Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Examen

There is a spiritual practice called The Examen that is a kind of daily inventory and gratitude list combined.

Each evening you take a few minutes of quiet time and sit with a journal and write down the answers to these questions:

What gave me energy today?
What drained my energy today?


What was I grateful for today?
What was I not grateful for today?

The idea of The Examen is that over time a pattern will be revealed that shows you where your real talents and gifts lie.

This idea of following pleasure or energy to discern one’s passions and talents is also described in Marion Milner’s book, “A Life of One’s Own.” Each night Milner looked over her day and asked herself what gave really her pleasure. A key insight that she shares in her book is that so often she—and we--try to enjoy something because others enjoy it rather than finding out what we really enjoy.

It strikes me that for women in recovery this may be a new kind of inventory and also a way to find where God is working in our lives.

It also reminds me of the fear I had early in recovery of turning my will over to God. I thought that if I did that God would want me to be a missionary in Africa or do something equally uncomfortable and hard. People with more recovery than me pointed out that God would not want me to be a missionary because I’d be a terrible, fussy one. God had other plans for me that more likely included the skills and preferences he designed into this model. Hard to get that. Even harder to believe it. But a practice like the Examen can tease this truth out.

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