Image by Franco Folini, Creative Commons
I came to realize, if I couldn’t take care of myself, I couldn’t help anyone else. Soul care is perhaps our primary responsibility and renewing our soul is as “holy” as serving a homeless person. Our personal wellbeing and our ability to contribute to the wellbeing of others are wired together and the electricity flows both directions.
I have repeatedly fallen into two traps, and sometimes I still do; but not as often. I would ruminate over the past, my failures, and my wounds which is a backdoor strategy for depression and inertia. The other, out of an overgrown sense of personal responsibility, I would so hard for so long without coming up for air that eventually, I would simply crash. Both ways , I ignored the caring for my own soul.
For me the core of soul care means two things; remembering who I am in God’s eyes and being in touch with myself enough to know what makes me feel alive.
You’re a no good sinner, rotten to the core, bound for Hell, and your only hope is to accept Jesus’ payment for your sin and start improving the way you live. (I got kind of depressed just from writing those words.) I won’t quibble with the propensity of humans towards sin, the reality of a life beyond this one, or the redemptive nature of Christ, but I do take exception with the totally imbalanced perspective of this statement.
For we are also precious in the site of God, the very pinnacle of his creation, possessing his image and likeness, and uniquely gifted to fulfill an important role in his kingdom now. We could not possibly be loved more, forgiven more, accepted more, or blessed more that we are right now because has simply maxed out on all of those things!
To say it, is one thing. To believe it, is another. To feel it, yet, another. People do things that cause me to doubt what God has said about me and done for me, but my biggest enemy is myself.
Understanding who you really are is the foundation of soul care, being refreshed, and enjoying a Sabbath. Understanding what makes you feel alive, giving yourself permission to do those things, and keeping them in your life is the other part of the foundation.
When I complete a long bike ride along the lakefront, I feel like I have done something good. When I wail away playing rhythm guitar to some rock song, I feel a sense of release and refreshment. When I write as honestly as I can about something that is important or fascinating to me, I feel I have created something. When I use my gifts to reach out to people marginalized by the church or culture, then I am rewarded by knowing my life is in alignment with who I really am. When I laugh with my friends and make them laugh, I am alive. When I am listening to loud, live music and singing and dancing, I really don’t care about anything else. When someone needs me and I do the right thing by them, I am drawn far away from my self-centered preoccupations. In short these things make me feel alive.
When I neglect them, I get into trouble. I get bored, or want to escape, or lose my perspective.
The core of human joy and meaning is found in resting, refreshing, relating,and creating. Please, take care of yourself. Be intentional about enjoying the Sabbath principle in your life.
From my book, Free Range Faith.