What Your Soul Craves {The Grove: Soul Care}

This life is not for the faint of heart. We are called to God-sized assignments designed to impact eternity. We tackle the big stuff. This work is demanding, exhausting, overwhelming.

We live lives layered with transition, cumulative loss and grief. We are exposed to unfiltered injustice, abuse, poverty, heart wrenching circumstances up close and personal.

And we carry our groceries for blocks and make our dinner from scratch and spend half a day getting the wrong form signed.

No wonder we are exhausted! We should be exhausted.

But we mustn’t stay exhausted.

Our bodies need sleep and nutrition. Our minds need breaks and stretching. Our emotions need a time out to process and breathe. And our souls? Our souls crave rest in God.

Remember the invitation to come to Jesus and He will give soul rest? And that part about His yoke being easy and His burden light? Jesus didn’t say our circumstances would be easy. He said His yoke is easy. That yoke tethers us to Him, freeing us to “labor with all His energy”, as Paul puts it.

Human effort doesn’t make a dent in the stuff you are called to. As amazing and wonderful as you truly are, you are entirely inadequate for what you are tasked to do. Jesus, yoked to you, is the only One who can heal, rescue, transform, bring peace and hope. It is the overflow of Christ in you that impacts the hearts you love and serve.

Fruit grows in the soil of abiding. We labor with Jesus and He gives us rest. We learn from Him and He imparts who He is. We engage Him in tending our souls and those moments invade, color, influence, and direct all our other moments.

What’s the one thing that could negate your service, take you out, destroy your impact? Simply ignore Jesus. Just neglect your soul.

Let’s be honest. We haven’t done well at honoring our limits and caring for our souls. We might be just a little addicted to all the activity and noise of the merry-go-round, bewildered that all that commotion gets us exactly nowhere.

And yet we long for soul rest.

Are you dragging your fatigued, hurried, living-on-fumes self to tackle herculean tasks? What if you showed up tomorrow nourished by the One who is peace, rest, joy? If you brought a rested, nurtured, centered soul indwelled by the presence of Jesus to the ones you serve? What difference would it make for others to experience the power of your rested soul?

Soul care includes quiet, solitude, prayer, worship, reflection, study of the Word. And it also includes creative expressions of who you are, being embraced by friends, long walks and star gazing, lingering moments over tea, nourishing your body with fresh food and your mind with fresh input, hugging kids, and celebrating.

Soul care certainly includes time alone with your Creator, responding to His invitations fragrant with kindness and truth. And it includes time with life-giving, stimulating friends. It includes repotting plants or sewing a pillow or jumping into freezing cold water or painting a wall or watching the sun rise or building a boat or lip syncing or whatever else makes your heart soar.

Yes, you are called to hard, exhausting endeavors. But you are also called to Rest and Joy. Your Beloved longs to care for your soul.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about soul care. How are you caring for your soul? What have you learned about yourself when it comes to soul care?

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21 Comments

  1. Patty Stallings April 30, 2015

    I am indebted to Scott Shaum, one of my favorite thinkers about soul care.  Every encounter with him further shapes my thinking about shepherding and care.  He has an excellent series called “Five Themes Facilitating Ill Health Amongst Global Workers” on his blog at tendingscatteredwool.com

  2. Kimberly Todd April 30, 2015

    I love this paragraph so much:

    Human effort doesn’t make a dent in the stuff you are called to. As amazing and wonderful as you truly are, you are entirely inadequate for what you are tasked to do. Jesus, yoked to you, is the only One who can heal, rescue, transform, bring peace and hope. It is the overflow of Christ in you that impacts the hearts you love and serve.

    1. Michele Womble May 1, 2015

      Yes, I liked this one, too! Why am I so often forgetting this and forging ahead in my own strength – that at best accomplishes nothing much?

    2. Patty Stallings May 1, 2015

      The truth of that becomes more and more real to me over time.

  3. Kristi April 30, 2015

    It took living in China to realize that I had been neglecting my soul for quite a long time living Stateside. I taught, coached, took pictures, attended church groups, etc, but was “addicted to the busyness.”  I was in constant movement, my mind as well as by body.  When I was given an unusually light class load, in a remote place, with only two other foreigners.  The scream of my soul for care was finally heard.  Jesus wanted my attention.  His Word was what I needed not The Work.  He painfully, lovingly, and mercifully laid me aside.

    From that expeience I am learning to hear His voice.  The voice that says, “Sit with Me. Talk to Me.  Listen to Me.  ENJOY Me.  I love you and want to be with you.”  I am learning to say no to somethings and yes to others.  He helps me to discern when to jump in and when to take a step back.  I am learning how to Be me and to be His little girl.

    1. Patty Stallings May 1, 2015

      Thank you, Kristi, for sharing.

      We know “without Him we can do nothing”, but isn’t it crazy how busy we can be doing nothing?  In His mercy He interrupts our cycles of busy and invites us to His feet.  In His kindness He restores our empty souls.

      I love that you are learning how to sit, listen, discern, BE.  May we all find that same grace.

  4. Esteci May 1, 2015

    This is for you, the Spirit said as I read. Thanks, Patty.

    I’m with you on the stargazing- but in South Dakota.

    1. Patty Stallings May 1, 2015

      Dear Esteci, thank you for letting me know.  May You hear His kindness in the invitation to care for your soul.

      And I’ll concede that South Dakota has some amazing night skies as well.  We lived in Rapid City for 10 years – such fond memories nestled into that place!

