A new year has come and for most of us it’s a new beginning. Who doesn’t love the opportunity to begin again? There is the feeling of a fresh start and new resolve that things will be different than last year. This is typically when we start the diet we’ve put off for so long or pledge to be more organized. This is the time we might intentionally address those nagging indicators we have up until now ignored that all might not be well with our soul. This season offers a place of pause, reflection and personal discernment that has otherwise been pushed aside in the busyness of the holiday season. It’s a great time to consider what our lives should look like and our own need for rhythms like work and rest, solitude and community, that sustain us over the long haul.
The art of self examination doesn’t come easily or naturally to any of us, and, unfortunately, I think that many of us don’t take this responsibility seriously enough. Even when we know there is something wrong with the state of our souls, rather than pausing and listening to the guidance of God, we soldier on in valiant self-reliance missing our ability to hear God’s still small voice that offers us refreshment.
Christine Sine, a fellow blogger, offers us a wonderful tool for examining our the condition of our spiritual lives with a spiritual audit. I hope you take up her instructions to get away for at least a half day and consider how you might answer her questions:
Yesterday in the class I am teaching here at OMSC in New Haven CT I spoke about how to take a spiritual audit. Many of us struggle with a chronic gnawing anxiety because we don’t feel our spiritual life is adequate but most of us rarely spend time evaluating how healthy our spiritual life really is.
I think this is something that all of us should do on a regular basis. If this is something you struggle with take some time to answer the questions below. If possible get away for half a day (or longer if you can) and combine this with a time of listening for God’s voice and direction. I like to start with some general questions about my life and then move to more specific spiritual questions.
Look back over the last week or month
Consolations: what has life gaining and deepened your sense of connection to God?
Desolations: what has been life draining and made you lose that sense of intimacy with God?
How is God speaking to you through this?
What are the major pressures in your life? Where do you think the pressure comes from and what are the underlying causes?
How do these affect your spiritual well being?
In what ways could they be harnessed so that your heart could be broken open to new possibilities for a better future?
What daily and weekly events set the rhythm for your life? Which of these contribute to your spiritual well being and which distract from it?
How well are you maintaining your spiritual life:
What gives you joy in your spiritual journey at present?
Where do you sense God is currently at work in your transformation? What would give God the most opportunity to continue that work?
What do you do on a regular basis to nurture your spiritual life?
What are the major distractions that interfere with regular spiritual disciplines?
How has God spoken to you in the last week:
through the needs of others
through the words of others
through other means
What changes is God prompting you to make in order to further your spiritual growth:
In your daily or weekly commitments and rhythms?
In your spiritual routines?
How will you ensure that these changes are adhered to?
What is one new practice you would like to institute to help maintain your new resolutions?
What is one relationship you could nurture to provide accountability and encouragement as you walk this journey?
You can find her blog and this post at: http://godspace.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/have-you-taken-a-spiritual-audit-lately/