In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus uses a phrase that caught my attention. After the younger son had squandered his inheritance and was left feeding pigs to get by, Jesus says, “he came to his senses” (NIV). In the original Greek, it literally says, “he came to himself.” I wonder how long he spent in the pigpen before he “came to himself.” Was it days, weeks, months? Coming to oneself is a good description of reflection. Given that this blog is entitled “Reflections,” you know that I am a big believer in the value of reflection. I start every day with a time of reflection in the form of journaling. Sometimes it is very brief, other times my reflection ends up being a deep dive into some thought, previous day’s event, or issue.
This parable offers another use for reflection. When we are stuck, mired in our own pigpens, it is time to come to ourselves, to reflect. I am amazed how often I will go a long time doing the same stuck thing without stepping back, out of the mud, and reflecting on the path forward. Until we come to ourselves, usually nothing will change. Intentional, focused reflection will often bring surprising clarity.
Even when life is clicking on all cylinders, we have stuck places – sometimes small, other times debilitating. Reflection is often the first step out of the mire and onto the firm path. The really big win is when we build the habit of reflection, in our work, our relationships, our personal life, our spiritual life – as a growth rhythm. The habit of reflection keeps us from wallowing too long in the mud.
Where do you need to “come to yourself?”