You may have heard experience is the best teacher, but actually, evaluated experience is what changes you.
in the book Come Back by Roger Ross, he lists the flow from a fall to a comeback. These five stages are outlined in his book, but the remedy for the first one is evaluated experience and listening to your emotions.
Most of us are not all that aware of the emotions within us and as a result, they can drive us not only to a fall, but can also keep us stuck in a fall we’ve already experienced. We need to learn to listen to our emotions, as the book teaches, without letting them control us.
We used Come Back for a messages series at our church this fall and it was an awesome fit! Small groups and band meetings read and discussed the book.
This idea of listening to our emotions and evaluating experience takes time and here are four keys to allowing it to happen well.
Time is a really crucial element to introspection. There have been times when I have been so busy that I lost the moments to reflect on what I’ve done, or worse, anticipate what is coming up. I just go from one thing to the next without hardly thinking. Sabbath is a fire break in that way. It creates a rhythm that allows us to slow down enough to look at our hearts, our lives, our experiences and emotions and do some evaluating. As Jesus says, the Sabbath was made for you, not you for the Sabbath. Invest part of the time each week to look deeper.
This may depend on where you lean on the extroverted/introverted scale, but conversations with others who care about you can make a difference in how to evaluate your experience and emotions. Talking with others helps you clarify. And even if you’re not the one doing the talking – just listening to another person is a process to begin to pinpoint some of your own reflections.
For many people writing down inner thoughts and emotions can be part of the process. As you write, you begin to gain clarity about how God can use your experiences and shape you as a person. I have been journaling for years and it has truly become a place to evaluate my experience and emotions. It helps me put things into perspective and take an objective look. It’s also interesting and helpful at times to look back and see where I’ve been and how far things have come. It doesn’t matter too much how you journal – typing it, writing in a notebook, every day or once a week, it’s really more about slowing down to process what is going on inside.
Prayer and Meditation
Prayer is an important part of evaluating where you are. Even when you’re not sure what to pray the spirit intercedes. But as you pray, God begins to work in you, revealing those places where you need to change. Meditating on scripture does some of the same things – it allows you to line your ever changing emotions up with something that won’t ever change. It’s a comfort.
How are you evaluating your experiences? How are you uncovering and allowing God to help you learn from your emotions? This is a great time of year – toward the end of an extremely crazy year! – to look deeper and evaluate. It’s the beginning. You’re setting the stage for a comeback!