Tending To Your Soul
What is it about Sundays lately that makes me feel sad? I know – because I tell people all the time – that you have to listen to what your emotions are telling you. Not that we should live our lives according to our feelings, but they do serve a purpose. If you find yourself feeling angry, or hurt, or sad more often than usual, you might want to pay attention. There’s probably a reason for it. So I’m asking myself, what is the sadness telling me?
I’m torn between a strange dichotomy – I am longing for connection, to belong, and at the same time I’m longing for rest and solitude. And I am realizing I haven’t been doing a great job of tending to my soul. My work is all about tending to other people’s souls, and I want to be the kind of wife and mother and daughter and friend who nourishes that deepest part of the people close to me, but sometimes I forget that the deepest part of me needs that same nurturing. If I wait around in expectation of someone else doing it for me, I’m neglecting the responsibility that God has given me for being a good steward of my own body, mind, emotions and spirit.
It’s the “hidden in plain sight” part of the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. The part that implies that of course we would love ourselves. It’s not selfish to love yourself. It’s healthy. It’s good, responsible, pleasing to God. And absolutely essential.
These dog days of summer have completely deflated my dreams of a thriving vegetable garden. Between the heat and the mosquitoes, the rabbits eating all the kale and possums stealing the tomatoes, I haven’t been super motivated to pour gallons and gallons of water into it just to harvest a couple of jalapeno peppers. So…I’ve stopped tending to the garden. As you would expect, it’s dry and parched and not giving us much.
Kind of like our souls when we stop tending to our own deepest needs for community and rest and creativity and play. I’m learning I have to listen to these longings. What makes me cry and what gives me joy and what infuriates me. These are puzzle pieces that fit together and reveal a bigger picture of who I’m designed to be.
Last week before Amber left for Florida, the three of us (Amber, Alyssa and I) went for a walk. Pushing Cyrus and “Butterfly” in their strollers, we talked about the things that have weighed heavy on our minds lately. Turns out we’ve all three been feeling isolated and disconnected. We know this, that we are made for connection and belonging, and yet staying connected takes intentionality and sometimes sacrifice.
Then there’s the flip side of my soul. My introvert’s heart also craves regular alone time to rest and refuel. And I haven’t been protecting this. I’m realizing more and more that the command to keep the Sabbath holy is not optional. It’s there because we NEED it.
And for me, another part of tending to my soul is nurturing creativity. The adventurer part of me is easily bored and restless when life is a series of repetitions of the same day lived over and over again. I long for things new and fresh and exciting.
The signs are obvious when I haven’t been tending to my soul. I’m cranky and easily irritated. Small things feel like big things. I want to hang a “closed” sign around my neck or run away to a place where no one requires or expects anything from me. Like my dried-up garden, I don’t have much to offer the people I’m called to nourish. I am parched and thirsty for something that will refresh me down in the depths of my being.
So I’m listening to my longings and asking God to align them with His. I’m reclaiming Sunday as a day of rest and worship and replenishing. I’m carving out space and time for catching up with friends. I’m giving myself permission to occasionally spend some time alone, doing something fun and creative and NOT on my to-do list.
Tossing and turning with my thoughts at 3am, I remember the invitation to come and drink from the well that won’t run dry…
Have you been tending to your own soul or are you also feeling dry, parched, & empty? What can you do today to feed your soul?