Discernment vs. Indifference: Understanding Your Heart in Relationships

Hello Friends,

As the summer months unfold, I find myself reflecting on the beauty and freedom this season brings. There’s a special joy in watching my grandchildren celebrate the end of the school year, their laughter and excitement filling the air with a sense of unbridled possibility. This sense of freedom, the ability to simply ‘be,’ is something I long for each of us to experience in our walk with God. I pray that amidst the busyness and challenges of life, you feel His care enveloping you, allowing your soul to rest in His love and grace.

Today’s Question:

After many years of relationship struggles, I’m challenged to recognize whether I am being discerning or indifferent. I believe it’s more indifference. Even when a bit of transformation seems to be happening in him, I am unsure how to process this as I want to honor God with my thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors. Ugh!!! What’s happening in my heart just “feels” exhausting. Thank you.

LeAnne’s Response:

Thank you for reaching out and sharing your heart with us. Your struggles and questions resonate deeply, and many women in our community share similar experiences. It's clear that you are seeking God's guidance in a very challenging situation. Let’s explore your feelings together and find ways to define, and navigate them with grace, dignity, and wisdom.

Understanding Indifference, Detachment, and Discernment

Oftentimes we can get overwhelmed trying to understand relationship dynamics. It’s perfectly understandable that we would. Many of us did not have healthy role models to learn from. That doesn't mean that we cannot learn. I am honored by your vulnerability and your questions. Your desire to gain clarity and ask for help is brave and courageous. Let’s take a moment and define some terms together. 

Indifference:

Indifference means not caring about the other person. It involves a lack of investment or concern for their needs, feelings, or well-being. Indifference is emotionally detaching to the point where you feel nothing towards the other person. Since God calls us to love, indifference is not okay. 1 John 4:7-8 reminds us, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Detachment:

Detachment, however, can be a necessary and healthy step. It’s not about not caring; it’s about not needing the other person to validate you in order to feel okay. Detachment allows you to maintain your emotional health and well-being without relying on the other person’s approval or affirmation. It’s a healthy boundary that helps you love and care without becoming dependent. Proverbs 4:23 advises, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Discernment:

Discernment involves actively seeking God’s wisdom to determine whether a person is trustworthy or safe. Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Discernment is about making wise decisions based on God’s guidance, ensuring that your relationships are healthy, and honoring to Him.

Processing Transformation and Your Feelings

Even if my partner is showing signs of transformation, why do I still feel indifferent?

True transformation takes time, and rebuilding trust is a gradual process. Galatians 6:9 reminds us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It’s natural to feel skeptical after being hurt, even when you see positive changes.

What’s Really Going On:

  1. Past Hurts and Betrayals: Emotional wounds from past experiences can create protective barriers, making it difficult to trust again.
  2. Emotional Exhaustion: Ongoing relationship struggles can lead to emotional fatigue, making it hard to feel invested.

Practical Step to Navigate Your Emotions

Reflect and Pray: Take time each day to reflect on your feelings and pray for clarity. Seek God’s guidance to understand your emotions and discern whether they stem from indifference or necessary emotional boundaries.

Your desire to honor God in every aspect of your life is contagious. Philippians 4:6-7 offers comfort: “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Feeling exhausted from relationship struggles is a common experience. Matthew 11:28 reminds us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” It’s essential to take care of your emotional and spiritual well-being.

What’s Really Going On:

  1. Constant Vigilance: Trying to discern your partner’s intentions can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
  2. Internal Conflict: The struggle between hope for change and fear of being hurt again can drain your energy.

Self-Care Practices: Establish a routine that includes activities that rejuvenate you—exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient rest. Engage in activities that nourish your spirit, such as worship, reading inspiring Christian books, or spending time in nature.

Remember, you are not alone. Many of us walk this path, and together, we can support and encourage each other to seek God's will and find peace in His presence. That is where the joy is. Take heart in knowing that God is with you, guiding you, and providing the strength you need. Praying for discernment for all of us!

Fellow travelers, what activities do you engage in that nourish your mind and spirit?

18 Comments

  1. Sharon Parsons on June 13, 2024 at 8:16 am

    This is exactly where I’m at. Such timely, Godly advice. Thank you! 🥰

    • LeAnne Parsons on June 24, 2024 at 5:06 pm

      So grateful you found this encouraging:) thanks for joining us here.

  2. Rebekah Avey on June 13, 2024 at 8:42 am

    I just love the LORD’S. timing! This question resonates within me and I was really struggling with it. I feel more at peace now. Thank you!
    I am praying for anyone reading this post that God will lead you in truth on your healing journey. Know that you are not alone.

