Search me, God, and know my heart… Psalm 139:23.
While Socrates is credited with saying, “Know thyself,” how many people have the courage to look in the mirror or the humility to see the potential for evil within? Ever had anyone (usually a detractor) point out an unattractive attitude or behavior? The response, most likely, is hurt or denial or anger, rather than gratitude.
Foster (Celebration of Discipline) says self-knowledge should be one of the principle objects of study.* He doesn’t provide a laundry list, but here are some questions that I frequently ask myself:
• What just happened when he “pushed my button”?
• What did he say that provoked my reaction?
• Why did that upset me?
• What is the root of this negative emotion?
• What from the past am I suppressing or ignoring rather than recalling, processing, and dragging to the Light for healing and resolution?
• What am I choosing not to forgive?
This is just a starting point. Foster also asks Who or what controls us?
Honest reflection can be helpful, but when I experience pain in ordinary daily transactions, that’s when I’m most motivated to ask the questions that bring about change. And when God, the Holy Spirit, initiates the event, I’m ready to cooperate. When, on my own, I begin unhealthy introspection, the flaws can be overwhelming.
Essentially, we wait until the disequilibrium comes in everyday living, ask God to search us and show us the root issue causing the problem, and then start the questioning of ourselves. Working with the Spirit, we confront the source of the pain and then take the necessary action to begin the healing process.
Why should we suffer from the same injuries or misconceptions for decades when confronting and resolving them can lay them to rest forever? Jesus asked a man who’d been crippled for years, “Do you want to be healed” (John 5:6)? Good question. What’s stopping us?
Father, sometimes it seems that we cling to those things that wound rather than allowing ourselves to get well. Open our foolish eyes and make us well. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.
*Foster warns “depressives or others who are bowed low by the burdens of life” should avoid this exercise as self-defeating.