Wholehearted

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6


This weekend, Ryan Howell and the Crossroads team talked about the heart. Ryan did a great job of explaining how the Hebrew imagination understood the heart as having four dimensions: thinking, feeling, choosing and behaving. The biblical writers carried this view of the heart forward through the teachings of Jesus, Paul and others.

Fast forward to today, and the Hebrew way of understanding the heart maps perfectly with the research findings of Dr. Brené Brown and the Daring Way™ community.

The research shows that people who go through really hard things and grow emotionally, spiritually and relationally are people who are in touch with the various parts of their hearts. Another way of saying this is that emotionally resilient people understand themselves really well. They are able to observe themselves thinking, feeling and acting. And! They take responsibility for choosing their thoughts, feelings and actions. Because of these skills, they trust themselves. And this knowing of self ,and trusting self, also aids us in knowing and trusting God and creating a circle of trust in our important relationships.

This may sound a bit too theological, metaphysical and analytical for some. But the good news is that we can cultivate whole-heartedness without much knowledge or interest in the scholarly aspects of this topic.

If the wholehearted self is a combination of our thinking, feeling, choosing and doing-selves, we ought to get to know each of these selves! This means spending time and talking with ourselves and God about our thoughts, feelings, choice-making and actions. This is totally doable, and you can start growing today.

Spiritual Practice:

Read Proverbs, Chapter 3:1-8. Sit silently, breath, relax… When you’re feeling centered and present with yourself and your physical surroundings, try the following exercise.

Identify an uncomfortable emotion or experience you’ve had in the past few days, and write, pray or talk about the following prompts:

  1. I’m physically feeling _____________. Ask: How is my body responding? Where am I physically feeling this? (Common bodily responses include: accelerated pulse, dry mouth, tight throat, discomfort in your head or stomach…)
  2. I’m thinking ________________. Ask: Is there a thought constantly looping in my mind? What’s my go-to thought process?
  3. I do / I act ___________________. Ask: What’s the first thing I want to do? What’s the only thing I want to do?

This exercise will put you in touch with all the parts of your heart! As we get to know these parts of ourselves, we become what is called—integrated beings. And we become more and more able to redirect our feelings, thoughts and actions. That self-regulation is what is meant by choices—or “the will.”

Thomas Merton writes that the concept of “the heart” refers to the deepest psychological ground of one’s personality, the inner sanctuary where one’s self-awareness goes beyond analytical reflection and opens out into union with God.

Friends, our hearts never stop growing and changing. How exciting to think that we can be a vital part of that process.

More on this tomorrow evening. It’s so important during this uncertain season of our life together.

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,
Katie

Daily Examen

Since the object of our love is infinite, we can always love more and more perfectly.  St. Ignatius of Loyola

O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with songs, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. Psalm 43:3-6


Has your week been a blur? Do you even know what day it is?

I had to think about it! It’s Friday. I’m actually moving, if you can believe that. Dave and I are taking our time, migrating our things from a temporary house to some newly remodeled digs. I picked a fight with him today, because he was bringing boxes and items in the front door too fast for my taste! In between moving tasks, we’re each doing our day jobs from the home office, like many of you; and like many of you, we’re not getting the traction we want each day.

The Good New is: every day is an opportunity for grace and self-compassion. In these days, I find it helpful to have spiritual exercises I can practice until they become– my practice. One such practice is the Daily Examen.

Spiritual Practice: The Daily Examen

Another way to pray is to watch for God’s presence in your life. More than 400 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola taught about mindfulness via a simple practice called the Daily Examen. The Examen is a guided reflection on the events of the day meant to help us notice God’s presence and receive God’s guidance. Most people practice Examen in the evening, but many prefer to look back on the previous day each morning. Try this version of St. Ignatius’s prayer:

1. Become aware of God’s presence. Sit quietly in a comfortable spot and establish your openness to God: Breath deeply, sit in silence until your mind slows down, read Psalm 43:3-6. Then, review the events of your day with a prayerful attitude. The day may seem blurry or meaningless to you. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.

2. Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note the joy and goodness. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at your work and the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.

3. Pay attention to your emotions. One of St. Ignatius’s great insights was that we detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Joy? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings?

God will most likely show you some ways that you fell short. Make note of these mistakes and faults. But look deeply for other implications. Does a feeling of frustration perhaps mean that God wants you consider a new direction in some area of your work? Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you should reach out to her in some way.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.

5. Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask for help and understanding. Pray for hope.

St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins and healing for your wounds. Ask for God’s protection and help. Ask for God’s wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude. Your life is a gift, and it is filled with gifts from God. End the Daily Examen with the Our Father.

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,
Katie

The Name Game

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1

Gracious God, help us to become masters of recognizing and regulating own emotions and thus a transforming presence in an anxious world. Amen


My colleague Ryan Howell is on Facebook Live, 10am weekdays, sharing a Daily Drop of Hope. This morning the topic was The Blame Game. I encourage you to join Ryan for a hopeful thoughts and actual Bible wisdom. (Sometimes the Bible is used to spread foolery—just sayin’.)

And now for my expertise on the Blame Game: I have thousands of stories of me using blame to discharge my own emotional discomfort. However, I have no actual video footage of me doing these childish things. And, since videos of people mercilessly blaming people are funny, I’ll borrow one from Brené Brown.

Here’s what we know about the blame game from researcher Brené Brown and the Daring Way™ community of helping professionals.

  1. We play it when we’re feeling hurt, frustrated, afraid. (Often it’s fear.)
  2. The antidote is to play the Name Game instead.

The Name Game is a little game you play with yourself when you have a blaming thought or say a blaming thing. The object of the Name Game is to graciously NAME a few things about yourself in an effort to stop the spiral and observe yourself truthfully. The payoff is peace, love and a little JOY.

Make no mistake the Name Game takes skill and courage. In order to win you need to:

  1. Name the feeling/emotion you are experiencing. (Here’s a list of core emotions; be aware that anger is what we consider a secondary emotion. It’s usually masking other emotions. Name the emotions that often show up as anger for you.)
  2. Name the place in your body where you physically feel discomfort. (Rapid pulse, dry mouth, constricted throat, racing heart, churning stomach, aching head, shaking hands, weak legs… Are we having fun yet?)
  3. Name the thoughts in your mind: (What thought loops occupy your mind; or what does your thought-process look/sound like when you’re playing the blame game?)

The Name Game is a hard alternative to blame, and it’s the only path to freedom when you get emotionally hooked. Naming your emotions and mental story lines is a way to become a transforming presence in yourself, your home and your workplace.

Spiritual Practice

Think about a time you blamed or were tempted to blame. Can you name what you were feeling?

Name the places in your body where you felt uncomfortable. And name the thoughts you were having when you blamed.

In this season, let’s be on the lookout for our own negative emotions, bodily discomfort and scary thoughts. AND! Let’s be watching out for fellow travelers who are having these experiences; and let’s show them some grace. Empathy means being able to feel what the other is feeling. Imagine what they might be feeling in their body and saying in their mind. Then say a prayer for the person and let it go!

Grace can take you places hustling can’t! (Liz Gilbert)

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,

Katie