    • Yoli on June 13, 2024 at 11:19 am

      Thank you for this beautifully written filled with wisdom & care message.
      I’m in a similar place in my life as well. This is so helpful.

  3. Holly C on June 13, 2024 at 9:07 am

    So happy to find this question and response. Find myself in this exact place a lot! God knows exactly what our struggles and challenges are and lead me to read this. Thank you for highlighting these and giving some specific actions to help navigate through it.

  4. Jeannie T on June 13, 2024 at 9:09 am

    Gosh what a great question she had and I couldn’t wait to read your response bc I too struggle with this! Thank you for posting this!

  5. Rachel on June 13, 2024 at 9:18 am

    So very helpful LeAnne! This resonates with me and exactly where I am in my walk. Thank you!!!

  6. Diane on June 13, 2024 at 9:20 am

    This resonates with me so much and gives me some very good next steps. I’m so exhausted trying to figure this out and I need to remember to lean into God and his wisdom. God is so good and gives us just what we need, I really needed to hear this today. Thank you!🙏

    • Jane on June 13, 2024 at 7:20 pm

      Thank you, LeAnne. This has helped me to understand that I am indeed “feeling exhausted from relationship struggles.”. and why I instinctively knew I must focus on the activities that help me thrive. I see more clearly what has happened and also why I need rest and time for growth, including setting boundaries for my well-being.

  7. Denise Smoky Mountains on June 13, 2024 at 9:26 am

    Going for a brisk walk with my dog and listening to encouraging worship music.

  8. Sharon on June 13, 2024 at 9:54 am

    It was a blessing to read this. I, too, struggle with this!

  9. Debbie Hodge on June 13, 2024 at 10:02 am

    Seems like every question asked is just what I am struggling with. Thank you so much

  10. Shannon on June 13, 2024 at 11:58 am

    Thank you for the question and answer, it was a timely and helpful read. God always sends help when I am struggling in a particular area.

  11. Shannon on June 13, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    I’m saving this and rereading this over and over.

    I find myself struggling with this myself.

  12. LeAnne Parsons on June 13, 2024 at 2:17 pm

    Precious Sisters!
    Thank you all for your heartfelt responses and your kind words of gratitude. It warms my heart to know that this blog is a source of encouragement and support for you. Your individual journey is one of courage and strength, and I am honored to walk alongside you.

    It’s important to remember that seeking God’s wisdom and setting healthy boundaries are acts of self-love and care. You are valued, loved, and deserving of relationships that honor and uplift you. In moments of doubt or exhaustion, lean into God’s promises and the support of our community.

    I invite you to continue engaging with us, sharing your experiences, and lifting each other up in prayer and love. Together, we can create a space where we feel safe, understood, and empowered to live as God intended.

    May God bless you and fill you with His peace and strength.

    Coach LeAnne

    • Charlene Hightower on June 14, 2024 at 11:27 am

      When I read the difference between “Detachment and Indifference”, it really hit me right between the eyes.

      I am not indifferent because I care. I care what happens to my husband, but I am no longer willing to be treated with indifference, contempt, gaslighting, etc. I truly want things to be better between us, but I can only control myself and my actions.

      I have been so very thankful for Leslie and all of the Coaches!! You all have pointed each of us to the Lord at every turn, every piece of advice is thoughtful, thought provoking and encourages us to seek the Lord and His wisdom. I feel very blessed to have found this group of women.

      May our Lord and Savior bless each of you!
      Charlene

  13. lynette Thomas on June 13, 2024 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you LeAnne,
    This very much resonates with me too.
    Thank you also for sharing the strategies for self care and reminding us the importance of guarding our hearts and prayer for discernment.
    I have some very challenging circumstances at the moment on several fronts so prayer and discernment are crucial.
    Please pray I hear God and receive His wisdom and also wise counsel in all my decision making. We are facing some big financial issues at the moment on top of the relational ones.
    Thanks and Blessings,
    Lynette.

  14. Stephanie on June 17, 2024 at 4:03 pm

    Thank you for this post. God just answered my prayer as I have been moving through the healing process of the cycle of emotional abuse that is part of being married to a man with covert narcissistic personality disorder. This describes exactly what I have been experiencing, wanting to stay in the marriage but not wanting to become emotionally hurt or unhealthy in the process. In my self protection I was walking in unforgiveness and making myself miserable in the process. So every time an old thought would cross my mind I would picture myself wiping the slate clean. But more than forgiveness is needed when your soul has been wounded. The healthy detachment that you have described is imperative. Living in indifference only hurts ourself becauseas a loving person it hurts not to be able to give love.

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