The Care of our Souls {The Grove: Neglect}

I’ve been there. I am sure you’ve been there.

You wake up one day, and today is the day. You lace up your running shoes or roll out your yoga mat, and you go for it. You haven’t done it in so long, but today is the day that changes. You keep up with it for a while – you even post on social media the lessons your new fitness regime is teaching you.

And then the day comes that you don’t feel like going. Or you’re sick. Or you have family visiting you. And then a couple days after that, something happens. And a few days after that, something else comes up. And slowly your running shoes or your yoga mat or your lifting gloves have gathered dust bunnies and you have to start all over again.

The care and keeping of our earthly bodies can get tedious. Wake up, wash off all the dead skin cells and the sweat, fix your hair (the worst part for me!), maybe put on make-up, exercise, read your Bible, take the kids to school, walk the dog, make food, eat it, then at the end of the day, do the reverse of all those things, and go to bed, and do it all again tomorrow.

When I think about how many more times in my life I’m going to have to take my make-up off, I get a little annoyed. Beyond doing anything else, simply keeping everything running is a lot of work somedays – and I’m finding more work the older I get! But the truth is, once we begin to neglect any of these areas, there is a price to pay. We don’t have the option to neglect our bodies for long before we start to see clear consequences.

The care and keeping of our souls works in sort of the same way. Finding rhythms of rest in our lives is a challenge, and one that’s easy to push off until another day. Figuring out how to be intentional about joy and gratitude is necessary to the care of our souls, but we tend to push these things down the priority list in favor of other time consuming things.

Tish Harrison Warren, in her book “Liturgy of the Ordinary”, asserts that “Our bodies and souls are inseparable, and therefore what we do with our bodies and what we do with our souls are always entwined.” Tish spends many chapters of her book building a case that these day-in, day-out, tedious acts we do to care for our internal and external selves is not work or maintenance – it is worship.

When you are leading other people – whether it’s a staff or your children or a large team of volunteers – you tend to throw all your energy into their care and maintenance. And one day you stop long enough to see that dust bunnies have formed on the things that are supposed to be keeping you healthy – spending time in prayer, perhaps, or putting effort into friendships that are rest for our souls.

I often have to take a soul-inventory, because I’ve found in my own life that neglect of my soul creeps in the same way neglect of my body does. It happens slowly, in abstract space. When I start to feel restless or when I have to fight for a sense of peace, alarm bells begin to go off. If I am fighting for things that are rightfully mine as a believer – joy, peace, patience, a sense of worth – there are dust bunnies on my soul. There are exercises I should have been doing that I haven’t been. And I have to take a step back and reevaluate some things.

I would love to encourage you to take a moment, even as you read this, to let God speak to you about the care and keeping of your soul. Maybe you do need to allow more space to care for your body, and give that time to hearing from God. Maybe you need to build rhythms of rest into your life.

Isn’t God good that He leads us not to spend our lives in a manic frenzy of service to him, but that He wants us to rest and be healthy. Caring for our souls is a bit like tithing – God can do more with my 90% than I can do with my 100%. When we honor God’s call to care for the bodies he’s put us in, and when we make an effort to allow Him to restore our souls, He takes us incredible places.

When you hear ‘care for your soul’, what image comes to mind? How is God calling you to care better for yourself? What areas in your life are ‘collecting dust bunnies’ and showing neglect?

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