Theme of the Week: Stress
Bible Verse: Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds search your hearts and be silent. Psalm 4:4
Scripture Reading: Psalm 77:6
Much of our current culture works against the development of our emotional awareness. We are given a day for weddings and a day for funerals. We control anger for the sake of peace-keeping and suppress sadness as a pragmatic intervention to keep our days productive. Gone are the days of sackcloth and ashes, tearing of clothes, and a culture presumably more comfortable with emotional expression.
Christians who belong to older denominations often have the privilege or benefit of understanding the historical perspective of the ancient traditions we read about in this portion of scripture. When we think about the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) we might imagine bleachers full of the saints cheering us on as we “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
What if we began to access the cloud of witnesses, not simply as encouragers, but as a library of individuals, all of which the Holy Spirit faithfully led towards their own God-glorifying histories?
Saint Ignatius (1491-1556) developed the Prayer of Examen, a slow and simple movement that helps us be with God with emotional sensitivity. Let’s move through this guide as a means of being with God and allowing our internal world to have its voice.
- Slow down and allow yourself to become aware of God’s presence.
- Review the day, from beginning to present, silently expressing gratitude for everything that comes to mind.
- Observe what emotions rise to the surface without judgment. Not what you ought to feel or think, but what emotions are actually present.
- Identify which emotion is most prominent, express it conversationally and honestly to God.
- Express gratitude and hope for the future.
To deal with our stress, we need to reckon and attend to how we are feeling.
Prayer: God, thank you for my emotions. Help me to understand and embrace them as part of who you made me to be.
Reflect: Emotions are sometimes uncomfortable and confusing. But we were made with them as part of our humanity. They are sometimes twisted and out of balance because of our sinful world, but they are still part of our God-created being. Take some time today to wrestle with the emotions life evokes.
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