Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Soul Care #1: Meeting Our Needs, Nurturing Our Souls

I'm reading a book called "Embracing Soul Care" and finding it to be extremely valuable as I sort through what led to a season of discouragement and exhaustion I hit last winter. I'd like to share some helpful points from it, in hopes that it might encourage or help someone else. First, a quote from the author and former pastor, Stephen W. Smith:

"I had preached that the soul needs to be saved, but I didn't know what to do with it after that. I'd hated books about soul care. They meant slowing down and measuring myself by something other than church-growth figures and my salary. Those books asked me to look inside, to pay attention to my soul, and to find my identity in God...

"Rather than care for my soul, I long tried to fill myself through effort and socially acceptable achievements. ... through some difficult experiences I learned that my soul is not an "it." My soul is me--the real me. Your soul is the real you...
"Like a hamster, I got on a wheel and ran and ran. [After I snapped], wreckage flew everywhere as my soul collapsed in upon itself...
"I realized then that unless I actually 'did' what matters most, I would keep on imploding, ruining my life and the lives of those I loved. This journey of exploring what matters most in life is the journey of soul care. I'm still on this journey. I have not arrived."
When I began reading this book, it was a wake-up call for me. I have not yet reached a point of soul implosion, but I don't want to. Too many people are depending on me. I want to be sure to thoughtfully nurture my own heart while walking this road of intentional, heartfelt motherhood.

And maybe that's the case for you, too. We've all seen the cases on the news of mothers who let everything implode... and while there are often many factors, it seems that the implosion often happens because the mother just tried to keep going, despite being mightily unhealthy. These women try to keep putting one foot in front of the other while being unhealthy spiritually, mentally, and/or emotionally... and it spills over into harmful behavior or choices.

We could take this too far, of course, and make "me time" and self-examination an unhealthy focus in our lives. But I think we should try to find a place of balance: not navel-gazing egotism, but also not running ourselves ragged meeting everyone's needs but our own.

I love this quote highlighting the importance of doing what needs doing NOW:
"The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now." ~African Proverb

Soul care requires our time and attention. Have you been trying to "do it all" or be "Superwoman" and not taking care of your own needs? Have these quotes highlighted any areas of "drought" in your life? Is this an area that needs your focus, so that you don't end up (like the author wrote) "imploding", ruining your life and the life of everyone you love?

I write this not as some sort of scare tactic, but as a real concern for real moms out there who want to take on the world but forget to care for their own souls. I hope we can learn to walk in balance, both trusting God to meet our needs, but also doing what we can with what we have to stay healthy and nurtured as well.

Thoughts? I welcome your discussion.


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