Have you ever had to check yourself out? I remember when I was a kid in Boy Scouts having to do a “tick check” on myself whenever I came back from the woods. It was a very necessary (while it lacked in gracefulness and modesty) part of returning home. I have probably done this hundreds of times and only found 2 or 3.
But I am pretty glad I found those 2-3. And yes, there is an entirely awkward story from early in my marriage about a tick check.
Think of the modern health care industry. All of us are instructed on several self-examinations for different types of cancer. We know it is up to us to take responsibility for our own long term health.
There is a different type of self-examination. St. Ignatius of Loyola is generally considered to be the go-to resource for Christian self-examination. He wrote an entire prayer book on the practice. In many ways, you can sum up what he said with this quote.
I think self-examination is a practice we all need to take on and it is easier than we think. I want to share with you a little about why it matters and how easy it is to add it into your life.
Let’s talk about the power of self-examination
Self-examination matters because it is one of the ways we get into the critical issues of the heart. It means taking responsibility for “the self”. The Self is the critical part of our hearts where free will and response are worked out. Taming The Self is an act of sanctification. It is the mode (post-justification) where we are willingly giving ourselves up to God, allowing the tough work to be done by the Holy Spirit and creating a transformed heart.
Two things are happening when we take responsibility for The Self.
1. We are taking responsibility for the inward AND outward act of submission to Jesus
2. We are participating in the transforming life of God in the world. Our story then is added to the story of the world.
The easiest way to begin self-examination is asking ourselves tough questions. As a Wesleyan, it’s part of my own DNA. I wrote about this process of tough questions here | Beatles or Stones: Asking Ourselves the Tough Questions |.
Lately, I have been asking myself the same question every morning for a couple of weeks. It lets me really marinate it all in and get honest. It is interesting how my answer gets deeper and deeper every morning. I find myself growing tremendously inside and really changing my outward actions.
Here is my current question.
How have I contributed to the person I am today?
This question lets me spread things out wide. I can think both positive and negative. I can take personal responsibility for my sinfulness and how I sometimes act out and respond from broken places. I can also look at how the hard work of sanctification has been playing out and recreating me into the image of Christ.
I challenge you to think of the tough questions you need to be asking yourself. It will be worth it. Trust me.