A friend recently invited the kids and me on a play date. It was one of those weeks where I had been feeling like “the bug,” so I was especially elated to receive and accept her invitation. Turns out she was feeling rather buggy, too, so our time together lifted both our spirits. Oh yeah, the kids were happy, too!
Do you remember the song “The Bug” recorded by Dire Straits, remade by Mary-Chapin Carpenter? It’s very cleverly written. And there’s one lyric line that becomes my mantra when I’m having one of those days.
Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug.
On windshield days, you’re king of the world. Life is neat and organized. It’s a good hair day — multiplied by 10. And on bug days? Watch out. With every move you make, you feel splattered to pieces.
Every day has its roller coaster of ups and downs. How do you get through those days when completing even the tiniest of tasks feels like an accomplishment equivalent to hiking up Mount Everest? Culture encourages you to simply forget about it. Move on. Tomorrow is another day.
Easier said than done. More important, if you simply move on without taking time to reflect, you may miss a golden opportunity for spiritual growth. Even the lousiest of days can be spiritually productive. Here’s something to help you get there.
Pray a daily examination of conscience.
The Church has handed down an ancient prayer called the Daily Examen that comes from St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. It’s a way to prayerfully reflect on the events of the day. A way to give thanks for all the graces that have come your way. An opportunity to reflect on ways you could have done better. The prayer contains five steps and requires around 10-15 minutes to complete. Here it is:
St. Ignatius’ General Examination of Conscience
Step 1: Give thanks to God for the favors received
Step 2: Ask for grace to know your sins
Step 3: Examine how you have lived this day
Step 4: Ask forgiveness for your faults
Step 5: Resolve to amend with the grace of God
Some pray the examen twice a day — once at noon and then again at the end of the day. Twice a day may be too intimating for you, so just pray it at the end of your day. And once you develop the habit of praying it daily, don’t let go of it. There’s divine power in it. A friend once told me that adding the Daily Examen was key in helping him get out of a particularly dry spiritual time.
Want to keep your spiritual life from being dictated by buggy days? Want to get off the spiritual roller coaster? Try adding a daily examination of conscience. And it might be the best way to snap out of a funk when a friend isn’t around to help you get there.
Question: What spiritual practices help you get through the “buggy” days?