Psalm 26: 2 (The Voice)
Put me on trial and examine me, O Eternal One!
Search me through and through—from my deepest longings to every thought that crosses my mind.
A Word of Hope
I don’t know if you are like me, but I have had way too much time for self-reflection and introspection during these extended months of social isolation. Weird right? I mean, aren’t we supposed to devote time to understanding ourselves? Isn’t self-examination a healthy exercise? Maybe even rising to the level of a spiritual discipline. Indeed, in today’s lectionary reading the poet tells us in the 26th Psalm to examine our deepest longings and our most fleeting thoughts.
Well, I am over it. I am tired of the contemplation. It is getting excessive, self-indulgent. Navel-gazing may be the apt description. It is too easy to become the center of my own little universe. Previously I shared a popular meme that again comes to mind: “When the center of the universe is discovered, a lot of people will be surprised they are not it.” When we are so focused on ourselves it is difficult to pay attention to the suffering, needs, and dire circumstances of the world around us.
Don’t get me wrong: we should be self-aware. We should understand ourselves, our motivations, our dreams, and our purpose. To grow and change we have to be honest with ourselves. The honesty that comes from an unvarnished examination. Mystics have long practiced looking inward to find God. Indeed, the author of Psalm 139 (some traditions attribute it to Adam, not David) writes “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.”
So, how do I strike the balance between self-awareness and self-centeredness? How do I meet my own needs while meeting the needs of the world around me? Here is my answer: I don’t know. I don’t, ok. I struggle with the push and pull every day. I stumble my way through.
The best I can do is live the poet’s advice in verse 3: Never lose sight of God’s love, keep in step, and never miss a beat.
God of my being. I am tired of looking at my belly button. Lift my eyes to the heavens.