Examining examen, part two

Back to examen.

Next, Barton says, look back through the day for evidence of God’s presence. In my rush to the next conversation or agenda item or project, I forget what happens in my day. And I’ve struggled with examen for this reason. I’m afraid to go back and look. But on this night, as I thought with my pen, I found unrecognized connections, unexpected delights.

Then she suggests giving thanks for the moments that we understand and for God’s presence even in the moments we don’t understand. This walks us from simply stopping, to noticing events, to attributing intention to the events. It’s an unfamiliar feeling. I confess.

Next Barton points us to the first part of confession, asking God to help us see our “attitudes, actions, or moments when you fell short of exhibiting the character of Christ.” This phrasing matters. It is radically different than saying, “God show me how much of a failure I know I am.” And rather than looking at being a failure, she says to look, with God, at what led to those moments.

This deliberate reflection helps us see patterns, gain perspective, find hope. And then, having seen our shortfall, we ask God for forgiveness, knowing that God is willing to give it. I know this to be true. I teach other often. But specifically, orally, asking is humbling. And freeing. Moving from the thoughts in our head to the words in our mouths doesn’t make God hear any better, but it does make us own specific words.

Finally, she suggests talking with a spiritual friend about what you see. This process of sharing feels invasive or time-consuming when you read about it. Coming at the end of the process, it feels like the necessary next step.  It completes things. Until tomorrow.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

4 thoughts on “Examining examen, part two

  1. “Moving from the thoughts in our head to the words in our mouths doesn’t make God hear any better, but it does make us own specific words.”

    There’s that notion again. This isn’t about changing God or somehow manipulating Him to get our desires met. It’s about changing me, conforming closer to Jesus.

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  2. In Building a Discipling Culture, Mike Breen uses both internal processing and discussion with others to help us process KAIROS. The more I do this myself, and encourage others to do so, the more it makes sense. Some folks are introverts, happy to process internally and let it stop there. Others of us are extraverts, happy to process with others, but seldom taking the time to go deep by ourselves. I think the process of doing both leads us to full revelation.

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