In my daily Examen, I often ask God to simply show me “the truth of my life.” I hope to be able to see things as they really are and not as I might think they are. I might think I’m being a great friend, but in reality I am needling someone unnecessarily.
So I need God. I need God to reveal to me what the real situation in my life is. Not what it might be. What it is. What exactly did I do today? How was I with myself today? Did I give things my best effort? Or did I languish?
I need to remove my own biases and pre-judgements of people in order to see them as they are and not as I suppose them to be. I can only do this confidently when I see the events in my life as they are.
I can remember sitting at a lunch table back in my radio days and having what I thought was a grand time with colleagues. But when I asked God to show me the truth of my life, I found that I often would get sucked into the drama of office gossip and found myself horrified by what I saw. I very nearly screamed “STOP!” as I saw the events unfold.
Or I can remember teaching a little boy how to shoot a basketball. I was a summer day camp counselor and this little kid, Mark, was so afraid of the ball. We practiced and got him to throw and catch. Then we got him to start to try to shoot a basket underhand. Up and miss. Up and miss. “A little harder!” I bellowed with a smile. “C’mon Mark!” Then it happened he hit the front of the rim! He gasped. “Almost!” I said. “See, you can do it! Just a bit more oomph!” The next shot he chucked toward the rim. I watched its trajectory moving upwards, looking right at the center of the basket and SWISH! Right into the net!
I turned and looked at little Mark, and his eyes grew wide and this huge smile fell upon his face. He ran and hugged me, and I lifted him over my head like the Stanley Cup, both of us in pure, unadulterated joy.
Talk about progress in meaningful work! And re-watching this revealed the truth of my life to me. Mentoring and coaching this child in fear of even a basketball, would speak to me for the next 25 years. What other fears might I help dispel in people? How might God be calling me to help people overcome fear so as to be free to see joy? Mark’s face was clearly the face of God calling me to pay attention to the truth of what I wished to become.
What is the truth of YOUR life? How might you look to engage understanding this? The Ignatian Examen is a clear way to begin to understand the patterns of our days, and more importantly, can lead us into finding God in the center of our occupations—waiting for us with a smile after a swish, but also with a look of love after gossiping, prodding us to change mercifully, if but only for our own good.