‘Soul Care’ Discovery: Today’s discovery is an expansion of a discovery I made several years ago before I’d given much thought to caring for my soul. This expansion occurred during my book club discussion of Daring Greatly, by Brene’ Brown, when my friend and colleague, Joanie, talked about the power of speaking compassionately to our hearts. I had time to dissect Joanie’s words in greater detail during my personal retreat at St. Gertrude’s Monastery.
This tiny blue chapel situated at the center of the St. Gertrude Monastery Cemetery is a place where I was able to sit and think about ‘soul’ care, including the book club conversation with my friend and colleague, Joanie.
‘Soul Care’ Practice: Before exploring Joanie’s observation further, I’d like to tell you about my initial discovery concerning uncompassionate self-talk. It occurred during a time when I was frustrated about my inability to conquer a harmful habit. I knew I ‘should’ be able to become victorious, but I couldn’t seem to achieve lasting success.
Perhaps you can relate!
One day I said to myself—not realizing at the time I was actually speaking to my ‘soul’—“Susan Emmalyn Reeve, you are SO disgusting!” At the time I said this, I didn’t have the insight to identify my comment as harmful ‘soul’ conversation.
By that time, however, I had learned to recognize the ‘still small voice’ of the Spirit speaking into my spirit, and I knew my critical comment caused God to grieve.
Here are some insights I realized that day:
- If someone had spoken about one of my daughters or granddaughters in the manner in which I spoke to myself, I’d be furious and would rise to their defense.
- I’m a daughter of God, created in God’s very image. I have immeasurable worth.
- The love I have for my family is nothing but a mere reflection of the great love God has for me.
- Because of God’s grace, I am not condemned and am loved exactly as I am, in spite of my flaws and failures.
From that day forward, I have never allowed myself to engage in that manner of self-talk.
The evening of our book club, Joanie kicked my realization up a notch.
Joanie explained the impact compassionate heart talk has on the brain. She used the illustration of herself standing at the door of her pantry looking for chocolate—even when her brain tells her, “Joanie, you don’t need chocolate!”
To our book club group, Joanie demonstrated. Patting the area of her heart, she asked, “Sweetheart, what’s going on in here?” and then assuring herself gently, “You can have chocolate if you still want it, but first, let’s look at why you think you need it right now! Is something hurting? Are you lonely? What’s happening in your heart?”
That type of self-talk, my wise friend explained, unlocks the brain’s limbic system to make a healthy, rather than risky, choice.
Even as I believe God loves my soul, I also know there is an enemy of the soul. This devil is delighted when my soul—or your soul—is caught up in conflict, confusion and condemnation. The enemy of my soul, however, is rendered impotent when I:
- shower my soul with gentleness and compassion while I’m in the process of learning what are God-honoring behaviors, and how I can execute God-honoring choices.
- give up my stubborn ‘right’ to be ‘right,’ and instead, extend grace and forgiveness to myself and others.
- walk in the truth of who I am and in Whose image I—as well as my fellow sojourners—have been created rather than wallow in the muck of regret, disgust and minimizing worth.
So, where do we begin? That’s a good question. Let’s explore some possible answers:
- Determine I will be kind and compassionate to myself. I will treat and speak to me as I would a dear friend. I will remind myself often God loves me as I am right now and where I am today. (For many, this will be uncomfortable—I can guarantee that!)
- No matter my age or my history, I’m divinely designed to change and grow. My family of origin, my past misfortunes, missteps or even miserable failures do not define me and need not keep me from living the life of abundance Jesus promised.
- Rather than run away from discomfort, I will seek to lean in and normalize it. I will remind myself others experience what I experience. Discomfort helps us grow. I love what Brene’ Brown tells her students at the University of Houston: “If you’re comfortable, I’m not teaching and you’re not learning. It’s going to get uncomfortable in here and that’s okay. It’s normal and it’s part of the process.”
- Re-frame imperfection. Grant grace rather than expect perfection:
- The 5000 Fit-Bit steps I took today are better than the 10,000-step goal I didn’t reach.
- The one drawer I cleaned and organized today is better than the six-drawers I procrastinated about cleaning yesterday.
- The not-on-my-diet-plan cookie I ate is better than the whole bag I felt like eating.
My Prayer: Lord, thank you for designing us in such a way that we are able to grow and change. Help us in this process. ~ Amen
Blessings on your journey of ‘soul care’…
- In case you’d like to review previous discoveries: See Archived Posts: Soul Care Discovery #1 – February 6, 2017 Soul Care Discovery #2 – February 27, 2017 Soul Care Discovery #3 – March 6, 2017 Soul Care Discovery #4 – March 20, 2017 Soul Care Discovery #5 – May 4, 2017 ↑
- See Romans 8:1 ↑
- See 1 Peter 5:8 ↑
- See John 10:10 ↑
- See 1 Corinthians 10:13 ↑
- Daring Greatly, by Brene’ Brown, Chapter 6, Disruptive Engagement ↑