It almost seems too cliche to say out loud. But in this world of #blessed Facebook and Instagram pictures, I struggle with discontentment.
I get what we’re doing when we press post. We’re putting our best foot forward. We’re choosing to share the good moments; OF COURSE we don’t broadcast the bad for the world to see. It’s common knowledge that our posts are just a snapshot of a messy life. Very few of us have it all together, and for those who do, it won’t last long.
Armed with all that knowledge, I still feel the twinges of discontentment as I scroll through pictures of beaches, babies, and #blessed pics. This weird cliched struggle is real.
After a particularly depressing scrolling session, I turned to my husband and said, “Literally minutes ago I was fine with my life. Not anymore.” For me, giving up social media altogether isn’t a feasible solution (I’m a blogger, after all), but I knew I needed to do something.
So, in my pursuit of gratitude and contentment, I starting using the Prayer of Examen to keep a tab on what I was believing about who God is and who he says I am.
The Prayer of Examen is a set of questions that Christians around the world have been using for centuries. It was created by a priest named Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century. The goal of the Prayer of Examen is to spend time each day, or week, intentionally reflecting on God’s nearness and where we sense him moving in us and through us. As we recognize God’s steady movement in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and families, it’s harder to live a discontented life. Instead, we find meaning and fulfillment in the places and relationships God has put around us.
There are many different versions of the Examen, but generally it’s a set of 5 questions we can use to guide our reflections and prayer:
- When in the past week have I sensed God’s presence?
- As I think back through my day, what am I grateful for?
- How am I feeling today? What could God be saying to me through those feelings?
- What happened today that God might want to talk with me about?
- As I look to tomorrow, what are things I’m looking forward to or nervous about? Talk to God about those things.
Working through these questions day after day has helped me to more easily focus on what God is doing in and through me, which leaves less time to dwell on areas of discontentment. When I’m aware of God’s presence, I become more aware of His goodness and love for me, despite what’s going wrong (or right) in my life.