I have often heard that before I can care for others, I must care for myself. Another way of looking at this is that I can’t give to others what I don’t have myself. If I am to minister to others and lead them to a relationship with Christ, it is essential that I take time for my own relationship with Him.
A few weeks ago my colleague Abby Kibler wrote about the importance of our own conversion through daily prayer. I tell young people I work with that I take time to pray when I wake up, at mid-day, and before going to bed. They often reply: “Okay, great, but where do I begin?” I always share with them a few things that are hopefully helpful.
First, in the morning and afternoon I usually follow ACTS – Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. A good description of this method can be found in this Catholic Review article. And I like to end the day with the “Daily Examen”, an Ignatian exercise that allows me to review the day with God and look forward to tomorrow. A short guide on how to pray the Daily Examen can be found here.
Second, I find very helpful Small Faith Sharing Groups. Each week my wife and I get together with a group of other couples from our parish to discuss the readings from that Sunday. It helps us to break open God’s Word and reflect on our hopes and struggles as we try to live it out in our everyday lives. Churches starting small groups in our area have been using resources like ChristLife, Alpha, and Renew, as well as developing their own resources.
Third, spiritual direction has become essential for me. I meet about once a month with my director and it always starts with the question: “So what’s going on between you and God?” It’s great to have a companion to support me as I struggle with familiar obstacles and areas of disconnect between what I believe and what I sometimes live and think and feel. My director helps me develop a sensitivity to the way God works in the world, in my life, my work, and my relationships. Spiritual direction helps me to discern directions to take in my life and take new steps and to live more faithfully and deepen my relationship with God.
These are just a few of the ways that I care for myself by making time for my most important of relationships.
How do you take time to care for yourself and connect with God, and how can you help guide others in doing the same?