Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In this same spirit, on Day 25 of 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, Tommy Newberry suggests we take time to look around and see what’s working in our lives, what’s bombing, and how we can improve before it’s too late.
This is a perfect activity for the home-bound during the COVID-19 Pandemic. You may have already begun, because there is nothing like being stuck inside with your family—or by yourself—for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, confronting possible infection and death for yourself or loved ones as well as radical shift in the economy, to encourage you to take a long look at your life and wonder where it goes from here. For those of you on the front lines, battling the virus and taking care of us, thank you! You, too, might be questioning the nature of your life and contemplating how you would like it to change going forward.
Newberry says it is the frenetic pace of life that keeps us from carving out the time to do this. Since most of us have slowed down due to shelter-in-place orders, today is as good as any to start this process. Of course, I appreciate that your circumstances may not seem as sleepy as I might imagine. Parents are trying to work from home while homeschooling children, chasing toddlers, nursing babies. Everybody wants to continue meeting on ZOOM. Netflix is always beckoning. About the only time we’re really saving is drivetime and an uneasiness can settle over everything so that thinking and planning seem as impossible as ever.
The author offers the following strategy for quieting your monkey mind and creating the space to complete this exercise. Block out time on your calendar. That may mean swapping parenting duties with your spouse or letting your roommates know that you’re going to step away from group life for a while. If you’re on your own, it could be as simple as hiding the remote or turning off the TV at the appointed time. Find a peaceful spot and start by becoming lost in the goodness of God. Suggestions include reading some Psalms that describe God and his character, reminding yourself of his love, his wisdom, his power, and his grace. Stay in this mindset for as long as need be to become still in his presence. Don’t rush or hurry. Just listen. Ask the questions: What is working? What is not working? What changes could you make to become more open to God’s transformation in your life?
For me, just getting still before God and listening for his voice would be so lovely! My mind volleys between contemplating the news of the day and forcefully bringing my thoughts back to the goodness of God, his love for me, and his wonderful promises. How much better to be so quiet before him that I can pray along with King David, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting “(Psalm 139: 23-24 NIV) and hear him whisper his answer!
Please remember that this isn’t an exercise aimed at guilt or condemnation. The question isn’t, “What’s wrong with me!” It’s an opportunity to recognize where you are, where you want to go, and—with God’s guidance and direction—head out on a new adventure!
Newberry suggests that today you begin by looking at the past 90 days. Include all areas of your life such as finances, interpersonal relationships, work, health, family, church, or home. What’s working? What’s not been working so well? How could you improve in the upcoming 90 days? To keep it up, you might want to do a mini-assessment each week of the past seven days with improvements that you could instigate in the coming week.
What’s working best for your right now?