How to Feed a Starving Soul

That rumble in your stomach as the clock strikes noon and you skipped breakfast.

The way your busyness can only go on for so long before you collapse from burn out.

All the ways we feel our lack on a daily basis are meant to stir something in us deep.

On the morning of her fourth birthday my daughter announces to me proudly that she no longer needs help…with ANYTHING! She says it all smiles and she really believes her day has arrived and she is self sufficient. All 4 yrs, 3 1/2 ft and ear to ear grin of her can now handle whatever the world throws at her- as long as that means putting her shoes, socks and jacket on by herself.

I gaze deep into her brown eyes all aglow and I tell her with utmost sincerity that I want her to know she will have need her whole life. She will need help and people and most of all she will always need Jesus, more and more everyday if she leans hard on the Cross.

My throat catches with the burn of tears as I say these things to her. I’ve known need as of late. It’s been the uncomfortable kind of need. Knee surgery, sickness, the just not enoughs, arguments that seem to circle around and around in my marriage, discouragement, loss, the end of my rope…I’ve felt the gap between my abilities and reality and it’s ached. There is a chasm between my reaching and scraping to make a life and the Life I am meant to have in Christ.

I think I’m meant to live in this space. I believe I’m meant to live in the rub between contentment and disillusionment, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Admitting we are pits of need goes against our Edenic angst. We want to be like God and when we bump into the fact that we are not nor never could be, it stings.

Malnutrition was as daily observation in Liberia. If you don’t know much about malnutrition you might not be aware there are multiple types. Most of us think of gaunt skeletal figures on the verge of death from starvation (marasmus), but the kind of malnutrition we observed in Liberia was often the result of not eating enough of the right things (kwashiorkor). Swollen bellies empty of good things and full of worms gnawing away. The fattened bellies seem good to the untrained eye, but if you know what you’re seeing, the vision becomes grim.

If I’m honest my soul feels hollow and malnourished in the same way. I’ve filled up on things failing to feed my soul and the result is what looks like health on the outside, but is sickness on the inside. My One Word for 2016 is “Nourish” and I’ve realized I need to re-evaluate, in every area, my soul’s health.

When you begin a feeding program with a malnourished child you don’t offer them a steak dinner. You can’t because the result would be a far sicker person. Their system will revolt from the shock. They simply aren’t ready. As I think about what I need I am tempted to make big plans, when what I need are small, deliberate steps toward true soul health. That is why I’m starting small.

I’ve resisted the urge to launch an overhaul of every area of my life. Instead I’m making intentional steps toward genuine health in specific areas. My first prayer for this year has been that I would fall in love with God’s Word. I want it to be the meat that reconstitutes my hungry soul. I’ve been reading through the Psalms and the result has only been to reinforce my deep need for God’s Word. The Word is sweet to a soul as starved as mine and I only need a little to produce good things in my soul. The Word is pure nourishment to the weak.

There is that word again. Need. It is uncomfortable and triggers my flight response. I want to do whatever it takes to not feel that need. Trouble is I’m meant to feel that need and to fill that need with Christ again and again. It is the shadow under which we all live and, ironically enough, is the only true light we have for this life.

Does your soul feel starved? How are you “starting small” to nourish your spirit back to health?

6 Comments

  1. Dorette January 24, 2016

    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you for sharing so honestly and giving us the opportunity to relate. Your words: “The Word is pure nourishment for the weak.” stood out to me and reminded me to go back to the basics again too. I also love the Psalms and find them beautiful and encouraging.

    May God meet all your needs today 😉 Blessings

  2. Laurie January 25, 2016

    There seems to be a theme in everything I’m reading today: nourish the spirit. I admit my QTs often feel rushed at the end. I read Scripture but struggle to apply it to my life. I can see it as another task on my to-do list instead of what I’m really longing for….Sustenance. Thank you for being real and reminding me of the need to alter my priorities by seeking Him above all else.

  3. Elizabeth January 25, 2016

    “There is a chasm between my reaching and scraping to make a life and the Life I am meant to have in Christ.” Yes. Yes yes yes. And it can be frustrating.

    “I think I’m meant to live in this space. I believe I’m meant to live in the rub between contentment and disillusionment, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Admitting we are pits of need goes against our Edenic angst. We want to be like God and when we bump into the fact that we are not nor never could be, it stings.” Yes yes yes. I think I’m getting closer to accepting the fact that I will always sin, LOL!

    Such interesting thoughts on malnourishment here. I agree that steps have to be taken a little at a time, or they don’t stick! But I’m eating up God’s Word with you, sister.

  4. Katie January 25, 2016

    Jessica, thank you for sharing your heart with us here at Velvet Ashes. The one word I chose for this year is “choice.” This comes from Deuteronomy 30: 11-20. Basically, I want to start actively choosing, and choosing life. Part of choosing life is choosing to live with healthier expectations on myself. This means more rest and more time in the Word to be filled up. It’s funny how living cross-culturally allows me to easily identify when my soul is starved. Anyways, your post reminds me to choose nourishment and so I just wanted to say thank you 🙂

    1. Elizabeth January 25, 2016

      I love this Katie! The Choosing. Sometimes it’s hard for me to choose life and instead I get sucked into the darkness of my own mind. I have to remember to Choose Life.

  5. Brandie Green January 26, 2016

    Living between contentment and disillusionment, that’s a word picture right there! I’ve been thinking lately that to be dis-illusioned is a good albeit rather uncomfortable process. We really are such needy beings. Those times when we realize that while we can do much for ourselves we actually can’t control or do very much at all, I think those times are new beginnings, new growth, new life. And I think, as I’ve watched folks ahead of me in age and faith, that there are several seasons where we gain a whole new perspective of how much we need God. Thank you for writing so clearly, and may his mercy abound with each step of each day.

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