Thank You for 2016: A Yearly Examen

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A year ago, just as my cousin Jango and I were checking out of Sprouts, I heard his and the cashier’s conversation. I don’t quite remember how it went word for word, but thankfully, I got the essence right. The lady said something about being able to start over not in the new year only but in every day we get to live.

While I do agree with that sentiment, it is also good to have our own prayers and hopes for how we will spend our next year. Likewise, it is a need for us to go back to the past 12 months and reflect on what we went through and how we carried ourselves over to this last day of 2016.

St. Ignatius of Loyola taught us the Daily Examen, but having read this article from Aleteia.org on trying out a “Yearly Examen,” it may be a spiritual exercise to consider doing. This has been a busy year for me, and I spent many months not being able to write or reflect deeply on the events around me and issues within.

For this yearly reflection, I want to share how to do the Yearly Examen as stated in the above-mentioned article:

  1. After placing yourself in God’s presence, first give thanks to God for all the many blessings received during the past year. Pass through each month, remembering the blessings that occurred.
  2. Pray for the grace to understand God’s divine providence.
  3. Next, review each month again and take notice of any feelings or movements that occur in your heart while doing this activity. Whatever you may feel (whether it was a good feeling or bad feeling), ask God to help you understand why an event happened.
  4. Fourth, ask pardon for any sins you committed, trusting fully in God’s mercy.
  5. Last of all look forward to the New Year think of ways that you can collaborate more with God’s loving plan for your life. (Article written by Philip Kosloski from Aleteia.org)

Giving Thanks

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There has been an abundance of blessings for 2016, and I’d like to think of blessings as not just what we receive but also moments we got to experience more of God, love, and communion. He was present in all the months and the relationships I kept with my family, friends, colleagues, and superiors.

We have been blessed with opportunities to grow more as a family and in my Mom’s business too. I think too that this year was when I felt the most fulfilled in my job, being able to work with the incredible teammates on big and small projects and learn so much from them.

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It was a good year for creating art as well – I’ve been learning more about watercolor and illustration, and the highlight too is being able to apply and be a part of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan! I’m happy too for my cousin Kuya Alvin and Ate Katiya’s wedding and marriage, my cousins who gave birth to their children this year, and for my cousins who broke the news that they’ll be having children too next year!

I’m grateful for the lessons too in every day that I got to live. Mostly, the things God taught me about this 2016 through the people in my life were taking responsibility, making sacrifices, never passing on stress or frustration to somebody else, being thankful, being accountable for my actions and my team’s as well at work, being a team player, putting integrity in everything we do, taking care of our health so we can take care of others, and putting more importance on the quality of our relationships with people more.

There are just so many things to be thankful for, not just to God but for others as well. I’ve grown closer to my Mom and Dad, my family, my friends, and my colleagues and superiors.

Understanding God’s Divine Providence

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He was there when my teammates and I at work or my Mom and Dad in our own relationships and plans needed fuel to accomplish tasks, thus giving us sustenance to get us through the year.

He was there when I asked for growth and maturity, thus giving me opportunities to grow and mature in the form of challenges at work and in my personal life.

He was there when I felt drained or unmotivated, thus giving me hope in the form of my family, friends, colleagues, and people I look up to who write to share their insights and knowledge to others.

He was there when I felt lost or unsure of the steps I needed to take to move forward, thus giving me guidance in making big or small decisions.

He was there when I combated episodes of doubt, fear, insecurities, envy, anxieties, panic, and stress, thus giving me comfort.

He was there when I found myself puzzled at how the world grew dark due to crises here in the Philippines and abroad, thus giving me wisdom to seek His truth and light in His Word.

He was there when I felt unappreciated or unworthy, thus giving me His love through Jesus, the people I love, my closest friends, newfound friends, my colleagues and superiors at a company I love, and our ever so chubby and lovely pets.

Feelings during Events

My year has been marked with special events, and in these special events, I remember the feelings in my heart. Like any other year, it is always a mix of the positive and the negative. With the positive feelings, I am guided that what I was doing at the time meant a lot of to me and the people I was with. With the negative feelings, they either came from how I interpreted one event or how an external factor made me feel.

Feelings have taught me what to pray to God about, and they have served as guidance rather than the primary basis of decisions. For the times I felt fear or envy or stress, maybe God was teaching me more about trust, His love and affirmation of me and others, and a chance to overcome the tests before us.

Sins and Mistakes Committed

There are times when I wished I acted better than what I felt, said things more politely than fueled by pressure, and worked harder than ever. I am thankful for God, my parents, and my colleagues and superiors for imparting wisdom, guidance, and correction whenever I needed it.

And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, or lose heart when He rebukes you. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.” Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? – Hebrews 12:5-7

It’s difficult to take them in with pride in our hearts and a stubborn knowledge that we think we know everything, so I pray that we be grateful for the discipline we receive and to apply them wholeheartedly for our betterment. Without these lovingly made corrections, I would continue to think that I have learned all I needed to know when in fact, there is very little or nothing that I can boast of knowing or mastering.

Collaborating More with God’s Plan in 2017

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I’m bad with having one word for a year. The last time I did that was… I think I have forgotten what the word was when the second half of the year strolled by. Also, I think that there are as many good words that come and go and teach in every month in the year.

But this word has been in my mind for quite a few days. Rather for it to serve as my goal in 2017, I pray that I become this word in every day I live, not just in the next year but always.

I hope and pray to be grounded.

“I pray that out of the riches of His glory, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”Ephesians 3: 16-19

Although as a child, it would mean not being able to watch TV or play. Today, however, it has different meanings altogether:

To be grounded is to let go of pride and anything that could lead us to fostering it.

To be grounded is to keep my heart, mind, and feet planted on the basics, on good manners, on values, on the foundation, on good will, on the truth, and on God’s love for us and His children.

To be grounded is to remember where we came from and how we grew.

To be grounded is to have our roots grow deeper under the ground, helping us stay strong despite the many trials in life.

To be grounded is to live the virtues we have been taught.

To be grounded is to be firmly rooted in what is, and that is God’s Word.

To be grounded does not mean we cannot fly but rather, we are allowed to fly because we are grounded on what is truly essential instead of what is fleeting. This year too, I’ve realized more of what I think God calls me to do, but I am reminded that we must not chase dreams but what is eternal.

It’s easy to focus on just our dreams but what of other people’s dreams and hopes? It’s easy to romanticize the idea of doing what you love and chasing the dream but what of the sacrifices, hard work, extra efforts, and prayers you have to put in? It’s easy to claim our dreams, but when we forget God and the people who have taught us in the first place how to live and work well, the dream is not that too appealing to chase anymore.

In the chase of what is eternal, of what is love, that’s when we meet dreams along the way and other good things. We find the courage to dream bigger than us, do the necessary hard work to achieve that for us and for others, and passing on the things we’ve learned to the ones next in line.

In helping out little by little with God’s plan, I pray that I be grounded in knowing and loving Him and my neighbor more, in working harder more, in growing my relationship with Him and others more, in sharing the things I have learned to others, in doing what He calls me to do, and in cultivating and applying the values that my family, friends, and colleagues have taught me in everything I will do.

Thank you, Lord, for 2016. Here’s to another year, here’s to 2017.

May we have the courage to be kind, to be forgiving, to be loving.

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