Be Transformed by the Renewal of Your Mind

‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ (Romans 12:2)

‘Farmhouse’ (photo: Helen Hotson / Shutterstock)

It was in 1985 that my husband Mike and I went house-hunting in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. 

The first house we looked at was an 18th-century stone farmhouse with hand-hewn beams and vintage folk art on its cellar walls. It was a fixer-upper whose endearing flaws included a hole in the second floor that afforded a view of the kitchen. But the hole was small — more like a chink, really — and anyway, the house was so indisputably charming that I supposed Mike would happily sign on the dotted line, then go about making home repairs with a song in his heart and a smile on his lips. 

Maybe he would have, if later that day our real estate agent hadn’t shown us a house that was “perfect for a couple just starting out.” The house was a 1962 brick ranch home that had kitchen countertops patterned with pink-and-gray boomerangs. “Perfect” was not my first choice of adjective.

We had entered the ranch house and made it only as far as the kitchen before Mike turned to me and beamed. 

“This is it, hon,” he said. 

‘No, no, this isn’t it!’ I thought. I just couldn’t imagine a “happily ever after” in close proximity to pink-and-gray boomerangs.

But Mike was as adamant as I was disappointed. Driving back home to our Bronx apartment, I asked him how he knew that the dated ranch house was “it.”

He shrugged the shoulders that were about to carry a major mortgage. “I don’t know, hon. Gut feeling, I guess.”

Now, gut feeling is something that I rarely experience, and rightly so. Instead, I’ve got intuition, a unique sensitivity that’s part of what Pope St. John Paul II called “the feminine genius.”

Intuition is what notifies us of Mother’s surprise visit in time to move Mother’s Christmas gift of a color-changing fiber optic swan out of the bowels of the closet and onto the mantel. It nags us to check on Junior even when there’s no reason to suspect that he’s out of bed and stuffing cotton swabs into the floor register. It whispers to us that during the seventh-inning stretch is not the time to tell Dear Husband about the leach in the septic system.

Gut feeling is the masculine counterpart to feminine intuition. It’s the compelling force that enables men to make life-altering decisions between the kick-off and the first down. Gut feeling is feminine intuition with a testosterone boost.

Even though my husband is by nature a very logical guy, his home-buying decision had less to do with rational analysis and more to do with a gut feeling of certitude. Scripture contains similar examples: Andrew and James walking away from their work to follow Jesus, the Magi changing course on their journey, Peter dropping his net for a catch in waters that seemed bereft of fish.

These men, having a limited amount of information on which to base their actions, based them largely on their feelings. This is not a bad thing, as our emotions are a gift from God intended to help with discernment. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1763) tells us, “Feelings or passions are emotions … that incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil.” As Christians attuned to the Holy Spirit and striving for wisdom and virtue, we ought naturally to be making prudent decisions that are in keeping with God’s will.

What about the ranch house? Well, it’s been our home for the past 38 years. I honestly believe that Mike’s long-ago gut feeling was the voice of the Holy Spirit, saying something like, “Hey, you there! Buy that house! And you better put a fence around the backyard, because you’re going to have a lot of kids running around the place!

That’s exactly what happened, fence, kids, and all. The kids are now grown and gone, and the fence gate routinely left unlatched. But although the wonderful days of merry household chaos are behind me, I believe that the future holds unimagined blessings. 

Call it a gut feeling.