Three Habits of a Reflective Life

By: Elder David Leong

People like us in busy Singapore often live frantic and frenetic lives, running from activity to activity and from place to place. Ask any person you know and you can be quite sure that nine out of ten times, you are likely to hear that the other person is tired and hasn’t enough rest. Our plates are full and I’m not just referring to the buffet plate! O how we treasure and long for the weekend only to be disappointed at the speed that it passes by…sigh!

I guess living reflectively is something which not many of us practise. Most of the time we simply move mindlessly from task to task with hardly any breathing space. But being reflective in life is something important for all of us and especially so, those of us who call ourselves the people of God. Why?

In the words of Gire, “the reflective life is a way of living that heightens our spiritual senses to all that is sacred.” And Scripture (the Word of God) is one of those sacred things. So is also the everyday moments where we sense God speaking to us, through events, through people, through circumstances, or even through thoughts that He plants in our minds, things that He places in our hearts. It is therefore not wrong to say that much of what is scared is hidden in the ordinary moments of our lives.

If we fail to slow down to see what is sacred and to appreciate these moments, we are likely to miss the divine encounters, the moments with our Father God.

To reflect is basically for us to bend backwards, taking the cue from its Latin roots, re (back) and flecterre (to bend). So a mirror bends back our image to us when it reflects. Living reflectively provides the opportunities during each day for us to look a little closer at things, at people, at ourselves, and at God.

So for people like us who don’t have the habit to savor life and to reflect on things, on people, on ourselves or of what God may be saying to us, we really need to cultivate habits to help us reflect.

Gire provides three helpful habits of the heart that can aid us towards a more reflective life.

  • reading the moment – using our eyes to see what’s on the surface
  • reflecting on the moment – engaging our mind to see what is beneath the surface
  • responding to the moment – giving what we have seen a place to live in our heart, allowing it to grow there, upwards to God and outwards to others.

Application of habits to God’s Word

He goes on to apply these habits to the reading and studying of God’s Word in the following analogy:

To read the Word without reflecting on it is like sitting at a table where a sumptuous meal has been prepared and eyeing all the food but never eating. To reflect on the Word without prayerfully responding is like chewing the food but never swallowing. The way we are nourished spiritually is similar to the way we are nourished physically. First we sit at the table and cut off a bite of food, then we chew it, then we swallow it so that bite by bite the meal can be digested and assimilated. That is not only the natural process for our spiritual nourishment, it is the essential process.

Application of habits to moments and circumstances in our lives

It is no secret that God not only speaks to us through the Word. He also speaks through the moments and circumstances in our lives.

We who live in Singapore have our plates filled full with all sorts of good things. In terms of the material, many of us don’t lack. In fact, we often have excess, hugely more than what some who live in the poorer parts of the world may have. But with so many things to see, have and possess, are we living more fulfilled lives? Are we satisfied? If so, why do we then envy others or crave for more?

Sometimes life is like a eat-all-you-can buffet. We pile our plates high gleefully taking in more as we eye the delicious mouth-watering delicacies. But by the time we finish eating what we have stacked up, we suddenly feel bloated and everything seems to lose its appeal.

As the saying goes, sometimes less is more. Not piling our plate and taking in only what we know we can eat often gives us a more satisfying meal. We probably cannot savor anything if we stuffed. And if we are heaping serving after serving onto our daily schedule, by the end of the day, we are never going to want to “eat” again!

Putting pauses into our schedule therefore allows us to savor the individual “servings” in our day. When we have less “servings” per day, we can then reflect on the moments that God may be speaking to us, take heed of them and obey.

May God grant me and us, the desire (and determination) to cultivate the habits of a reflective life so that I (we) can be a better child (children) of His in terms of listening to Him through His Word and through the circumstances in life.

Thoughts inspired by – Ken Gire, Seeing What is Sacred (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006)

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One Response to Three Habits of a Reflective Life

  1. janet ag28 says:

    well said. I resonate with the thoughts expressed. Thank you for sharing.

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