Soul Care

part one: what even, is the soul?

Yes. I am the blogger who spent almost 1100 words explaining a simple solution for your potential dishwasher woes.

I was going to erase it when I logged in to write this morning but stopped myself.

Why? It kept coming up. This question that oftentimes frustrates, but will not leave me be. I ask it a lot of times in almost every situation where I believe I can gain clarity from asking the question. I ask to learn from past mistakes, better understand how I’m built and quite honestly sometimes to avoid pain. Sometimes asking “why” stirs up more trouble than I wanted but it is also a question that pushes me into deep reflection and helps me offer godly, free grace to others.

My soul often wrestles with all of this.

How I’m built. Why I often feel so “extra” when thinking about and processing things. What it is in me that is good and valuable enough to be shared with and make an impact on others.

And because my soul is reaching more clarity in my late 40s, I’m not as certain or confident as I would like to be. And that is extremely frustrating to me.

Every year from 2013 – 2017 – I read the book, Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. I don’t know why I put it down last year, but when I picked it up this month to clarify what the soul even actually is and why I persist in soul care work, I felt a weight.

Not eager to open and dig into with the excitement of previous years, I noticed that I felt it would be work or that I might read something I was not ready to reckon with. It could be my wrestling with menopause and what it means I will need to learn and work through or maybe it’s the feeling that I’ve done this whole thing wrong.

That I did “it” out of order, did it without all of the togetherness required these days to make a meaningful splash in the big Internet world or that I heard God incorrectly and this isn’t at all what I’m supposed to be doing at all.

Posts about the dishwasher, dating your spouse or even our amazing travel adventures don’t seem to land exactly as I want them to. It’s not the foundational stuff that goes toward tending to my soul and helping you tend to yours. Posts about how being snappish with a mother in my library book club or our shutdown story series; those resonate.

The vulnerable. The transparent. The less than put together.

Those posts move women to message me privately and share that they can relate, that they understand, some even share ideas about how I might improve my latest conundrum.

This is what speaks to my soul and apparently to some of you and yours.

And here’s why I think it does…

“What is running your life at any given moment is your soul. Not external circumstances, not your thoughts, not your intentions, not even your feelings, but your soul. The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self. The soul is the life center of human beings.”  Dallas Willard

I have had a difficult time showing up in this space (almost every space actually) with consistency and impact because I’m still learning what this means in the practical everyday living. And when I get stuck on what my soul is and what I’m supposed to be doing (a part of my “broken thinking” about the soul) I stack up a bunch of activities, responsibilities, and tasks and begin hustling to force an authentic connection between the outside work with the inside “work”.

I see this in my parenting, relationships, how I showed up in the roles I’ve worked and served in and especially why there was so much conflict from and within me as result of not understanding the significance of my soul. This is why I want to learn, share and help others because the soul is the most important part of you (and me) yet it gets so little attention.

My thinking is that it’s difficult to tend to my soul (really anything for that matter) when I really don’t understand what it actually is.

WHAT THE SOUL IS

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing more about my understanding of the soul and how I’m attempting to tend to my soul daily as a result of what I’m re-learning and understanding more fully.

From time to time it may look like more posts about the dishwasher or the dentist (pray for me, I have an appointment on Tuesday morning). When that happens you’ll know (and I will too!) that I’m struggling with hustling on the outside rather than claiming the real, authentic, transformative work that is done on the inside in relationship with God.

What about you? How do you define the soul?

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