I want to start something new on my blog, but I need your help. I want to hear the best part and worst part of your life over the past month. In other words: your highlight and lowlight. Or, if you prefer: your happy/crappy!
The fancy term for this is examen, which means examination of conscious. It is a spiritual discipline that leads the individual to focus on the consolation (the good) and the desolation (the bad) of his or her life. We all have triumphs and we all have defeats. I believe we must be sharing them with one another.
Here is something I have noticed. When I share a post about depression, loneliness, or some other struggle many of us face, I receive a lot of feedback. Often, the comments come on facebook or on this blog, but just as often those comments come in private messages. I get that. I get the anonymity that people believe they must have in order to prevent being put down or cast aside. When people open up, they are afraid they will be looked down on. And I can’t say that I blame them.
But I continue learning that none of us are facing struggles alone. There are so many people all around us that need to hear our stories—YOUR story. People need to know that others are struggling with similar issues so that we can begin to support one another instead of continuing to isolate.
Here is something else I have noticed. When people who have been in the midst of a struggle experience some type of joy, they do not know what to do with it. Is it appropriate to be happy? Dare I smile for a moment in the midst of all this pain? Sometimes we are afraid of being happy.
But all of go through ups and downs. All of us go through seasons of life. All of us face the variety of emotions common to humanity. We need to be able to speak the good just as often as we speak the bad. Because some days I need you to remind me that it will get better. It may never be the same as it was, but there is a day coming when there will be some relief.
We should never stay in either consolation or desolation. We move back and forth between both. So here is my new, interactive task for readers of my blog: share with us your consolation (highlight/happy) and desolation (lowlight/crappy) from the past month. You can think about in several ways: simply use the terms I have already given, or think about when you were the closest to God and when you were the farthest away from God. For those of you who are not particularly religious or spiritual, when you were the closest to the person you need to be and when were you the farthest away from the person you need to be.
Please share with us. Share in the comments on this post. Or share in the comments on facebook or on twitter (my handle there is paulmathis2). I will do this once a month, so please take part continually. I believe this is an important spiritual practice. We end every day at FaithWorks of Abilene with this practice. I am in a weekly prayer group that practices this, as well.
We need community. We need to support one another. We need to know that we are not alone in our struggle. We need to remember that there is joy in the midst of our pain. So please join with us in sharing our highlight/lowlight.
For me this month, my highlight is my relationship with my three children. I am so impressed at their thoughtfulness and spiritual discernment at such young ages (15, 13, 11). I have often felt far away from my oldest, but I believe we are closer now than we have ever been. My middle child is full of God’s Spirit and it shines through her constantly. My youngest continues to fill my days with joy.
My lowlight is my health. In the long run, it is not a big deal, but I have to go back on cholesterol medicine. A little over 2 years ago, my bad cholesterol was really high and I was given a prescription but never took it. My classmates at that time encouraged me, I started taking the pills, and my numbers came down. I began exercising (a little) and eating better. But I have been off the medication for a year and my numbers are back up. I am not doing as well as I thought. I come from a family of heart disease. My brother died 4 years ago at age 47 of a heart attack. I need to get this under control. In addition to the medicine, I need to better with diet and exercise.
So what about you? What is your highlight/lowlight? What are your consolations and desolations? Please do not be afraid to share. May you find encouragement as you read what others have to say.