member of His family an ability we use to serve others. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Paul writes, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” Reading further in 1 Corinthians 12 and also in Romans 12:4-8,

Paul compares the Church to a body; our bodies have different parts for different purposes and we need all the parts—feet to walk, hands to hold, eyes to see, etc. And so the Church—composed of people around the globe and throughout time, each possessing different gifts for different purposes—comes together as one whole, diverse, and powerful Body of Christ.

This article includes brief descriptions of 18 spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible:

  • Administration
  • Apostleship
  • Discernment
  • Evangelism
  • Exhortation
  • Faith
  • Giving
  • Healing
  • Helps
  • Hospitality
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Mercy
  • Prophecy
  • Serving
  • Speaking in Tongues (aka: Shepherding)
  • Wisdom

Some also include Craftsmanship among the gifts, mentioned in Exodus 31 as a gift God gave to artisans tasked with building, designing, and decorating the Tabernacle.

Additionally, there may be gifts the biblical writers didn’t think to include or that wouldn’t have made sense culturally. For example, a woman who volunteered with the high school group at our church showed up every week with at least one plate of home baked cookies.

She watched and listened for the lucky duck God would place on her heart, and offered them cookies as an encouragement. A gifts assessment might point to encouragement or helps or even prayer, but truly, her gift was baking cookies.

Spiritual gifts and your identity.

Spiritual gifts often overlap with other aspects of your personality and/or skills you possess, and they might not. I wrote stacks of papers in college and I practice daily to hone my writing skills, yet I don’t always exercise my spiritual gifts when I write.

Case in point: unless you happen to find an analysis on “To be, or not to be?” more encouraging than philosophical, you probably won’t feel spiritually encouraged by my papers on Hamlet.

Religious leaders mostly agree that your gifts remain the same for the long haul. As much as you might like to swap with a friend, spiritual gifts aren’t available for lunchtime trades. However, God certainly retains the freedom to hand you another gift for a special occasion.

Some believe that God gave certain charismatic gifts—such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, and healing—exclusively to the Early Church. [You’ll read why shortly, but I believe God still extends all of His good gifts like the fabulous rainbow of colors in the big box of Crayolas].

Why does knowing your spiritual gift matter?

While personality assessments help you understand who you are individually, in relationships, and at work, knowing your spiritual gifts can help you identify the roles you can play in strengthening the Body of Christ. If you’re involved in ministries, you’re likely already exercising your gifts.

Or perhaps you’re filling a position, doing good things and wondering why it feels forced and unfulfilling. Knowing your spiritual gifts can increase your effectiveness in the work of God’s kingdom and help you find your best fit among all the available options. Let me summarize my top three reasons that knowing your spiritual gifts matters:

God gave you a gift and wants you to enjoy it.

Imagine you gave a carefully selected gift to your friend Lucy. You wrapped it in fancy paper and set a glittering bow atop the package. And you couldn’t wait to watch Lucy open the gift but instead, she set it aside and brushed off your suggestion to open it.

You know she’d enjoy your gift yet time has passed and Lucy still hasn’t opened it. God gives us good gifts; let’s not treat them like Lucy did.

We’re all connected.

Have you ever lost your voice, or strained a muscle that made it difficult to go about your daily activities? We take for granted having all our parts in working order until suddenly some part doesn’t function properly.

Consider Paul’s body analogy: which part of the body might you be, and what would we all miss if you didn’t play your part? Also, what would we miss if you try to play the wrong part, filling the role someone else would play if you stepped back?

Taking the analogy one step further: we each use our individual gifts to strengthen the whole body, like exercise. When we stretch and strengthen each muscle, the whole gets stronger and more effective. When you strengthen your serve muscle, it affects my motivation to strengthen my serve muscle, and together we grow stronger.

We have work to do.

We have different gifts for different purposes, but as a whole the Body of Christ has one mission: to love God and others so that others know they are loved by God, too. Love may sound simple yet we know that love can be complicated, messy. We exercise our gifts to build each other up for the hard work of love.

