The Examen, the Ignatian practice of reviewing your day to see God in all you did, is a way of looking at the good, the bad and ugly of your day.
Oh Lord save me from these kids, this day, my hubby, my job! Every mom knows these feelings: when nothing is going right. Just the day before we felt like David, we felt like all that AND a bag of crisps. Then there are days when our head is on a plate and nothing we have done has been right.
That is when we realize that God displays His love for us, our family, loved ones, co-workers, community. Something will happen during our day that will help turn things around. Or we will get one of those “divine inklings” that we would be better off if we just change our attitude/view/idea.
We just need to keep our eyes, (spiritual and physical), open for all the ways we can change the day.
Help turning that frown upside down by living love:
1. Do something nice for someone else. We hear this all the time, but don’t often know why it works. Bad days can make us wallow in the why me of it all. If we force ourselves to break out of the pattern it changes us, physically. The Happy chemistry of our brains: endorphin, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine; God has created to help us with pain, (endorphin), gives us warm loving/mommy feelings, (oxytocin), experience the joy we feel when we are out in the sun on a beautiful day, (serotonin), and dopamine which helps us take pleasure in our lives; these all are activated when we step out of selves to do something for someone else.
2. Do something that lifts your mood. Lifting our mood has the same effect as doing something for others. With this we have stepped out of the wallowing and are deliberately putting us into a better STATE of MIND. We are creating a new being/us. God doesn’t want us to wallow that puts us in the realm of the negative.
3. Discern what could be at the heart of it all. Sometimes we can stand in front of our wall calendar and stare at it like deers in the highlights, then fear grips us and freeze in place. Or we walk into the kitchen and find our lovely loved ones have “cooked” but the idea of cleaning up eludes them, again we can freeze. So what can you do? First start by thinking about all you have to do try and put it into perspective. Identify what it is that’s concerning you, and break it down to smaller, manageable goals/tasks. Is God asking you to understand if you take on more than you can do? Do you have to do it all, after all you didn’t make a huge mess in the kitchen? This step speaks to how you feel you are being perceived by others. Is God calling you to look at how well you respect yourself. When you feel walked upon, you feel disrespect. Can you visualise how good you’ll feel when you’ve got through it? By reducing the problem, you contain it, and it needn’t ruin the rest of your day. What this really means is God wants us to take control of what we can in our lives.
When I was in formation to become a spiritual director one of the things we studied in depth were dreams. Dreams have always been important to the spiritual understanding of a person. Joseph, of the technicolor coat, had dreams that prophesied to Pharaoh about famine and plenty in Egypt. We have Joseph, foster father of Jesus, having the dream that saved Mary and Jesus.
Well, this morning I had a doosie. The first thing in understanding how God might be talking to you through your dream is for you to examine the setting, so here goes:
[Note: always try and write down the dream as soon a possible after you awaken. Prayerfully ask God/Holy Spirit to be with you and give you insights about the dream. Write all impressions you were given, look at them to see patterns of understanding, what is God calling you to learn/release/become]
My dream – Greg and I were taking a vacation with the “children”. But it is only our eldest son and twin daughters, our second son was not there. That was interesting. Why only those children? [A little backstory: My husband and I have four children, each with their own unique challenges, we have twins girls, is that important to the dream, and two boys, our eldest had a great many challenges, and he is represented in the dream – interesting. Now all our children have/are successfully overcoming these challenges; is that important to the dream?]
We are driving to the “mountains”. [Alright, one step in understanding your dreams is to try and remember every detail about the environment: what is the environment, what does it feel like, smell like, look like. Does it have an importance to you, significance?] It feels like the mountains, there are families with children of all ages running around having a good time. The air is sweet, it feels very relaxing. We are driving to our cabin. Greg turns to me and says: Now, don’t be afraid, just answer their questions, just tell the truth.” (My thoughts in the dream) Truth? Why wouldn’t I say the truth. (Then the thought pop in my head: My truth!) We arrive at our cabin. Inside is a young woman, and a older woman. The young woman greets me. The older is in the kitchen area, “cooking”. [Cooking, nurturing? Nurturing who, me, others?] Greg and our three children act as if they have interacted with both these women before. Than the dream switches to our “house”. But it’s not a house I have ever lived in. I am in our eldest son’s “room” with our youngest twin looking at a huge dictionary. Our eldest son comes in and says: “Stop looking at my pictures!” [What pictures?] Then the scene jumps back to the “cabin”. I am nervously sitting on a stool in the kitchen/dining room area, twirling on the stool looking at my children and my husband as I turn. [Is that important?] The older woman starts to ask me questions about my childhood: What did my father do, my mother. Was I ever afraid. What did I do with this fear? The questions make me uncomfortable, why is she digging into my life like. What right does she have? Who does she think she is? The scene switches again. Now, I am wearing a huge dress, it doesn’t feel like mine, over it is a huge tee-shirt. Both are wet. I have been “swimming’. I feel embarrassed as I go from place to place between trees and open area looking for somewhere to “dry off.” I feel as if everyone is looking at me, laughing. In reality no-one is.
As soon as I feel this I am back on the stool with the older woman questioning me on my relationship with my father. I had a good relationship, it was the relationship my mom that was needy, clingy; am I being asked to look at my parenting style, or relationship style, slightly confused, what does she want?
Then she says to be to aware and live my truth. Which truth, what truth. That is when I wake up.