Monday, April 4, 2016

That Third Part of You

Once there was an honest pastor who preached an honest sermon I won't soon forget. It felt less like a sermon and more like a dad's conversation with his family as they sat around the living room after dinner, sipping from their mugs, the ladies' feet curled up under them and the sons stretched out on the couches.

The pastor told us of a season of depression and how it puzzled him. He told us how he searched his life for the cause of the despondency and took note of how well he was taking care of himself. He was getting his exercise, eating well and getting plenty of sleep. He looked at his relationship with Jesus and felt he was spiritually healthy. His self-evaluations found that he was taking good care of his body and good care of his spirit. 

And then God reminded him of the third part of himself. 

We are made up of Body, Soul and Spirit. All three pieces are good because all three were puzzle-fitted into who we are, on purpose, for a purpose.

Taking care of our body seems fairly straightforward. Even if we fail miserably at it, it's hard to forget about completely. Our body stares back at us from the mirror, whines with hunger if we forget to feed it and refuses to cooperate fully if we don't give it the sleep it needs.

Taking care of our spirit is a bit trickier for most of us. Our spirit is the part of us that connects with God and most of us are learning how to do just that. Connecting with God is learning how to be a friend to the single most important being in existence. Yes, it's complicated. Yes, we can get disconnected at times. But in my world, this one is not the most illusive. Maybe you feel the same way.

Taking care of our soul? That is what the pastor talked to us about that morning. What is our soul and how do we take care of it?

Soul = mind, will, emotions.

Your soul is where the real YOU lives. Your soul is your personality, your talents, your passions. When someone sees your soul, they see the real you. 

In this pastor's quest to become the healthiest he could be, he had to take care of his soul. Just because his body and his spirit were healthy, didn't mean that he felt healthy. He discovered that true health was found when he was feeding his body, spirit and soul.

As a young mom with dozens of kids biting my ankles, I tend to forget about my soul. And also exaggerate. 

Peering into the soul can be an exotic experience. Seemingly faraway and unknown but quite interesting. What is in here? 

After I had been dating my soul for a few years, trying to get to know it, I read two revealing books. They asked me great questions like this:
    ~What do you love to do?
    ~What brings out your passions?
    ~When do you feel the most alive?
    ~What infuriates you the fastest?

Am I really supposed to know these things about myself? Do you?

Stop for just a second and reread those questions. Give them each an answer, the best you can.

    ~What do you love to do?
    ~What brings out your passions?
    ~When do you feel the most alive?
    ~What infuriates you the fastest?

Those are Soul questions and if we want to take care of our soul, then we need to understand it's ticking.

Maybe you are uncommonly in-tune with yourself. Good on ya! 

Maybe you are like me and you have let life distract you from the real you God crafted for a purpose. Pick up that shovel, baby. Exploration awaits!

Think of the last time you felt on top of the world. When you felt so full and satisfied it reminded you of post-Thanksgiving feast. What brought you that blissful feeling?

You might feel alive when you are outside working in the dark brown dirt, covered with grass-smear and sunshine. 

Maybe painting or creating beautiful things is your alive time. 
Maybe it is stepping back from a project and seeing order where there had been chaos. 
Maybe it is being around water, any water, as long as dish soap is not in the picture.
Maybe your alive time is an evening with friends.
Chopping and sauteing.
Rearranging furniture.

Whatever our bodies need, we understand that we should give it to them.

May I suggest that whatever our souls need, we should give it to them. 

If your soul needs color, brighten it up.
If your soul needs dirt, muddy it up.
If your soul needs alone time, hibernate.

We need to take care of our souls.

Of course I am not suggesting we become narcissistic and selfish. There is always that tension that we live in: Taking care of me without giving in to Me! It's all about Me!

It becomes clear when we look at it this way:
We take care of ourselves so that we can be fully alive to do the good things that God has created us to do.

For we are God's masterpiece. 
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, 
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10

Here is the second part of feeding our souls. This is the part that really makes me giddy. 

The first way to feed our souls is through following our hobbies.

The second way is through following our gifts. 

I was driving home from a class my church does a couple of times a year, when I realized something was going on in my soul. I often volunteer for this class and beforehand I had felt so drained and wondered how the heck I was going to get through the evening, much less have anything to give to anyone. But on the drive home I found myself singing my little heart out, feeling so full and so alive. 

What was going on?

I had fed my soul through using one of my gifts. 

It can be easy to overlook this one because using our gifts still takes effort. It is no spa day. But I have found it to be a long drink of cool water on a sweaty day none the less.

What are your spiritual gifts?

When we use our spiritual gifts, it's like we are experiencing life as it was meant to be experienced. We were created for God, with good purposes and when we line ourselves up with those purposes, it is {more} well with our souls. 

My husband loves serving people in practical ways. It fills him up in crazy ways. One day he came home grinning all over the room and I had to ask about his morning. Oh, he had just taken a new friend to the phone store and had set him up with a great plan. What might have drained my soul to the cracked and bloodied stage had refreshed his to overflowing. 

How do you enjoy helping people? 
With prayer? 
A note slipped into their pocket? 
Paying for their lunch? 
Leading a Bible study? 
Hugging the snot out of someone?

As I sit here with some pretty incredible noise-canceling headphones, typing words on my computer screen, my cup is nearing it's capacity. There are few distractions and I'm alone with my words and their meanings. I feel full. 

When I start to feel cranky and find myself whining about life, I give my soul a check up. Most times I find that it has been too long since I have wrestled with words or color and my soul is hungry. 

Is your soul hungry? What have you been feeding it?

It's complicated, this soul feeding thing. It is tough. It takes some forethought. We have to be intentional. 

But it is worth it. Our souls are worth it.

Let's be whole people. Let's be men and women who know our own selves. Who value not just our bodies and our spirits, but also our souls.

Your soul is amazing. 

What are you passionate about?
What makes you come alive?

Chase it down. 

Find it.

Explore it.

Do it.

It is what God has created you to do. 

Enjoy it.

To read more, buy this powerful book: Chazown by Craig Groeschel.
Check out this website:
And this book is pretty great too: The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh!! No comments??? I wanna comment most every time I read your stuff Carissa! You are good at it. And it is good stuff. I don't know, can I go on and read two delicious meals in one setting? Something in me says this needs some digesting.