Shortly before He was betrayed Jesus told His followers: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

We use our gifts to love one another and to get better at loving one another so that our love shines good news into a dark world.

Siv’s Spiritual Gifts Story:

I’ve been involved in church my entire life. If a church service or activity had been planned for my age/stage, I was there. I said an enthusiastic YES anytime a church leader requested anything of me, even when it made me uncomfortable; door-to-door evangelism will never be my sweet spot, and trial-and-error is also an effective teacher.

I volunteered for every available leadership role, attended a Christian college, and almost before I knew it, I was working at a church and enrolled in seminary. (Read more about Siv’s ministry experience here, particularly as a woman in professional ministry).

I first took a spiritual gifts assessment in my 20s. My primary gift? Prophecy. I instantly saw a neon Moses in the wilderness, flashing staff pointing the way.

My conversation with God went like this: Uh, no thanks? Aren’t prophets a) men, b) that no one likes, c) who speak words no one wants to hear? I’m a woman who likes to be liked. I want my words to matter. I want us all to be at peace, and I’m super-uncomfortable being the bearer of bad news.

Getting comfortable starts with being uncomfortable.

Still, my friends confirmed my ability to listen and speak God’s truth. Yay? I asked an older respected man why God would give the gift of prophecy to an introvert who prefers to let others speak. He replied, “Precisely because you’re an introvert who thinks before she speaks. Extroverts blurt out every nonsensical thought that races through their mind. Introverts work through the words first.”

My other gifts include exhortation and teaching, both of which sit more comfortably. I love to offer encouragement, and I enjoy opportunities to teach people how to follow God with their whole heart.

When you look at the three side-by-side, the picture becomes clearer: prophecy, exhortation, and teaching all require that I listen to God first and follow through by speaking truth to others. These gifts work in tandem, and they’re good gifts for someone who often writes about Christian faith and practice.

My gut reaction wasn’t unfounded, though: it’s been much easier to use my exhortation and teaching gifts than prophecy. People appreciate encouragement, and many like to hear (or read) thoughtful lessons.

God used prophecy to propel me into ministry leadership where I had a behind-the-curtain peek at decision-making, if not always a voice at the table.

My voice, perhaps in particular because I am a strong woman, was not always welcome … even when I knew with every fiber of my being that God had asked me to speak.

Like I said, love is hard work. We show up for God, for ourselves, and for one another because God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to live and die and live again to show us the way back to God.

Because God is love. Because God loves us, we love. Because we love, we use our gifts.

Siv Ricketts writes to encourage you to have hope, seek beauty, and live joyfully. She has recently been published in The Joyful Life Magazine and in Fathom Mag. A graduate of Westmont College and Fuller Theological Seminary, she has focused her career working in and writing for the Church. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two sons, and their menagerie of pets. You can find her on her blog and on Instagram.

That Guy

“Let’s go blow off some steam.”

I looked up, bleary-eyed from pouring over a multitude of tracing paper sketches, scattered sets of plans and study diagrams that I had been hammering away at for hours. I blinked at my college boyfriend standing at the edge of my studio desk piled high with the makings of a hustling architecture student.

“That sounds fantastic…” I sighed, still half-expecting myself to change my mind and continue a dogged pursuit of cranking out 100 more plans late into the night.

I felt a reassuring side-hug around my shoulders.

“C’mon. Get your mind out of here for a little bit. Burgers and beer?”

I was a third year architecture student with the typical messy studio space, messy apartment, and a messy ponytail. But a cute guy offering a short escape that involved cheap burgers and beer was enough to entice me away from my organized chaos.

On our way to the sports bar, I was given the low-down:

“I invited some friends to join us who I want you to meet.”

The relationship was fairly new, so I perked up a bit. “Oh really?”

“Yes ma’am. They’re good guys. You’ll love ’em.”

Heads up or warning shot?

