An examen is a prayerful review of the day that focuses your attention on the movements of God in your life. By reflecting on the events of the last several hours, you can look for moments where you felt more alive and connected to God and others. You’ll also notice the events that caused you to withdraw or experience anxiety, restlessness, or frustration. Practiced daily, they help you notice patterns that may confirm and clarify your vocational calling.
In this season of your life, you’re wrestling with many questions as you navigate the various options for your vocation. In the following seven examens, you will be guided on a journey of deep, inner awareness to notice God’s love for you, the movements of your own heart, the things that affect you negatively, your connection to others in community, the ways you give the best part of who you are, what is important to you, and what you want to be about. We pray that these exercises might establish some foundational practices that can aid you in discerning and noticing God’s movement in your life, to begin to create a framework for healthy discernment upon which a larger discernment process can rest.
Noticing The Things That Affect Me Negatively
Inner Movements: What draws me away from God & others? By Heather Kristine, Inglewood, CA
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
In the same way that pain is my body’s way of telling me that something is wrong
my body, the negative emotions within my heart and mind can also be excellent teachers. Instead of avoiding or numbing these shadow movements I choose to sit with them and listen to what they have to tell me.
I’ve already begun to pay attention to the heart movements that make me feel the most alive, the
, the most like my authentic self. This week I will begin to also notice those times when I feel anxious, sad, or angry. What is going on when these feelings emerge? What can I learn from them about who God has created me to be? Do they reveal anything about what may be holding me back?
Questions for Reflection
- As I look back over the events of the day I pay close attention to any discomfort in my physical body. Where in my body do I feel a reaction to something I am remembering? Is there an ache in my throat, a tightness in my chest, or a knot in my stomach? I sit with these sensations in silence as if sitting at the bedside of a sick friend. I make myself available in case my body wants to tell me something about these events.
- Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. When have I rejected the shadow sides of myself instead of responding in love? When did I criticize or judge too harshly? If instead I were to come alongside these broken pieces of myself and treat them as a friend, what could I learn about how to be more authentically the person that God created me to be? What happens if I extend mercy to myself instead?
- As I review the interactions I had with others during the day, do I notice any moments where I missed an opportunity to share the burdens of another? I search my heart for what may have been distracting me. Do I sense an invitation from the Holy Spirit to choose to move closer to a person who is suffering next time?
- Were there any moments today when I felt isolated or lonely? What was the barrier between myself and others? Was there anything that made me feel far away from God? What does God want me to know about these moments?
- Did I experience any moments of anxiety today? As I observe myself in these moments, where do I sense God? What would happen if I brought these fears to God and allowed Him to comfort me?
- I pay close attention to my day and notice if I experienced any feelings of heaviness or a burden that is too great for me to carry. I ask God if this is something that He wants me to let go of. Is this something I can leave behind or something I can allow Him to help me carry? What might that look like?
If you’re interested in more content like this, you can download our whole ebook How To Notice What God Is Doing, 7 examens to prepare your heart for Cause Con.