Here’s a curious question, ‘How is your soul?’ And when was the last time you stopped and paid attention to the state of your soul?
Let me tell you my own paraphrase of a tale I came across recently. A Westerner, with a first world, 21st century mentality, was travelling through a distant land with native tribesmen on a work project. For several days, there was rapid progress, much distance covered, and many of the Westerner’s boxes were ticked – they were making good progress, goals were being achieved, it was busy and productive.
And then the tribesmen stopped. For no stated reason. And nothing happened. Nothing obvious was being done. The Westerner became frustrated with this lack of progress, this waste of time, this enforced waiting. His timetable was slipping and he was not meeting his agenda. Eventually, standing it no longer, he asked the reason for the delay. The answer stopped him short:
“We had been moving too fast and had to wait for our souls to catch up.”
The tale is attributed variously to South African, African or Inca tribesmen, or Himalayan Sherpas. It matters not a jot. Us modern-livers, we all move too fast, and are tempted to fill our days with endless to-do lists, tasks, work commitments, stuff, stuff, stuff. None of that is wrong. But how often do we take the time to stop and wait for our souls to catch up?
To let our tired, overstuffed brains slow and empty a little.
To step off the conveyor belt and regroup.
To reconnect with what we feel, and who we are, that we are more than just doing-machines.
Each of us is human, each of us is unique. And most importantly, each of us is made by God in His image as His Masterpiece, to be in relationship with Him. We were not created to be self-sufficient, we were made to need God. But how often do we live seeking to control, sort, fix and manage our busy lives independently? Though Jesus commands us to love our neighbours as ourselves, this often falls off our priority list. We struggle to stop and allow our souls to rest in the God who created us to need Him, and promises to gives us that rest.
Where is your soul currently? Is it far behind your tired and weary body, and running to catch up?
But, I hear you say, how can we possibly fit in time for soul care amongst the many complex demands of busy vet life, on-call commitments, family commitments? It is too daunting and time consuming, neither realistic nor achievable.
I believe that just as we nourish our bodies with varying quantities of food depending on the circumstances, so too there are layers of nourishment available for our souls. Sometimes we grab a quick snack on the run as a short term energy top up. Most days we have a sit-down meal which affords greater sustenance but still requires daily repetition. And holidays and celebrations afford us full blown feasts that satisfy and restore.
So too it is possible with soul rest – recognising your need is the first step, knowing yourself and how you rest, without comparison to others, is the second.
I say this to myself as much as you - it can feel hard, to make that daily choice. It has often been through the disastrous fallout of neglecting our souls that Ian, my veterinary husband, and I have learned the importance of soul care especially when life is busy and threatening to overwhelm.
So, what small morsels of nourishment for your soul could you fit in each day in a sustainable and repeatable way? To stop and pay attention to the moment. To do something creative, physical, stimulating or restful simply for you, without guilt.
Occasionally to get out of your head completely, get off the conveyor belt entirely and remind yourself that you are not perfect, nor are you indispensable, but you are precious and loved by a Father who longs to resource you.
Allowing that time can feel costly when we are busy and over committed. But I would beg to ask, what is the cost of running too far in front of our souls all the time, of not letting our souls rest?
When our souls become dried up and wizened through lack of nourishment, we cease to enjoy life and we no longer are enjoyable to be with. Those around us - family, friends, work colleagues – encounter a tired, frazzled, irritable version of ourselves. But imagine instead that those folk meet with the best version of you – your soul is sustained and nourished with God at the centre, learning to rest in God and love yourself, and not seeking to be self-sufficient but partnering with Jesus.
Of course this is a process, a daily choice. But I encourage you to lay down the guilt and the self-flagellation stick and allow your soul to catch up, be recharged and move towards being that best version of yourself.
Want to know more? Read more on my blog or find out how Life Coaching could help you find soul rest here at Equip for Life Coaching or find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/equipforlifecoaching
Life Coach and vet’s wife.