As we trumbled down the street in a faded tan late model Dodge pickup, I realized how famished I was. Plus a triple-treat: taking a break from studio, an offering of greasy sustinence, and meeting his friends? Gold stars in my book.

“But I hafta give you a head’s up.”

“Oh?” I cocked my right eyebrow in his direction, a long-established trait that runs deep in my family tree, successfully passed down through a legion of generations and – not-so-affectionately – known as the ‘Rowntree Brow.’

“This oughta be good,” I smirked.

“You’ll love him. He’s a good guy. But… he just got out of prison.”

I have always maintained giving new people I meet a clean slate. Not to judge a person’s character for past mistakes or circulating rumors. Take ’em as they are, straight up.

My interest was peaked, yet the ‘Rowntree Brow‘ cautiously sought out the rest of the story. And he picked up on it.

“It was for stealing cars. In Austin. His name is Dave. He’s in town trying to get back on his feet again.”

I admit a sigh of relief came out a little heartier than I expected.

“All right, not a problem,” I uttered, honestly relieved it wasn’t a heavier charge.

Soon after the pickup lurched into a parking spot close to the entrance, my concerns dissapated as the sights and delightful smells of the college hangout grabbed my grumbling stomach’s attention.

Keep manners in line, keep wits at the ready.

We walked into the bar, oversized speakers belting out a string of classic rock’s grainy anti-establishment ballads. We sat on the primitive benches that lined the restaurant, watching several frat guys taking bets on which one would win the next round of Golden Tee.

“Here they are!” my boyfriend exclaimed, waving his half-consumed pint of beer in the air to signal his buddies over to our rustic landmark.

I looked up to see four guys traipsing through the entrance in a single file line. I smiled expectantly, brushing away any stray crumbs that may have gone rogue on my faded university t-shirt.

And then I gridlocked.

I surprised myself in my reaction as the fourth guy swaggered through the door. Striped polo shirt tucked in his jeans, leather belt, sporting some intensely hi-lighted curtain bangs. But it wasn’t his look that halted me.

The familiar sharp pang in my stomach and tingly scalp, combined with a moderately-overwhelming wave of dread took over. Before he even made it over to our spot, I knew that guy was Dave.

And I could sense he was not a well-meaning individual.

“Nice to meet you – I’ve heard so much about you!” Dave said a little too eagerly for my taste. His strong cologne wafted over the table. An overly-firm handshake. A smile that some would label ‘dazzling.’ I could feel my skin crawl and my soul tighten.

The ‘Brow’ prickled over my right eye, but I kept my manners – and wits – about me.

I forced a fake smile and am pretty sure that I said, “Nice to meet you too.”

Pretty sure.

What every female swoons to hear.

The beer-infused evening continued as the Golden Tee roared in the corner. I attempted to enjoy my savory burger and joked half-heartedly with the guys.

After a pint or two, the pangs in my gut slightly subsided, but never fully disappeared for the rest of our time at the bar.

Once the tab was paid and we paraded out to our vehicles, my twisted insides fluttered away, a sense of relief washed over my soul.

“So what did you think of the guys?”

I slid into the tan Dodge, looking over to meet a pair of beaming brown eyes.

“Seemed nice.”

“That’s it?”

“Well… yes. Except for that Dave guy.”

“What do you mean?” I could feel the warm gaze from my boyfriend start to wane.

“I don’t know. Something’s not right with him. A bit creepy. I feel like he’s got something up his sleeve. I’d keep an eye on him.”

“You think so?” he quizzed.

I wish I could describe the next few moments had played out smoothly with an understanding conversation laden with genuine concern. Instead it spiraled into a grilling barrage of questions barbed with, “You’re over-reacting… being judgmental… absolutely ridiculous… totally unfair

All the lovliest of adjectives a female swoooooons to hear.

The rest of the ride ended with my hastened exit from his truck, teeth gritted with teary-eyed frustration.

Why couldn’t he see the diabolic look behind Dave’s eyes? Why did he completely dismiss my ominous warning? And what was with the accusatory questioning?

