If peace and quiet were kept in a bank account, mine might be running in the red. Over time the realization of how much my soul longs for stillness has grown. The constant clatter and activity of four children causes me to feel beset at times in our smallish home. Two of my children still follow me around like little ducklings where ever I go. I’m learning that if I don’t have enough quiet time I become impatient and cranky. Finding the balance is difficult. On the one hand I’m concerned about becoming selfish and potentially neglecting my family. On the other hand I’m learning the importance of taking care of my soul. Quiet is to my soul like water is to a plant. When my soul gets watered, I can be a better wife, mom, minister, and friend. When I don’t have any quiet I get grumpy, short tempered, and overwhelmed.
This past spring was one of those seasons in which I experienced little peace or quiet. In February, March, and May we hosted four Unearthing Destinies events. My husband was back at the camp we manage (getting it ready to open for the summer season) and I was basically a single parent. Five days before our May conference I became sick with a high temperature and remained in bed until the day the conference started. Thankfully Greg was at home and took care of the kids while I watched more movies in a few days than I had seen all year.
I also downloaded a few of my favorite podcasts. One in particular was titled, “Healing and Wholeness” by Kirs Vallotton. Hearing a good truth at an inopportune time hits like a great insight….but hearing wisdom for the situation you are currently facing penetrates deeply and may even stick for a lifetime. This particular message is one I will not easily forget.
Kris was sharing about how he studied the 27 miracles that Jesus performed. Understanding that Jesus can heal with a word, he studied those miracles and asked this question, “If Jesus did more than heal with a word, what did He do and why?” What Kris began to understand is that Jesus was not only concerned with physical heath, but in many situations He required actions that were healing for the individual’s soul.
A huge light bulb came on for me and I realized that I had been moving at high speed for weeks rarely stopping to take a breath. I had been neglecting something that was important, valuable, and created by God. I had neglected my very soul.
The second verse of 3ed John says, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
God is speaking to me about the importance of Soul health. I’ve heard a lot of teaching about the need to be led by the Spirit but very little about the importance of the Soul. In fact I’ve even heard some teaching that the Soul should be ignored and that a healthy Spirit is the only thing that matters. If God created our Soul, it should not be ignored, but cared for. He has commanded us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. My eyes are being opened to realize that if my Soul is not loved well, I won’t be able to love others well.
This post is being written during a writers’ retreat I’m hosting at our camp. My soul is soaking in the fresh air, brief walks by the river ALONE, and quiet time to think, pray, and write. Creating more space for reflection in my life was something that drew me to the 7th year. I knew it was something I needed, but even after beginning this journey, I continued to press past the warning lights. Instead of occasionally putting my foot on the brake I kept the pedal to the medal for several weeks. At times I would hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, “Slow down, sit down, take a break, and watch a movie or something”. Unfortunately, I tuned Him out and ran full speed ahead until my head hit the pillow at night. I became sleep deprived, exhausted, and irritable.
Those days I spent sick in bed were a warning light that read, “check soul soon”.
Alicia asks in week 13, “When we are self-leading instead of waiting (behavior), what do we really believe about God’s goodness?”
Running 100 miles an hour barely stopping to breathe is a clear reflection of a weakness in my God concept. Taking breaks to rest and replenish reveals a heart that trusts in God to complete what is humanly impossible. I pushed and pushed myself trying to take care of everyone’s needs while neglecting my own. This kind of behavior at the root is not selfless but actually self exalting idolatry. God clearly mandates rest in scripture knowing that in our weakness we would try to accomplish work in our own strength. Looking at my actions alone, I can see I was trying to be God instead of allowing God to be God. Those few days in bed turned into a merciful gift, allowing me to readjust and repent.
This writers retreat has provided a space in time for me to replenish. I’m making mental lists of how I can better take care of my soul. Perhaps if I were to write my own version of Psalm 23 it would sound something like this:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me go skiing with friends, worship beside a rushing river, sets me in a quiet meadow where I can reflect on His word. He restores my soul. He reveals Himself through stories, movies, and everyday activity for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through a valley of noise and disruption, I will not fear exhaustion, for you are with me; your presence and stillness are available any moment in time. Your table of intimacy and joy is set before me in the midst of a busy schedule. Your anointing is readily accessible, more than my cup can hold. Your goodness and love follow me all the days of my life, and I shall continually hunger and thirst for more.