We live in demanding times.
That statement was true at the beginning of 2020 and has elevated tenfold with the coronavirus pandemic.
As usual, everyone seems to be going and doing, but now with a heightened sense of fear. We’ve become like hamsters on a wheel. Most of us live in a perpetual state of some form of exhaustion.
If you’re nodding your head and feeling a prick of conviction, you’ll get no judgment from me. Hey, I get it. I’m a doer. I like to-do lists. There’s a sense of satisfaction when I can check something off my list. It makes me feel productive and in control.
Lately, I’ve come to learn how little control I truly have.
It began with the recent deaths of my brother and sister-in-law. I was thrown from the hamster wheel. There was an abrupt stop to the going and doing (this post is part 7 of the Grieving Well series). Next, my husband was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis. And then throw into the mix a worldwide pandemic.
I found myself empty. I simply could not produce.
Enter the Holy Spirit of God.
During this break from the hamster wheel, the precious Holy Spirit has been teaching me some valuable lessons about what I identify as soul care.
Each of us is born with a God-given living soul. Our souls are eternal.
Our souls are the Essense of who we are—the most important part of us.
“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” ~ George MacDonald
Suffice it to say that we need to handle our souls with great care.
Running yourself ragged at Mach 5 day in and day out is not kind to your soul.
It’s madness, really.
You see, only the Lord has complete control. Only the Lord can produce anything of value.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.” John 15: 4-5 NLT (emphasis mine)
So, during the throes of grief, a health scare, and a worldwide pandemic, I found myself unable to produce at my usual pace. I was utterly exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. All I wanted to do was sleep. But I felt guilty for taking naps throughout the day. It seemed lazy and ‘unfruitful.’ Calling yourself lazy and unfruitful is not kind.
I finally decide to speak with the Lord about it. And do you know what He said?
“Sometimes the most productive (fruitful) thing you can do is rest in me.”
Now, that is kindness.
The more we ‘remain’ in His kindness, the more we will reflect it—to our souls and to others around us. Lord knows this world needs Christians to reflect kindness, especially in light of our current events.
Yes, the Father is kind to our souls.
Let’s Talk Basic Soul Care
What does soul care look like?
No, not good ole peanut butter and jelly. But hey, it keeps things simple and helps us to remember. Truth be told, perhaps it should be J & PB if we are going in order of importance. But that messes up my cute and delicious acronym. Besides, PB &J are eaten together as one sandwich. So, each of these steps should be applied together.
I know this sounds simple—and it is. But yet we don’t do it. Seriously, how often do you pause for soul care during the day?
We go from getting the kids ready for school to defusing the argument on the way to school, then to work, then to the pick-up line, then to soccer practice, then to making dinner, and then to the bedtime routine.
At Mach 5, there’s no pausing to smell the roses.
How are we to ‘remain’ attached to the vine of Jesus, if we are too overloaded and frazzled to spend time with Him throughout our day?
I set my phone alarm two times a day to remind me to pause for five minutes.
By pause, I mean, turn off your phone, TV, and other distractions and be quiet. Be still. Go into the restroom if you must.
“Be still and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Taking time to pause throughout the day enables me to keep short accounts of my shortcomings. I look at shortcomings like weeds in God’s garden of my life. It’s a lot easier to manage a few at a time. If we let the discipline of pulling weeds go unattended, it gets out of hand pretty quickly.
Once I have quieted myself, I move onto the next step.
I’m not talking about yoga or anything New Age. What I mean is to take time to pause during our daily routines and breathe.
Life is bumpy. Just like our cars get out of alignment from bumps in the road, we get out of alignment with the Spirit.
A car out of alignment displays similar symptoms as a life out of alignment:
- Pulling to the right or left.
“Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:27
- Uneven or rapid tire wear.
Stress and worry take a toll on the soul.
- The steering wheel is shaky.
When Jesus is not at the wheel, things will get shaky.
Each morning I take five minutes either after my quiet time or my workout and “breathe in” the fruit of the Holy Spirit from Galatians 5: 22-23 which is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I breathe in LOVE and breathe out anger and bitterness. I breathe in JOY and breathe out sadness and depression. I do this with each fruit of the Spirit all the while asking God to show me if I need to focus my attention on something in particular.
I repeat the ‘breathing in the Spirit’ process during my subsequent 5 minute PB & J breaks.
The whole point of the pausing and breathing is to invite the Lord Jesus back into our day. You know as well as I do that when we are wrapped up in our tasks, it’s easy to forget about Jesus.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20
Friends, we must open the door of our soul to Jesus. No one else can care for our souls. He’s knocking, let’s make a point to invite Him in throughout our day. The Father is kind to us. Let’s be kind to our souls and to one another.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and prayer requests in the comments below.
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