On this episode of “Becoming Whole,” Josh and Kit unpack a spirituality tool for you that may seem tiny but has huge benefits.
“The Examen” is a way to hit pause on your schedule to sift the day out. It’s a powerful habit developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola more than 500 years ago. Now more than ever, while our world glorifies busy-ness, hurriedness, loudness; the quiet slow of The Examen feels more than necessary.
It may also feel counter-cultural and uncomfortable at times. And yet, the value of opening your eyes and your heart to being truly aware of the life before you can not be denied.
We hope you’ll consider the structured quiet time to reflect and see the good and hard spots in your day to day. In the show notes, you’ll find different ways to incorporate The Examen as an intentional process in your precious life.
The Examen: It’s slowing down long enough to pay attention to those things and bring them to God and say, ‘What do I learn about myself from that?”
The Examen: It’s a way to get at what’s going on in our lives in an intentional way and to reflect on it and to learn from it
The Examen reveals some of those moments are actually invitations from the Holy Spirit. It shows us God remembers the wounds of our lives, the patterns, the traumas, the disappointments; and wants to bring them to the surface to heal them.
The EXAMEN: Pick a time of day, Set aside 5 minutes, Breathe, Pray, Ask the Holy Spirit to help you notice.
The Examen Prayer Card from Ignatian Spirituality
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
So sometimes I’m acutely aware of in this ministry is how if we live a life, where we are not aware of the movements of God, in our lives, and around us, we are not aware of the movements of our own souls, our own minds, our own bodies, if we live with a lack of awareness about those things, then we are toast, we are just set up then to be dragged in and moved about and banged around by the patterns of this world by the movement of the enemy. And by the way, things the occurrence of the age, we need to be aware of what God is up to, and what’s really happening inside of us. kit, what do you do with that? How do you as you’re thinking about the the women you work with, think about the men that work with? Where do we go with that, that reality?
You know, there is a really beautiful spiritual practice that has been really important to me in the last few years, called the examine which does exactly what you’re talking about. It really is an intentional time, set apart with God, to pay attention, to notice to look back on the last 24 hours of your day, and slowly walk through it. And notice what happened. Where was God? Where were you grateful? Where did you feel kind of full of love in the larger sense? Where did you feel disconnected? Where did you feel disgruntled? And what were you feeling? And it’s, it’s slowing down long enough to pay attention to those things and bring them to God? And then say, What do I learn about myself from that? It’s, it’s a really, really easy, honestly, kind of a little bit more structured than solitude that we talked about last time. But it is a way to get at what’s going on in our lives in an intentional way and to reflect on it and to learn from it.
I think when when do we need to say right out of the gates, I want to I want to unpack and go back to some of what you just shared. But we have to stay out of the gates that this is a shame free exam and it’s a shame free approach doesn’t mean that you won’t find guilt. It doesn’t mean that you won’t reveal or discover evil coming at you or evil within you. But but the examine is not it’s not a place of and so even when you say stuff like you know and then what does it say about me and what is what does God think? I think for so many of us we’ve got so such a reflex towards oh crap oh crap. Sorry, God, sorry, God, that it actually keeps us from the real spirit of the discipline the spirit of the examine, which is which is a gentle examination, it is a wide open in that way. It’s kind of ruthless. It’s like, you know, I’m opening completely. Maybe Rufus isn’t the right word. courageous. Free. But but but there, the even the even the discovery of Oh god, what I’m seeing here is very uncomfortable for me. Oh, god, what I did there, what was done to me there or what I felt there feels scandalous or wrong. That’s actually stuff to observe, recognize without, without accusation without shame. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Yeah, that that it’s actually you know, inviting God into it, because God will bring comfort and guidance. He’s not going to bring condemnation that you know, mean, like, that’s the idea of the spiritual practices, including the examine is, is to allow God to do what only God can do. God does not bring condemnation when we bring ourselves you know, like in Psalm 139, when it says, you searched me, you know, me, you know, this, it’s an invitation to you know, and when you search me and when you know me, you take care of me, you you might show me some things that are difficult, but it’s never out of condemnation. It’s out of your love and your and your hope for freedom for me. So that’s really the spirit of of the examine.