Ignoring red flags.

Several weeks passed after the Dave incident, only to usher in another unwelcomed chapter of regret. This time not for me.

Dave and the boyfriend had embarked upon establishing a lawn business to ‘help Dave’ out. And it started off generating some hefty extra income for both of them. It quickly faded.

After a series of Dave’s no-shows, they had one last falling out which resulted in a good old-fashioned felony. Dave had broken into the boyfriend’s garage, stealing all of his lawn equipment, tools, and whatever wasn’t nailed to the concrete floor, leaving him in a wake of twisted rage and bitterness.

It was not the appropriate moment to utter, “I told you so…” even though I was thinking it very loudly.

I would not fully comprehend for another decade this recurring and daunting apprehension that would creep up on me unannounced in the presence of someone with bad intentions. I realize today that this was only the tip of the iceberg.

Oh, and the boyfriend? Somehow it didn’t work out.

I still reflect back on that awkward evening meeting that guy. Emotions that I could not identify nor come to grip with rattled my heart for years.

I unashamedly hang onto that encounter. Not as a bad memory – more of a life lesson. But the words were out there. And so are a lot of those guys.

Judgmental? It may have appeared this way at first.

Ridiculous? Hardly.

Overreacting? Hell no.

I choose the word ‘discerning.’

With a side of ‘Rowntree Brow.’

Pretty Little Gifts

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A merciful heart for all people.  Would give you the shirt off her back.  Capable leader.  Encouraging to others with an aura of peaceful acceptance.  Wise and patient teacher.  Meek and soft-spoken woman of God.


Skeptical.  Brazen.  A little too honest.  Calls individuals out on their wrongs.  Rude.  Blunt.  And permanently stamped by our society with the all-time, most misunderstood and infamous label – judgmental.

Argh. Yep.

The first time I heard about spiritual gifts when I was about twenty-six.  I had only been a Christian for about 4 years and was chomping at the bit to figure out what my spiritual gifts were. 

Aside from brown eyes, a love for all things ornithological, and a passion for crocheting, to think that God personally blessed me with a spiritual gift since birth was exhilarating. My one true calling was to be laced with a special gift to enhance my walk to glorify Jesus!

And then I took the test.

Discernment. With a small side of Craftsmanship and a spoonful of Faith.  I was puzzled.  Frustration set in.

And where was my “pretty” spiritual gift?

My waitressing days in college had prepared me to serve others hospitably with everything from enchiladas to spilt iced tea. Leading a small group of ladies or dogs was not a problem, and I received affirmation from others that I was capable. Giving gifts is my love language, hands down!

As my spiritual gift was unfolding in front of me, a wave of overwhelming dread mixed with fear swept over me with incredible force once I started researching a textbook description of spiritual discernment:

  • Distinguishing between spirits
  • Recognizing the motive behind circumstances
  • Immediately “knowing” whether a person’s true intention is good or bad

My fervor for sharing and growing this gift waned quickly, resulting in spiritually running the other direction, chasing what I thought to be more pleasing, socially admired gifts.  This lasted for fourteen years.

Right after I turned forty, I attended a women’s worship night at my church.  I sang, I praised, I laughed.  A lady who I held in high regard in our church who was leading the women’s worship night gently picked up the microphone and sweetly described the night’s subject we were about to discuss.

Spiritual Gifts.

My head irked.  I felt my eye twitch.  I thought surely my gift had changed because I had changed, knowing that I was not the same person I was the first time I took this test, so let’s go… but my gut was nagging me.

Fifteen minutes later, I sat and stared at the results of the “new” test, whose black and white words echoed a very familiar black and white answer.

Discernment again. 

Something told me I was not going to outrun my circumstances this time.

I couldn’t help feel a tiny wave of green-tinted disappointment wash over me as I quietly questioned, “Are you sure, Lord… Hospitality, Giving, Mercy… those all sound much nicer.”

