Soul Care begins with change; the kind of change that reflects genuine care of the soul and respect for the real you. Do you ever feel chained up by the way you live? In big and small ways we can unknowingly and unwisely live false lives by mindlessly ignoring the needs of our soul. We do this when we live hurried, stressed and without rest. We do this when we live driven to achieve, meet demands and people please. We do this when we live enslaved to limitless schedules, without healthy rhythm, quiet or stillness. We do this when we lack the enjoyment of companions, connection and fun. Simply put…we live false lives when we live in a way we were not made to live. Over time this way of living leads to neglect, bareness and serious deprivation of our soul. In this condition we cannot live, love or lead well.
When you think about living, loving and leading from a healthy soul what picture comes to mind? Is it vastly different from your current way of living? Have you ever considered what the state of your soul health would be one year from now if you continue to live the same way you are currently living? Will you make gains; will your soul health improve? Or will you become worn out and burned out on life?
SOUL CARE EVALUATION
The care of the soul was taught and modeled by Jesus. In Scripture, we see his rhythmic way of tending to his soul by both engaging and disengaging in ministry; by the practice of silence and solitude to meet with God; and in living with spiritual companions in a genuine faith community. (Read the Gospel of Mark) Jesus’ way of doing life reflected a deep knowledge of the value of his soul and the importance of soul care. For people of faith, Jesus’ way is a sacred way. More importantly his way is an invitation to those who are tired, worn out and burned out on religion to come to him, learn from him and recover their life (Matthew 11: 28-30 MSG). Sadly in our modern age the church, both leaders and lay people, too often forget Jesus’ invitation and instead neglect the very practices that sustain the health of their souls.
Does a change in the way you care for your soul sound inviting or intimidating? Scripture says “there is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12) . Evaluate your soul health for a moment. What do you dread at the start of a day? What keeps you awake at night? What grieves you? What relieves you? What do you long for? What inspires you? Is something missing? If all was well with your soul (the real you) what would be different?
To explore possible change in the way you care for your soul begin by writing a few paragraphs about the condition of your soul today. Include changes you desire and a few details.
- What needs attention? Sleep?
- What can no longer be ignored? Hurry and noise?
- What needs to be made right? Relationships?
- What do you need to accept? Your limits?
- What longing resides in your heart? Mercy and grace?
- What step can you take towards soul care? Good question!
- What resource or help do you need to take that step? Great question!
Making changes to care for our soul requires honesty with ourselves first and then with others. It also requires vulnerability and the guts to take important steps to engage in soul care. Be realistic and accept that change of any kind is a process that involves consistent small steps. Over time small steps of soul care can become a new and stable way of living.
Why consider soul care or be concerned with the condition of your soul? Why change? A soul nurtured and tended to can thrive and fulfill a God-given purpose but a neglected soul will surely shrivel and become dry. A great little book to help you begin a journey of soul care is titled “Soul Custody” by Stephen Smith.
Happy New Year/ Happy Soul Care. Why not focus on what really matters in 2016? Soul care is all about tending to what really matters!
Blessings! Karen Mees
Coming up next week is a post from Merle Mees!