A direct comparison with Jesus would be unhelpful for obvious reasons — we’re not going to measure up. But, hope is found in thinking, “I like the way Jesus walked the talk.” In this way, a comparison is healthy.
Jesus embodied love in all aspects of his life: He was dependent on the Holy Spirit for guidance, made prayer and God’s word central, praised God in every area of life, obeyed (listened) to God, and modeled intentional relationships of love throughout his life. Following His way moves us in the same direction. We can find inspiration today from His journey then.
No other person has lived your life and we each have a unique blend of personality and experiences. We are not meant to be anyone else. When we constantly compare ourselves to others we lose track of our own journey, who we are, who God calls us to be. Constructive, honest self-reflection allows us to look at our life for meaning and movement. Self-reflection helps us not be completely oblivious to our faults and find ways to deal with situations in a positive way instead of letting them consume us. It is a self-imposed process by which we bring our attention to what’s happening in our lives and within us in a healthy, mindful and open-minded way.
Comparison appears to come naturally and is integral to our growth, but it is important to compare ourselves from a healthy vantage point. Healthy comparison helps us learn and move forward.
Especially during Lent, as we reflect on the life of Jesus in loving comparison to our own, the impact can be transformative. Year by year, with God’s help, understanding ourselves — our motives, our thoughts, our beliefs — can move us from what-if to problem-solving thinking, from uncertainty to perspective, from apathy to action. Through self-reflection we make sense of things, discover answers, challenge our thoughts, inspire self-acceptance and live with more intention. Reflection isn’t finished until we have movement.
It would be pointless and unrealistic to compare ourselves to the master when we’re beginners. We want to embody the teachings of Jesus in body, mind, and soul, and it’s frustrating when we don’t. But challenges arise when pursuing something we value.
Can self-reflection become part of your everyday routine?
Formation is a life-long experience. One way to intentionally begin is through a process known as the Daily Examen. You need nothing more than quiet, uninterrupted space. When getting started, you might find a guided examen available as streaming audio or podcasts helpful.
How To Do It
- Invite God. Find a private space, and get comfortable. Invite God to guide you in remembering your day. Whatever your day has held, know that God’s love attends you as you look back.
- Notice the gifts. As you review the morning, afternoon, and evening, notice moments of love and grace. Give thanks for the many gifts that you received, as well as the gifts that you shared. These don’t have to be big, dramatic gifts – you may notice simple moments that feel peaceful, joyous, or comforting.
- Notice the sins. Reflect on the times throughout the day when you made choices you regret, or sinned by things ‘left undone.’
- Look to tomorrow. Ask for more of God’s light in the following day. Pray for God’s help in making different choices tomorrow. End your time by giving thanks for God’s presence throughout the examen practice that you just completed.