After living for many years in what I now realize was a very dysfunctional system, I am coming to truly appreciate "mutually life-giving" relationships. No one totally lives a Norman Rockwell existence, but if we feel that we've lost ourselves somewhere along the way, it's a red flag signaling that things need to change. I do believe, however, that dysfunction doesn't just magically pop up in one generation. It is usually a system that has been passed down through the generations.
My husband, of five years, and I just returned from a wonderful three day weekend in the mountains. In a short time we took in everything from the grand Biltmore Estate and Gardens to the Asheville River Arts District.
I've always loved photography and the Arts. It was such fun capturing the breathtaking beauty of the mountains and the diversity of the numerous gardens with my camera. My husband patiently strolled with me as I popped in and out of the artists' studios that held beauty displayed in the mediums of glass, pottery, oil paints, water colors, jewelry, sculpture, and even old inner tubes.
I told a good friend (after I returned home) that I felt like a part of me, that had shriveled and died, was beginning to come alive again.
I am realizing that a crucial part of self care and soul care is indulging the God-given bents inside of us that make our souls soar.
I studied French in high school and college, but I have learned that if you don't "use" it, you will quickly "lose" it. That goes for how we nurture and take care of ourselves. If we have a gift for music, art, writing, running, swimming, gardening, woodworking, dancing, problem solving, (fill in the blank), if we don't use it, we will lose it too.
God gave us each unique ways to explore and relate to His Creation. He delights in us using these gifts in order to step out of the daily grind and let our bodies and minds simply breathe. By giving my soul the space it needs, I find that I am better at re-framing how I look at the daily "to-do" list.
After photographing and breathing in the fragrance of heirloom roses, I am better equipped to let the weekly laundry be an offering vs. an obligation.
Even if we have neglected the soul care we need (for whatever reason), take heart, there is no such thing as "too late."
"I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten." (Joel 2:25)
I am so thankful that God is in the business of restoring and redeeming. He is an expert in bringing what was dead back to life. He can do that in us if we will let him.
Having been given this gift by God and my loving husband, makes me want to repay it. When was the last time you encouraged your spouse or special people in your life to "get in touch with their inner child" or to give their soul some nourishment?
Soul care is not only a gift we give ourselves or receive from others, it's a gift to be passed on.
Though going to an ACC Baseball Tournament may not be tops on my list of things to do, I know that my sports-loving husband gets a break from work stress and feeds his inner child when he takes in the distinctive "crack" of bat meeting ball, and the unique aroma of hot dogs mixed with popcorn that can only be found at a ballpark. When was the last time you asked yourself, "What makes my spouse come alive?"
Maybe it's time to take inventory:
1. What makes my soul come alive?
2. What makes my spouse's soul come alive?
3. What has hindered this from happening?
4. What steps can I take to make this happen?
5. Plan it and Do it!!
* These don't have to be vacations, it could be just going for a hike in a nearby park or relaxing with a good book and glass of wine. Let your soul breathe.*
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You that You long to usher our spirits into the unhurried rhythms of grace. Thank you for the unique way in which You created me to be in relationship with You and to enjoy Your creation. Help me to realize the parts of my soul that need nourishment and, through Your grace, help me to come alive again. You are the ultimate Redeemer and Restorer. Let me put my trust in You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
What about you? Is there a part of you that has died or gotten lost along the way? What makes YOU come alive? What steps can you take to give your soul the care and nourishment it needs? Will you share?