A friend introduced me to Father Jack. He grew up in Brooklyn and taught religion for decades at a local school. His voice still carries the New York City accent reminding me of my grandparents.
Our conversations cause a pause in my life to identify where Jesus is at work in me. Father Jack’s often graciousness, combined with City bluntness, offers a refreshing outside perspective.
The last time we met, I began to share with him observations about my motivations. I felt as though I had pure motives, but I could sense some areas of unhealthy intentions.
As the conversation wandered, he stopped me and said, “That’s too, Ignatian.”
He began to explain that the Ignatian tradition invites us to delve into our hearts and intention, but the side effect results in too much introspection.
“Sometimes, you need to do what you feel, God asking you to do. You will drive yourself crazy, trying to decipher through your imperfect motives.” Jack said to me.
Yes, the gospel shines a light on our motives and intentions, but too much introspection releases us from the freedom Jesus invites us to experience.
Consider Psalm 139:1 — “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.”
I wonder if we put too much stock in our introspection rather than resting in God’s grace to search us. Living in a constant state of introspection can halt us from doing what Jesus has called us to do.
Another influence in my life, Pastor Piedmonte from my home church in Binghamton, said, “If you’re trying to find God’s will, you won’t miss it.”
Some of us have a proclivity to the bad news about the gospel, which includes our sinfulness. Remembering Jesus’ grace opens us to freedom. I don’t think it’s God’s will for us to second guess each step.
Instead, I wonder if faith in Jesus requires us to step out in following His still soft voice rather than navel-gazing inside the complexities of our intentions.
True, we have blind spots, and others of us will need more examination of our motives. Too much introspection places more focus on ourselves rather than the work of Jesus in us and others.
What would happen today if you re-focused on what you believed Jesus asked you to do rather than over-inspecting your motives? You might discover a freedom in the gospel you never experienced before.