I enjoyed discussing spiritual gifts with all kinds of people, and learning about the *sparkly* gifts that had not been in God’s design for me.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the feeling as if I were walking along a dry desert of inequity.

My focus broke as one of my friends beamed at her results, “Oh, WOW – I got Compassion!”  And it fits her.  She’s blonde, sweet, beautiful and always smiling.  Always.

Another lady across the room beamed, “I love this, it was spot ON.  Serving others is such a passion of mine!”  Okay, I don’t even know you, but can you get a sister a diet coke?  I’m negotiating with God over here.

But the hits kept fluttering around the room, ladies giggling and glowing excitedly at the “pretty” spiritual gifts their test results had revealed. 

To top it off, another friend of mine looked over my shoulder, smirked and said rather flatly, “Well look what you got.  Totally fits.”  She got Encouragement.  Interesting.

Before I could finish uttering a response, the merciful leader lady reached for the microphone again and flowed into a melodic series of instructions for each of us to divide into groups, according to our spiritual gift.  I stood up, grabbed my purse and moseyed over to my designated side of the sanctuary.

The “D-List” corner.

As I was finding my way amongst the Mercy girls, the Leadership ladies, and the gracious Givers, I cringed at the fact that I might be one of the lowly few women with the same, odd-girl-out gift.

I found a chair and settled into my station.  Another lady sat down.  And then a few more until there were about forty of us.  All different ages, different backgrounds and hair color.  My heart secretly lept – I was not alone!  For years, I thought I was isolated in every church I ever attended.  With this gift:  my spiritual discernment gift.

Before long the “D-Listers” were comparing stories:

  • Consistently described as blunt
  • Accused of being skeptical and rude
  • Unwavering distrust of certain individuals within seconds of meeting them
  • Carried a heightened sense of knowing when danger or foreboding evil was present
  • The first to sniff out a fake

God never makes mistakes.  I struggled for too many years with the notion that I was burdened with a spiritual gift that scared and intimidated me.  It also fascinated me and proved time and time again it saved my neck or someone else’s throughout my life. 

I didn’t think it was a pretty, more desirable gift.  Far from it.  It is a vital gift.  As is everyone’s gift.

Discerners are part of the church, the body of Christ, working alongside those whose blessed with Healing, Prophesy, Exhortation, together for the good of His kingdom.

A watchdog for false teachers and doctrine.

A blunt and skeptical watchdog.

I sipped my Diet Coke and smiled. I had a lot of work to do.

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First Timer

Children’s intuition.

Gut instinct.


The first time I had ever experienced what most would consider intuition was about the age of 7. My parents had informed my younger brother and me that we were expecting a special guest to stay the weekend at our house. One of my father’s mentors in college or his career.

My brother and I were good kids with an particular flair for pushing each other’s buttons, as siblings typically do – I scared him with ghost stories and would jump out from behind furniture to give him a fright. He chased me around the house with an E.T. finger and the more ghoulish-looking He-Man figures.

My mother had given us the head’s up about the visitor and that we were to be on our best behavior. Not a problem.

Suspicious individuals don’t always wear black.

Just before dinner, the doorbell rang. My brother and I fluttered behind our parents into the foyer, ready to politely greet our guest and introduce ourselves.

My father opened the door and welcomed the gentleman inside. He was an older man in his late 70’s, early 80’s, dressed in khaki pants and a white and blue striped button down shirt. Holding what appeared to be a suitcase in hand, the elderly man graciously stepped inside our home.

He politely greeted my mother, commenting on how lovely the house was, then turned to my brother and me, smiling kindly to introduce himself.

My little brother toddled up to the gentlemen calling him, “Paw-Paw,” since he resembled my grandfather with a full head of white hair and friendly smile.

For me, however, this was the first time I can recall where I could not figure out why I did not like an adult.

I was smiling, behaving kindly as my mother had taught me to do. But the top of my head tingled. My stomach hurt. I had no idea why this awful feeling was in my gut.

