Every night during my freshman year of college my roommate, Nikki, and I would share our highs and lows of the day. It was an easy practice that she initiated because there were days when we barely saw each other, yet we still wanted to catch up and know what was going on in each other’s lives! I woke up this morning to a text from Nikki sharing her highs and lows with me, about eight years later, and my heart became so full. Craziest part is, this wasn’t the first moment God put this practice on my heart that day.
Yesterday I went back to Divinity School and I was SO excited!! Mostly to see all my friends again, but I was also energized by a fresh load of classes I’ll be taking, one of which is called Spirituality + Discernment. I learned that in this class we will be given the tools of discernment and will be engaging in various practices throughout the semester. The first practice we learned is called the Examen.
Now, when I saw I had an “Examen” due every week, my first thought was a flash back to Spanish class where I knew Examen meant Exam in Spanish. Thankfully, it is far from that! The Examen is simply a gratitude practice at the end of the day where you breathe, and then ask two simple questions:
- What is it I am most grateful for?
- What is it I am least grateful for?
Lucky for me, I already practice the first question each evening (because practicing gratitude is my life-saver every morning and night y’all), but I had never considered adding in the second part. A high and a low for the day, if you will, just like my freshman year.
Through initiating this practice again, I believe I will learn a lot about myself, especially through the second question. When I notice what drains me of energy and when I recognize what I am least grateful for, then, depending on what it is, I might have the capacity to change it moving forward.
“The examen helps me get better at telling the truth about who I am and what I need.” ~ Sleeping with Bread, Sheila Linn
It is truly amazing how much we can learn from ourselves just by taking a few moments to reflect. It’s kind of funny to me when I realize how quick I am to look to others for decision-making help or validation…when instead I could consistently reflect on my experiences and learn so much on my own.
Our professor, Dr. Chris Copeland, said it so beautifully, that God and our experiences are interwoven. God moves through our experiences and nothing is without purpose.
Lean into what energizes you and learn from what drains you.
By taking time to reflect on our days, we give God space to speak to us through our experiences. Many people want help discerning their “call” on their lives, and I believe our Creator is revealing pieces of it to us each day through the experiences we already have. We just have to take time to slow down and listen.