In the fall of 2014, I was going through a book entitled Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to a Well Ordered Way by Steve Macchia. As one of the steps to create a rule of life, Steve invited us to review the primary relationships in our life: assessing the priority we give them, the health of the relationship, any problems, etc. I realized that there was a significant lack of whole hearted devotion to these dear friends, family members and even acquaintances. I didn’t spend much time thinking about them. I realized that I didn’t treasure each person I met. I knew that something needed to change in the way I related to those around me.
But Mary treasured and pondered all these things in her heart. Luke 2:19
I was struck by the phrase “treasured … all these things.” This included the people, the events and God’s word to Mary, the mother of Jesus. I asked the congregation the question: “How can we learn to treasure and ponder all these things in our hearts?” All of the people, events, and circumstances that God brings into our lives. This question continued to burn in my heart until one day in January a friend told me that he was going to begin to practice a prayer of examen each night before going to bed: asking God to help him reflect on the events of the day, to see places he had failed and where he had followed God’s leading. I knew that I wanted to learn to more fully treasure the people in my life and the activities of my day. So we agreed to enter into our separate and distinct disciplines while keeping each other accountable for the process. I developed a new Spiritual Discipline that I call Treasuring. It has been so helpful that I hope to use this discipline for the rest of my life.
I obtained a treasuring journal. You could just use your prayer journal but I chose to make this journal separate. I begin each time of Treasuring by writing down the names of each individual with whom I had any reasonably significant personal interaction in the past 24 hours. Generally, I don’t write down the “Hi. How are you?” kinds of interactions. I write down those interactions where I had some meaningful exchange. This is not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes I will write down the name of someone I didn’t talk to or barely said two words if there is something that piques my interest. The interaction can be face to face or can be over the phone.
Next, I write down the events and activities of the past 24 hours that I have been engaged in. Generally these are very broad categories and not minutely specific.
Once I have the names and activities, I first spend a little bit of time on each name. The ABC’s of treasuring are Attending, Blessing and Confession (although my normal order is ACB):
Attending: Attend to what your body and your mind are saying to you when you come to their name.
- Place your hand on your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the moment of the day when you interacted with each person.
- Are there any positive or negative feelings?
- How is my body reacting to this name?
- Are there any tugs to do anything?
- Any hooks in me? Things that stick
Attend to what the Holy Spirit is saying.
- How did I treasure this person today? In what way did I not treasure them?
- Did I wrong this person in any way?
- Was anything I said untrue or did I use a half truth?
- Do I have any wrong attitudes toward them or any wrong affections toward them?
- How can I treasure them more?
- Where did I give or receive love from this person? How did I withhold love from this person?
Write down what you are experiencing and hearing.
Blessing: Pray all or part of the blessing of Numbers 6:24-26. (Lord bless them and keep them. Lord make Your face to shine on them and be gracious to them. Lord lift up your countenance upon them and give them peace.) If appropriate place your fingers on the name of the person as you pray this prayer of blessing. Most of the time I do this over the entire list. Sometimes, as I feel led, I will concentrate this blessing on just one or two names. Then I will pray the blessing over the rest as a group.
Confessing: Confess your failure to treasure the person and ask God to change you / to soften your heart / to be able to treasure this person.
My discipline here is quite simple. I list the activities of the previous day. I reflect upon where my heart was at during the activity. Was I treasuring this activity as something I am doing with God. Was I even aware of His presence during the activity? Generally the answer to this question is no. I ask Jesus to help me treasure each of these activities as a time in my day when I get to keep in step with His Spirit. (Galatians 5:25) To walk with Him. Then I ask Jesus to change my awareness of Him in all my activities for today.
This is a major new spiritual discipline for me. It takes a significant time. I spend from 10-15 minutes each day with this. My goal is to begin to treasure each person and each activity in the moment. I believe that God and I are doing this together. I sense His presence as we do this. I also can see some positive changes taking place in my thoughts and actions towards other people . You do need to be aware when you are just rushing through the steps. Occasionally treasuring becomes a checkbox in my day. Been there. Done that. Usually no treasuring happens then.
Why not try it for a week and see what God does in your heart?