Sunday 14 January 2024

New Year's Examen

At New Year's we're often encouraged to make resolutions - to look to the year ahead and think about what we'd like to do differently.  However, inspired by the daily "Examen" (a Jesuit practise of praying about/reflecting on your day) which I've found so helpful this year, last week I decided to follow a similar process to reflect on the past year instead.

the beach where I often go when I want to take time and reflect

Guided by these thoughts and questions I prayed about the good things that had happened this year and where I'd seen God in those.  That included:

  • moving away from detailed budgeting - which I think of now as God calling us away from something that had been a means of grace but had become a burden;
  • God showing me that Just Kai's growth and profile was His responsibility rather than mine (which happened most particularly back at Easter, when I'd been working hard trying to get various newspapers etc. interested in our Easter recommendations, all to no avail, and then TV1 called me out of the blue and asked me to talk on Breakfast!);
  • the Examen itself, which I feel God has used to grow me in patience and detachment this year.

I then also prayed about the hard things and where I'd seen God in those, too.  That included:

  • seeing my parents ageing;
  • Martin's work taking a lot of his attention as he learned a new role;
  • so often feeling like there are so many important things that I'm not doing, as my energy continues to be so limited.

And yet, in each of those I also saw ways in which God was acting through those things, both supporting me in them and challenging me through them.

Thank you, God, for your great kindness to me!

After that, the notes I was following also encouraged me to reflect on where I had resisted God and gone against Him in this past year.  For me, that is so often resisting my conscience: feeling a strong sense that I shouldn't say something (nearly always it's about words, for me, rather than actions) and saying it anyway.  Because that's what I wanted to do, even though I knew God was saying not to.

Lord, please give me strength to respond more to those prompts this year!

And then, right now, our church is in the middle of two weeks of prayer and fasting (where fasting can mean a variety of things, depending on what works for each individual).  I have been fasting from food for a chunk of the day - and the main thing I've learned is how far I have to go when it comes to the patience and detachment I'd been celebrating in the examen!  It turns out I'm a lot less patient, generous and kind when I'm hungry.... So that's something I've been praying about the past few days - that I will lean more on God and draw strength from Him, rather than my strength coming so much from a full tummy!

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