Saturday, November 18, 2017

Soul Care

Soul care. A lot of what I've been writing this year (or at least the first half of the year before I quit making the time to write, thanks to the friends who recently encouraged me!) has been related to this topic.  Even so, being relatively at the forefront of my mind, I began to feel the weight of an empty tank as spring rolled into summer (when I originally wrote this) and again as summer rolled into fall, in fact I’m still feeling fairly drained as I write this.

I have certainly noticed this cyclical pattern in my life over the past couple of years and as one who's wired to push, persevere and generally just get stuff done, my soul can quickly get left in the back seat, forgotten amongst the list of to-dos in a very short period of time.  I can very easily put myself in a pressure cooker of self-derived expectations at home and work despite a lack of outside influences leading me in that direction.

This is commonplace in a world at war against what we truly desire and the busyness, demands, and distractions of life can quickly sneak in like a thief in the night (our enemy is cunning, remember) and before we know it we feel drained, off track, and in need of a reset once again. As John Eldridge says in The Sacred Romance "Sadly, most of us watch the oil level in our car more carefully than we watch over the life of our heart." This is certainly me, even ignoring the fact that I've rarely driven anything that didn't require an oil check at every refuel…

When I get in this mode I shift from living with joy and purpose to living just to survive.  Everything feels like a burden, even things I enjoy.  I fall back into my default mode of checking boxes--work, home, hobbies, even my prayer/quiet time.  A while back I distinctly remember even being frustrated one morning because I didn't get a chance to read as much as I wanted to and just wanted to finish a devotional and move on to something else.  Warning!  I'd certainly fallen out of "restful posture of faith and assurance," as John Eldridge puts it in Walking With God…

As Song of Solomon 5:2 says "I slept but my heart was awake," going over various tasks and concerns, waking up already racing through the coming day, meetings, worries, anxiety.  My 2017 goal of "Ruthlessly eliminating hurry" is continually at risk of going out the window and I feel on a regular basis I can relate more and more to the opening of Breathe by Jonny Diaz:

Ninety miles an hour going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life

In our world this is certainly not uncommon, and I think for most expected, considering that "Starting very early, life has taught all of us to ignore and distrust the deepest yearnings of our heart.  Life, for the most part, teaches us to suppress our longing and live only in the external world where efficiency and performance are everything." (Eldredge, Sacred Romance)

School, jobs, parents, even our churches, which are supposed to be a place to help water and grow the desire for God within us can turn into centers for achievement and busyness.  Taking this into consideration, it's no surprise that many of us get and stay off track despite looking like we have it together on the outside.

In God's eyes, however, all that needs to be achieved is already done and while in His grace he chooses to allow us to be a part of what his is doing, he certainly doesn't need us to accomplish his purposes.

So how do we get back on track and reconnect with our heart?  How do we live like a reservoir of life that constantly flows without emptying instead of a canal that fills up and then quickly transfers its contents to the world around it?

This looks different for everyone and it's crucial that we figure out what things fuel and refresh us so that we can come back to them time and again.

For me, during these times things that typically help are:
-Riding my bike a lot and spending more time outside
-Chillin in my quiet time, maybe reading a short devotional and just listening instead of trying to burn through a book or study
-Sleeping in a little
-Pausing extra efforts and side projects at work and just focusing on the core of my job
-Trying to push out noise and listen to my heart

I've been asking the question of "God, what do you want" a lot.

What do you want me to read this morning? Sometimes the answer is nothing.

What do you want me to learn from this situation? This person? What are you calling me to do in this situation?

This has taken time-in the summer it was probably 3 weeks before I was able to push out enough noise and distractions to get back to a place where I can hear my heart and the still, small voice of God. This fall it’s been several months and I’m still wrestling with it, clinging to the words of Galatians 5:1:

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Thanks to everyone who’s encouraged me to live more freely and share here on this blog, those reminders are very valuable and much appreciated!

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