I swallowed hard and ignored it as my parents ushered the man into our home. My father gave him the tour of the house while my brother and I headed to the kitchen with my mother to prepare for our guest.

Mind your manners and set the table.

“I don’t like him,” I whispered to my mother as I clinked the silverware down on our large oak dining table.

“Shhh. He’s one of your father’s mentors and he’s a nice man. It will be ok,” she encouraged me. “Don’t forget the napkins.”

I don’t remember the dinner. In fact, I don’t remember much more until right before bedtime.

My brother and I had washed up, put our pajamas on, and came back downstairs to say goodnight to everyone before traipsing off to bed.

As my right foot stepped onto the tile in the foyer, I halted as I spied the elderly man again standing next to my parents, talking. My little brother not pausing from toddling down the stairs bumped into me and we stumbled into the room, looking up to meet the steady, comical gaze from the adults.

“Daddy, I don’t like him.” This time I said it more boldly.

The horrific look that spread upon my mother’s face could have stopped a freight train. In that instant I knew I was probably going to face a stern reprimanding before bedtime.

Tears did not sting my eyes. My eyes were locked on the elderly man, almost daring him to make a move. I knew better than to disobey my parents. I knew better than to talk rudely in front of an adult, especially a grandfatherly adult.

“It’s ok honey,” my father said kindly and started walking towards me to give me a reassuring side hug.

“No,” the strange man said carefully. “I think it is best if I stay at a motel.”


He disappeared to fetch his suitcase from the guest bedroom. My mother escorted us upstairs as I felt the heat from her disappointment blaze across the back of my neck.

Peace as a safety zone.

I don’t remember any lectures, fussing or correction as she tucked me into bed. All I remember was relief. So much relief that I could slip off to sleep without worry. Without trouble. Without fear.

My stomach did not hurt anymore. No more tingling. Peace had returned to our home.

Since that day, I have asked my parents exactly who was the man that came to visit. From my father’s recollection, the man was a prominant salesman starting a new business venture, and he was there to persuade my parents into becoming a part of it.

They did not remember him being intimidating, smarmy, or pushy. To this day, I do not know why I did not like him being in our house. I will probably never know exactly what it was about him that upset me.

But this was the first instance where I definitively felt in my whole little being that some people are not as pleasant, good or honest as they presented themselves to truly be.

This important lesson has come back time and time again when people or situations were more devious than what appeared on the surface.

Oh, College Boyfriends

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First impressions.


One of my closest friends, Lauren, had fallen fast and hard for a 30-year-old ex-Marine who, from all of her accounts, was quite the heartthrob. For a 21-year-old college girl to be seriously and exclusively dating a 30-something-year-old man was a real enigma for me at the time, so I had fairly high expectations of her new man.

As I was un-ceremoniously putting away dishes in my tiny college apartment, Lauren rapped her familiar knock on my front door. I swung the creaky 1970’s-era door open to find Lauren standing there with her new boyfriend, Brandon.

She was leaning back heavily into his chest, wearing his favorite hockey team jersey which swallowed her tiny frame. Her dizzy, spellbound smile was undeniable – that smile girls get in their early twenties when they have fallen in love.

I knew it was serious.

Devil in the buttoned-down details.

Brandon was definitely a handsome guy. He stood about 5′-11″ with baby blue eyes, cropped sandy blonde hair, neatly dressed in a striped shirt tucked into his pressed jeans, proudly exhibiting a pearly-white smile.

My heart panged as that all-too-familiar murky foreboding slithered its way into my gut.

Why now? Smiling with borderline nausea, I knew something wasn’t right.

I used to take first impressions with a grain of salt. My heart has always had a tendency to give new people the benefit of the doubt when first meeting them. But for Brandon, I couldn’t push the sickening gnaw away from my stomach.

I smiled and politely invited them both into my home while keeping my eye on this new fellow, watching his mannerisms, his swagger, and the creepy way he held onto Lauren. I felt my skin crawl as I was sizing him up.

