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 What Is Important To Me
My Values: What is important to me? By Dixie Vargo, Columbus, OH
When I think of values, I think about shopping. When I visit an online store, I see products that are assigned dollar amounts which reflect the value the seller has assigned to those items. It is one of those odd twists of language to realize that the word “value” is often used interchangeably with the words “cost” and “price”. As I reflect on my own personal values, I am taking time to identify those things in this world for which I am willing to experience some measure of personal sacrifice – things that feel worthy of the cost or price I will pay to live into them. Values are the things that cost us something when we lean our lives toward them.
I live in a culture with deeply entrenched values, although the way these values are defined and the means by which they are attained are highly debated in our increasingly polarized society. It’s important for me to know where I stand. There are so many voices coming at me from countless sources, some loudly contending that their position is the right one. I need to look within my own heart, my own personal convictions, and consider these questions in the Lord’s presence.
I look full into the face of Jesus. His penetrating gaze peers deeply into my soul, revealing the very core of my inner being. I see the tenderness in His face as we have an honest, open, and very real conversation about my values. My heart swells with an awareness of the weight of his love for me and every other person on this planet. He shows me the bigger picture, the broader scope of influence that my values might have on the world.
Questions for Reflection
- What importance do I want to put on my own personal integrity, trustworthiness, and transparency? What emotions rise inside me when I think of allowing myself to be vulnerable to others?
- How do I want to define success in my life? What words do I want to remember in times of failure?
- How willing am I to sacrifice my own rights, opinions, and preferences for the sake of unity with those who are different from me?
- What criteria do I want to use to weigh issues of justice and mercy?
- If I could visualize my life stretched out before me like empty pages of a book yet to be written, how might my values define what the chapter titles might be? Take some time to write out some titles that describe what you want the book of your life to be about.
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.