  5. Ellie May 1, 2015

    “Soul care certainly includes time alone with your Creator, responding to His invitations fragrant with kindness and truth. And it includes time with life-giving, stimulating friends. It includes repotting plants or sewing a pillow or jumping into freezing cold water or painting a wall or watching the sun rise or building a boat or lip syncing or whatever else makes your heart soar.”

    Thanks Patty for giving permission for us to need and want and do this. I don’t know why we need it – something about not having it modelled for us often? But thank you.

    1. Patty Stallings May 1, 2015

      Hi Ellie, I agree that we seem to lack permission to take care of our souls.  It makes my heart happy to promote a culture of encouraging one another to enjoy what God has created us to enjoy!  I think if we understood how very much He loves us and cares for us, we would be able to grasp how delighted He is when we are thriving.

      Ellie, may you experience all the mercy and kindness He longs to lavish on you today!

  6. Jennifer May 1, 2015

    Patti,

    So very true. We feel the need to be strong when God so much wants us to know and understand that he does not need us to be strong, because he alone is our strength. Our strength, our ability to do it all, does not lie within us. One small step at a time he is with us. Recognizing that the sustaining of our souls lies not just in what we might classify as “spiritual” things, because our relationship with God is not just spiritual. He cares for us in all of our lives. He has made us unique. It does us well to recognize the things which really do refresh and sustain us, whatever that is for us, and make the time to do it.  More challenging perhaps is learning to ask for what you need from others too, in this. Still working through how to do that one.

    1. Patty Stallings May 1, 2015

      I love your thoughtful response, Jennifer.  Clearly you have some hard won truths embedded in your soul!  Thank you for sharing.  May He continually give you wisdom in the challenges and joy in His care for you!

  7. ErinMP May 1, 2015

    This hit me right where I am, thank you! I will take time for more soul care…for me that can include reflecting and journaling or prayer journaling, fellowship, emails, funny photos and youtube videos, novels, long walks, and ice cream and coffee (or coffee ice cream, even better!).

    1. Patty Stallings May 1, 2015

      Hi Erin, it hits me right where I am, too!  I like that you know what feeds your soul and are committed to taking time to nourish your soul.  May an abundance of coffee ice cream be yours!  🙂

      1. ErinMP May 1, 2015

        Thanks. 🙂

  8. Betty Draper May 1, 2015

    Love it that someone is out there giving direction for “soul care”.  My husband and I are Member Care reps for our overseas work covering five southern states.  We go meet overseas workers home on furlough to see how their soul is doing.  We know  because we served in two countries how exhausting ministry can be and how fast thing move when you return to the states.   You are pressured to give updates to those who supported you  while over seas, pressured by family and friends to connect with them, pressure  by the needs of your children which leave very little time for yourself.   We also know that time and maturity will teach that if we don’t come apart we will come apart, literally.   There is seasons of being busy, when kids are little, and ministry is just getting started.  Yet we try to help them  understand in each season of life you must build into it time to be fed, to get refreshed, to care for your own soul.  One thing I really like about aging is I no longer dance to anyone else beat, just my Lord and He leads me into rest and you know what, I take it when it comes.  Great post.

    1. Patty Stallings May 1, 2015

      Betty, thank you for sharing your wisdom here!  And thank you for providing member care.  Shepherding the hearts of those who serve is quite a privilege, isn’t it?

      Your commitment to dancing with Him is a great model for others!   Be blessed today, Betty!

  9. ErinMP May 3, 2015

    “It was my job, I suddenly realized, to understand how difficult, how dangerous and how incredibly enriching international humanitarian work can prove. It was my job to convince humanitarian workers that unless they consistently pay attention to caring for themselves while they’re working to care for others, they will be lucky to last for three years before returning home spent, disillusioned and possibly traumatized. It was my job to know that about a quarter of humanitarians working outside the developed world can expect to undergo a life-threatening experience during their assignment. And it was my job to know what could help when these most horrendous events – the carjackings, kidnappings, land mines, shootings and tsunamis of life – blindside us on a pedestrian Tuesday afternoon.”

    McKay, Lisa (2012-05-15). Love at the Speed of Email: A Memoir (pp. 37-38). Karinya Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    Focus on the remedy…soul care!

    1. Patty Stallings May 3, 2015

      Thank you for sharing this, Erin.  Be blessed!

  10. Monica F May 7, 2015

    Are you dragging your fatigued, hurried, living-on-fumes self to tackle herculean tasks? What if you showed up tomorrow nourished by the One who is peace, rest, joy? If you brought a rested, nurtured, centered soul indwelled by the presence of Jesus to the ones you serve? What difference would it make for others to experience the power of your rested soul?

    This quote is going in my journal!  I have always been that person running from one thing to the next, serving here, serving there….to the point of exhaustion… but still running.  I’m thankful that the Lord has slowed me down and is teaching me to ‘breathe’ and to ‘be still’.  Still struggle with the idea of ‘caring for myself’…deeper stuff there, but know that my running around can do a lot more damage than good.  Thank you for this beautiful post!

    1. Patty Stallings May 8, 2015

      Dear Monica, I too am a recovering runner and know how hard it is to sit, breathe, quiet my soul.  But once you get a taste of His rest, it becomes irresistible, right?  A thought that keeps me on the path fragrant with His rest and kindness is knowing those I serve need far more than I can offer in my own strength and wisdom.  What they need most is to encounter the Presence of Jesus.  What a privilege to be the bearer of His Presence!

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