Gabriel turns Two: Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Instinct and Intuition

Some experts (and non-experts) say "follow your intuition." Then other folks assert that the key to abundant life is live counter-intuitively, in an upside-down kingdom sort of way. It hit me the other day that the apparent contradiction is simply a language issue.

At least for me and my personal experience, there's instinct, and then there's intuition. Sometimes the two agree, other times not, but they are separate functions, each with its own purpose. Instinct is concerned with survival at all costs; intuition is concerned with living in harmony with oneself and God, navigating the realm of life and relationships with truth and grace. Intuition ultimately transcending both intellect and instinct.

Instinct might tell you to have sex with anyone flaunting great jeans (and genes,) but intuition will tell you more about a person's character than the information of the eyes or pure reason or plain instinct. Intuition tells the truth, serves love and understands the big picture without always articulating the individual pieces. We know, but we don't know how we know.

Instinct might tell you to run from a difficult person or challenge; intuition may tell you to listen closely for the gift or lesson God's Universe is offering.

Instinct may tell you to defend yourself in an argument; intuition may tell you the safest place for you and the other beloved being is humility and compassion in the face of an attack.

Because instinct guards the physical body and the ego, but intuition guides the soul.

I've been seeing this dynamic in my parenting lately. My daughter does something irksome and unattractive and my instinct is repulsion, anger, disappointment; My intuition is learning to read deeper... to grasp the tenuous, beautiful space where teaching and love are the tools of good discipline, where the child is understood and admired in her search for autonomy, her gutsy testing of a parent's love, her strong, beautiful spirit, and the sweetness that lies tucked between her spunky need to assert herself and her intense fear of losing my love to an apple-faced baby sibling or two.

Life is an adventure, and adventures are not boring or easy or simple. Adventures involve challenges, heroism, ingenuity. Adventures call people out to become Someone beyond Joe or Jill; someone who is the heroin inside each of us, with all our vulnerabilities and quirks. Adventure brings the opportunity for quirky grace.

And so far, parenting is by far, my most exciting, unknown, terrifying, impossible, impossibly amazing and not-simple or easy but deeply wonderful, beauteous adventure of my life. Day by day my choices matter; I can be the villain or the heroin and sometimes both within five minutes. And everyday I learn that self-discipline is really the excersize of intuition challenging instinct, guided by Love.


Erin (a.k.a. Lily) said...

Jemila - RE: your comment about Porpoise Diving Life submissions.

You can use either of these:
erinword at gmail dot com
eword at comcast dot net

where you replace the 'at' with @ and 'dot' with .

Thanks, I look forward to reading it!

Amy said...

Jemila, you put this beautifully.

"Day by day my choices matter; I can be the villain or the heroin and sometimes both within five minutes."

Ahhh, the challenge of loving and living and of parenthood. You've challenged me to be more intentional in my choices and aim for heroine (with God's help) rather than the villian.

Jemila Monroe said...

Yes, Amy, the key word is CHALLENGE ;) It's such a joy those moments of triumph though, where you actually connect and can see the look in your child's eyes that says you've come through for her/him and helped her/him to feel good on the inside and shine it on the outside. How's it going being an advocate for your son?

Amy said...

Yes, those moments are amazing and so fulfilling.

I stink as an advocate! I'm so fearful of what all this means that I allow my fear to respond rather than to surround him in compassion and grace.

But, we're working on it together. He's an amazingly loving and compassionate child. He teaches me a lot.