Materials needed: pen or pencil and paper; ruler
Before beginning this exercise, take a few moments to be still and sense the presence of God with you. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through this activity and reveal what he wants you to know.
Connecting childhood interests to your adult life
In this exercise you will be tracing the history of your interests and passions; consider the following questions:
- What did you enjoy doing as a child?
- Do some of those loves continue into adulthood? How do they manifest themselves now?
- Are there things you did as a child that were abandoned when you became an adult? Would you be interested in doing those things again?
- How does tracing your history reveal who you are?
- Do you recognize an interest that you thought had died but perhaps instead had been kept alive in some other way?
- Do you sense something in you that was kept for safekeeping to be used at a later time? What is that interest? How has it been manifested in your life?
Offer these questions in prayer to God, asking for his guidance.
Next, on a piece of paper positioned horizontally, take a ruler and draw a straight line across the paper; this will be your timeline. Think back over times in your life that you consider important, even if it is a small thing. Draw a notch on your timeline and attach an age to it; for example: “at age 5 I loved playing in the rain.” Don’t analyze or think too hard about this part of exercise but rather put down any incidents that pop into your mind. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers. If you need to extend your timeline because you run out of room, simply draw another line underneath and continue the exercise.
Once you have filled your timeline, go back over each incident with the above questions as your guide; write your impressions. Once done, can you see any kind of common thread or narrative to your timeline? If you can, write a short story of your life citing each incident on your timeline and see what that story reveals to you.
If you cannot see the narrative, talk to God and offer each incident up to him and ask for the guidance to see the connections between each of those times in your life. Reflect carefully on each incident. If the answer doesn’t come right away, put away the exercise and ask God to reveal what he wishes you to know in his good time. Keep the exercise in a place where you can easily find it and if you feel an urge to look at it again, it is likely God wishes to tell you something. It may be necessary to do this exercise in starts and stops as God reveals things to you.
copyright 2015 Susan W. Bailey;
from Chapter 5 of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times,
published by Ave Maria Press