One of the six practices we encourage everyone to do in order to grow in their faith is personal development. Jesus told us that we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves” so the more we love ourselves in the way God loves us, the better we will be able to love our children, our spouses, our friends and our enemies. At PEACE we see Personal Development as a way to grow in our physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Physical Well-being: Includes things like eating right, exercising at least 3 times per week, and getting plenty of rest. Why not join the YMCA. It is a Christian organization that promotes wholeness in body, mind and spirit. Our physical well-being affects our ability to serve God and others.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (NIV)
Mental Well-being: It’s important to continue to stretch our minds through things like continuing education, trainings, seminars and workshops. We encourage people to set goals in reading a set number of books per month or learning new activities. Our minds are a terrible thing to waste.
Emotional Well-being: Here we encourage an ancient practice called the “Examination of Conscience” – where you identify and confess your sins on a daily basis. Emotional well-being can also include things like stress reducing habits, spending time with optimistic people, learning to say “no” to the “good” things in life so you can enjoy the “best” things in life and organizing and arranging things at home and work so that your environment is more relaxing.
Examination of Conscience: Remembering the day…
In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius urged that all be taught the examen, a daily examination of our deepest feelings and desires. He called these feelings our consolations (what connects us with God, others and ourselves) and desolations (what disconnects us). He believed that God would speak to us through these feelings and desires. It’s not surprising that this saint felt so strongly about the examen – this prayer practice changed him from a wild soldier to a pilgrim walking barefoot to Jerusalem.
The examen helps us:
- Acknowledge sad or painful feelings and hear how God is speaking to us through them.
- Overcome a pessimistic outlook by encouraging us notice the good in each day.
- Tell the truth about who we truly are and what we need, rather than who we think we should be.
- Become aware of seemingly insignificant moments that ultimately can give direction for our lives.
Preparation: You may wish to light a candle. Do whatever helps you to experience God’s loving presence with you. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe in God’s love, and when you breathe out, fill the space around you with it.
Ready to try it?
Ask God to bring to your awareness the moment today for which you are most grateful.
- If you could relive one moment, which one would it be?
- When were you most able to give and receive love today?
- Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so good.
Breathe in the gratitude you felt and receive life again from that moment.
Ask God to bring to your awareness the moment today for which you are least grateful.
- When were you least able to give and receive love?
- Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so difficult. Relive the feelings without trying to change or fix it in any way.
Take deep breaths and let God’s love fill you just as you are.
Give thanks for whatever you have experienced. If possible, share as much as possible of these two moments with a friend.