Once they left, I stood in the entryway stifling my nausea. After a few what-the-hell moments, I purposefully distracted myself with menial tasks to try to alleviate the heaviness that hung in my apartment.

Grand gestures or red flags?

Brandon was definitely a charmer. He dazzled Lauren with expensive dates, entertained all of our friends in his large 2-story home, showcased his extensive collection of liquors and oversized entertainment system, and boasted about his luxurious furnishings.

All these accouterments certainly impressed our circle of struggling college friends. But not me.

Before long, Lauren was sporting a massive engagement ring. My young heart did not have the guts to tell my sweet friend how I truly felt about Brandon. And I hated myself for it.

On the night of her engagement party, I worked up the nerve to pull Lauren aside and ask her pointedly, “Are you sure he’s the one?”

“Of course!” she exclaimed without hesitation.

That was enough for me. On the surface.

I still couldn’t ignore the permanent disdain which seemed to take over my whole being, wondering what was wrong with me. Moreover, why couldn’t Lauren perceive these things?

The wedding took place in October, only months before we graduated from college. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t wait until after our thesis year was completed – especially since I had witnessed more than a handful of love-struck girls get married while still in school, only to fail a class or two and being forced to reckon with another year of college.

But Lauren was a bright girl and graduated on time with high marks and a steller GPA.

Distance can make the heart grow remorseful.

After graduation I had moved out of state, far away from my beloved college town. Before a time when social media kept us all connected, I had lost touch with Lauren. Fortunately we have that kind of friendship that immediately picked right back up where we left off, regardless of time or distance.

I eventually moved back to my college town and got the long-overdue chance to have lunch with Lauren.

It was evident that something was off. Her effervescent personality was gone. Her voice was quiet and resonated with oppression.

We had barely sat down in one of the cushy red pleather booths when she plainly divulged, “I’m divorcing Brandon.”

I almost dropped my tamale. “Why? What happened?” I nervously questioned. My stomach took a turn.

Lauren spilled her guts about her distant husband who was never home. Alcoholism had entered the picture on his behalf. Unpaid taxes had put an additional strain on the marriage and left Lauren facing serious financial troubles with threatening calls about garnishing her wages.

Not to mention the infidelity.

Looking back but not backing down.

After she finished, I couldn’t hold the truth in anymore. “I messed up.”

Lauren blinked at me, “What are you talking about? How?”

Between gasps I uttered, “That very first day I met him with you in my doorway, I knew. I had an awful feeling and just knew was a bad guy.”

I felt the bile in my stomach churning in full force but continued, “I pushed it away, knowing you were in love with Brandon and felt you knew him better than I did… and I said… nothing.”

Lauren chuckled a bit. She had obviously had more time to digest the emotional weight of the situation than I had. She calmly smiled, “Emily, I would not have listened to you even if you did say something.”


“Yes, really. It was probably better that way because it would have had a negative consequence on our friendship. Don’t worry. There were red flags everywhere and I chose to ignore them.”

I sighed heavily in bewilderment, as if some titanic burden had suddenly slid off my shoulders. Straight into the trash.

Donning a new suit of armor.

Whether she ignored them or not, I secretly swore to myself that I would never let another deceitful person run roughshod over my precious friends without recognizing them – and pointing them out – for who they really are.

Since then, Lauren returned to her former vivacious self and has blossomed into an incredible woman.

Has that sick feeling ever returned the moment I have met other friends’ boyfriends? Of course.

Did I hold back my instincts? No.

Did I lose some friends? I have.

Another testament to the fact that I could not ignore my gut instincts about an individual’s motives. I knew it wasn’t a fluke. But at the time, I didn’t know how to label or identify it. And it wasn’t the last time it would happen.

Dear Lord, you have tasked us Discerners with walking one truly scary tightrope. But it is a strong tightrope that we will walk across without hesitation when necessary.

Discerners, do not push those God-gifted, sham-spotting nudges away.

Fakery comes in all forms.

Except tamales.

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