I’ve been savoring lately. It seems appropriate to the season. What am I savoring? God’s love!
To savor God’s love, we must experience it. My personal passion and the foundational message of my ministry has to do with experiencing the love of God, because I believe this is the key to the spiritual journey—the doorway to a deeper connection with God and to spiritual growth, healing, and transformation. We spend a lot of time thinking and talking about God and God’s love and far less time experiencing it.
We spend a lot of time thinking and talking about God and God’s love and far less time experiencing it.
Brain science supports the idea that it is experience, not information, that transforms us. Truth must move from factual knowledge to experiential knowledge, which requires the integration of both sides of the brain—the left side, which houses logic and reason, and the right side, which houses experience, emotion, sensations, and belief. (Though talking about the "left" and "right" side of the brain is more of an analogy, it's a helpful one.) We might say that information or knowledge about God is the foundation of our faith, but experience is what builds upon that foundation to create a safe, secure, and enjoyable relationship with God. We stand upon the foundation, but we dwell in the everyday experiences of life. Experience, then, is how we get to know God personally and intimately and come to feel loved by God.
I love a little brain science. Recently I learned that it takes the amygdala 20 seconds to register a positive experience but only a fourth of a second to register a negative one. No wonder we get stuck in negative thought patterns, because our human tendency is to focus on what’s wrong in a situation while overlooking or downplaying what’s right or good. We’re more accustomed to "sitting in" negative moments than we are to savoring positive ones.
The good news is that with awareness of this tendency, we can choose to be more intentional about savoring God’s gifts of love, remembering that God is love (1 John 4:16) and the giver of every good gift (James 1:17). As we do this, we are experiencing God’s love—not a generic love but a very personal love expressed in the details of our everyday lives.
How do we savor God’s love? It’s really very simple. First, we become aware of an experience of love—a loving moment or gift of love—and then we take it in with all our senses for at least 20 seconds (or longer). This allows our brain to register and integrate it as part of our lived experience—which drives what we truly believe and live from, not what we say we believe. An experience of love might be a moment when we feel loved; experience joy, delight, or wonder; feel seen and known; sense God’s presence; or feel gratitude for something we’re experiencing or observing in the present moment. It might be as simple as delighting in a warm beverage or favorite food, appreciating something beautiful in nature, receiving a warm hug or encouraging text, cuddling your pet, enjoying a moment with friends or family, meditating on a scripture verse that touches your heart, being moved by a song or piece of art, or a million other ordinary things. The idea is to experience and savor these moments as personal love gifts from God—which they are.
Here’s the cool part: We can savor the moment not only as it’s happening but any time afterward by remembering and rehearsing it, which enables us to experience it all over again. Each time we rehearse God’s love gifts in this way, we’re creating new neural pathways in our brain, helping us to break free from negative thought patterns and false messages we’ve believed about God and ourselves. The more we experience God’s love and feel loved by God, the more we’re able to “live loved”—to love ourselves and others as we have been loved by God.
The more we experience God’s love and feel loved by God, the more we’re able to “live loved.”
That’s why I love the Daily Examen, which is a simple practice of reviewing our day and rehearsing the loving moments, letting them live again in us. (We also can allow the not-so-loving moments to surface, talking honestly with God about them. This helps us process unpleasant moments and experience God’s love as we feel seen, known, and loved just as we are.) The Examen is one of the spiritual practices I recommend most often because it’s a simple and effective way to open our eyes to the many ways God is actively loving us in the details of our lives. This, in turn, fuels our gratitude and our own loving responses—to God and others.
This month I’ve been doing a public “November Examen,” savoring and sharing one love gift each day. Even though it’s already the middle of the month, I encourage you to join me. You might even want to make this a practice you do through the end of the year, helping you keep your focus on the meaning of the season as you savor God’s love in every good gift. You just might find it so beneficial that you decide to make it an ongoing practice. I hope you will, because my heart’s desire for you is that you would come to experience God’s love more and more.
In the words of the apostle Paul, this is my prayer for you: “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (Ephesians 3:19 NLT).
Hi, I'm Sally!
I'm passionate about connecting with God and connecting with people, offering spiritual encouragement and companionship. I'm so grateful to be on the journey with you as we walk with God together.