"It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, 'Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?' . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one's time--the stuff of life." ~ Carl Sandburg
When was the last time you did deep self-reflection? How much thought have you given to who you are and where you are going?
Self-reflection allows us to become more aware of ourselves and our surroundings. It's a little like looking at a shopping mall directory, searching for the "You are here." We need to take a moment to accurately identify where we are and where we want to be going.
Without self-reflection, we become disconnected from ourselves, God, and others. We get lost and diverted from our vision and purposes. The opposite is true as well. When we are dialed into ourselves, we are more likely to be living with a clear sense of direction.
Jesus experienced this early in his ministry. In Mark 1, after a busy day filled with ministry tasks, he takes time in the morning to be alone and pray. He experiences quiet reflection, and after that, has a renewed sense of direction.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. ~ Mark 1:35
In self-reflection, we allow our hearts and minds to think and process. We pay attention to the things beneath the surface of our lives - our feelings, questions, frustrations. When we make space for self-reflection, there we discover authentic connection to our souls and to God.
While self-reflection may be a good thing to do, we don't always do it. Why? Because self-reflection is important, but it isn't usually urgent. We generally have a list of daily tasks and responsibilities to accomplish, like fill the gas tank or email the boss. Where does self-reflection fit in? Like any important but less urgent activity, self-reflection takes intention. It is something we choose to create time for because we believe that it is worth our effort and beneficial to our well-being.
Make space today for self-reflection, friend. Take some quiet, undisturbed time to thoughtfully respond to the reflection questions below. Allow yourself freedom to listen to your soul's longings without judgement or self-editing. Give yourself the gift of self-reflection.
6 Questions for Self-Reflection
1. In a few words or phrases, describe how you are presently doing.
2. How have you experienced God lately?
3. What has been life-giving? What has been life-draining?
4. What things are presently occupying your mind and heart?
5. For each section of the circle diagram below, consider how fulfilled you feel in that area. Draw a dot in between the center of the circle and the outer circle to represent the amount you feel fulfilled in that area, with the center representing 0% and the outer edge representing 100%. Connect each of the dots to create a shape - most likely it is a starburst. As you look at the shape on the diagram, what are your thoughts and insights?
6. What are the hopes and desires you want to bring to God?
Do you have any thoughts or questions? Please share them in the comments.
Larissa Marks is a spiritual director, ministry planter, and Director of Spiritual Formation at Bluewater Mission Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is the creator of Spiritual Journey. Sign up for her weekly Spiritual Journey notes for guidance sent to your inbox. You can also find her at her personal blog The Larissa Monologues. She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii with her husband and three kids.