Yeah, I guess I kind of think almost of like the freedom to say, oh, oh, Lord, that’s there. I see it now. Yeah, got it. Yeah, that kind of trying to you know, scurry it out of the room and shut the door. So that god you know, like, yeah, so So go back through because you you went through pretty quickly. What does it look like to look back on the day and look for the good, what is it in the the, those moments of resonance are those moments of, of a lightness and what does it look like to go back and think through I mean, can you give us more concrete are some more footholds for that.
Yeah, you know, it really is a matter of you know, I always start this practice with some breathing just some some opening myself up, Lord, help me to be settled, help me to be present help me to be open. And then you know, it’s it’s it’s really inviting the Holy Spirit. You know, as I look back on my day, Holy Spirit will you show me the places where I felt grateful where I felt full of love in the in the bigger sense and just helped me understand that moment what was going on? And and and then talk to God about it? And what made it important to you and just ask him help me understand that what does that say about me. And it can often just remind you of who you are, who He created you to be, you know that relationships really are important to you. That time in nature touches you in a deep way. And it just helps you get to know yourself with God. And the same time with the difficult things like what was really hard. When did you feel frustrated? And then be honest, don’t clean up your feelings? Ask tell God about them. Tell him about your frustration, and what’s going on? And what is word? What do you want me to know or understand about myself here? And he will show you, you know, in a loving way? Well, you know, here’s what’s going on. And sometimes you can even connect it to a deeper thing in your life. Which brings me to a story. But let me just end there. And I can I can tell you the story in a minute. But does that make it a little more clear?
Yeah. So what do you what do you say to the person who thinks back in their day or maybe starts walking back through their day and, and suddenly, something about their day? They they’re just okay, that’s just full of regret for me, I I just lambasted my kid or I sinned sexually. Or I looked at and was flirting with a guy who is not my boyfriend. I mean, like, that feels like it can almost derail somebody from that gentle response to that, that, that this, this good place with the Lord? How do you walk through that if that’s a part of your exam? Or what you discover? Yeah. Well,
when when I confess that, or when someone confesses that, you know, if I’m working with someone, I’ll say, yeah, so how, how did that feel? And when you ask God, what do you want me to learn about myself from that? What did What did you hear? And, you know, most people will say, you know, this is something I need to not deny about myself, not shamed myself, but I need to understand it, I need to acknowledge it. And God wants to be in it with me. And so it’s a matter of really being honest and realistic, apart from the shame, but you can’t, you can’t get in touch with, you know, what’s going on the the hard places in your life, if you’re not honest. And so it’s the safe place really, to be honest, and to trust that God’s going to meet you. And when you invite the Holy Spirit, and when you invite God, you’re trusting that it is this safe place. Now, of course, things can happen. People can respond differently, but in in most of the time when I’m doing it, people are sensing insight and awakening instead of judgment.
And that’s huge. I think, I think really, I mean, there’s no way to get around the reality that if you’re listening to this, and this has not been your experience, then it’s very likely that you have some, some wounded, contorted, twisted views of of what God is like with you. And yes, and I don’t say that with any any judgment or accusation I really say it with a with a heart that is that is for you. And for you discovering Jesus Christ, I mean, Jesus is, is the exact representation of the invisible God and yet so often for us, when we go to to interact with the invisible God, we we are seeing a different figure than then Christ who is love himself. And we, you know, for me, Christ in the cross, dying willingly for my sin, looking out for his beloved john and his mother. I mean, this is a self giving, loving God that we were coming to so so that’s okay, too. I mean, at the same time, and you know, if you discover that God I, you know, what is the distance I’m experiencing right now I feel displeasure and it seems to be coming from what I’m expecting from you. And just being aware of that to
me That’s very important that in itself is a is a is awakening. You know, if you Yeah, if you realize that, you know, and this is not unusual, many of us see God in ways that are true because it’s very hard to just automatically, especially if we’ve had a lot of hard experiences with a father or a mother or a parent, you know. And so it’s a process that we’re all in. And it’s not unusual to be to realize, I don’t think I see God as loving. I think I see him as a punishing God. And so that helps that opens up the conversation. Well, that’s good to know.
Yeah, I didn’t even realize when I say like it, you know, this isn’t like a, such as the prelim to exam. And that’s, that’s a part of what we find in exam, right. And I don’t mean to speak about those things is that’s just a part of my past I, there’s so much that my heart knows and has experienced to the love of God. And yet, I still find these, absolutely find these places in me where I seek to encounter him and experience something that is not him and an expectation or anticipation. So yeah, so there’s an invitation there for me as well. So Kitt, tell us tell us the story that you wanted to hear
it. Yeah. So I think, you know, part of what can come out of the exam and can again, be very powerful. And I was working with a client A few years ago, who was really struggling with aspects of her relational and sexual life. And she was aware of disappointment that she had in her life with her dad. But in a in a time of, of going through the same end, she remembered a phone call with her dad, but also another memory was tied to that of other other male family members, she had this very deep awakening that she hadn’t just been disappointed and abandoned by one man, but by several, and she had buried it, it wasn’t something that came to her awareness in her life, even though it was a she came to realize feeding into kind of this compulsive behavior. And so during the exam, and looking back on her day, she she realized that there was a deep sense of pain on this with this phone call. And then these other things, she became awakened to through it. And so those are all that’s just an example of what can happen as we, you know, trust God in these moments, and really pay attention to what’s going on in any given day that we would have never otherwise not have noticed.
Yes, I love that. I love it. This may just be me and the men I work with, I think that we have such a tendency with those those experiences, if they’re, if they go on exam, and we just it’s like, we just turn away from them. They’re like, this is uncomfortable. I don’t like this I. And so at present day interaction, or present day experience, if it’s uncomfortable, we just want to leave it behind that day. I’m glad that’s over. That was uncomfortable that pissed me off that hurt. You know, whatever it is. Give me Give me a drink when you’re watching TV. You know, yeah, Lord, help you have a better day tomorrow. Yeah, realizing and part of what I’m hearing what you’re saying is the examine actually reveals that some of those moments are actually invitations from the Holy Spirit is God remembers the wounds of our lives that in the pattern wounds and the traumas and the disappointments and the abandonment, and wants to bring them to the surface to bring healing to them. And not just, you know, not just you know, yeah, I know, that hurt, like let’s, you know, move on so and if we don’t take time, this is why the exam and and other other practices are called spiritual disciplines or spiritual practices. Because they, they, they do take intentionality they to take time. So when when do you practice the examine recommendations? As we wrap up? I’m like, Yeah, I want to start when do I do it? How frequently do this like? Yeah,
yeah, it’s great. So it’s really looking back on the last 24 hours of your day. So some people do it at night. At the end of the day, I personally like doing it in the morning. And it’s essentially you know, it doesn’t take very long to to just breathe, pray, and begin to ask the Holy Spirit to walk you through your day. And to notice that moment, I was grateful for that moment that was most difficult for me, and then to talk to God about it. And so I usually, oh, it depends, you know, like, I’m all I’m all about mixing it up. You know, the time that I spend with God and mix it up. You know, sometimes I will do the examine, you know, Every other day, and then I won’t do it for two weeks. But it’s, it’s, it’s sometimes I’ll do it every other day for, you know, a couple of months, because or every day for, you know, two weeks. So it’s there’s no no rule here, it’s really just give it a try and put it in your, in your tool box you know, put it in your, in your opportunities and options to be able to be with God and just know that it is there for you.
So by the way, the temptation kit, you’re somebody listening has never done this before. How long you inviting them to start, like, okay, just start for do this for how long does it take?
Oh, gosh, um, you know, it probably doesn’t take more than five minutes. And you can make it longer if you decide, oh, I’m gonna sit with this, I’m going to journal about this, but really to walk through your day. And to notice those moments can take is as brief as you know, five minutes or you can extend it, you know, to 10 1520. But start start, you know, start with just a basic time of prayer, and you can look it up, you can Google it. There’s all kinds of, you know, ways that you can do this prayer. And then just, you know, just do it in a way that feels comfortable, and then continue to practice it as you go.
So Jesus, I’m just struck as we as we wrap up with how beautiful the reality that a day is 1000 years to you. And 1000 years is a day and there’s so many moments in our day that we just rush past and ignore. We don’t we don’t even notice that you were standing there waiting, you’re holding something for us. You noticed a pain. There’s a door for us to enter into deeper intimacy with you or a deeper understanding of ourselves or healing from our past. Oh, Lord, help us. Another I do pray I pray for me and others listening for kit. Lord, let us teach us about exam and help us to stop for five minutes at the end of the beginning of the day and, and, and give you room or to point out to help us to understand to help us to see. Praise You Thank You, Lord Jesus, that you bring redemption to all things through your life, death and resurrection. Glory to You, Lord, and pray all these things in Jesus name. Amen.
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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