Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Soul Appetite

I started a new habit awhile back. It's amazing how a simple choice can have widespread and welcome benefits.

One of the first things I do in the morning is drink approximately a glass full of water. I am not a morning person, so I usually wake up groggy. I used to think my body was shouting for coffee, but no, it needs, craves water. If you sleep 6-8 hours a night, likely you likely haven't had anything to drink in that time. And, even if you did, your body needs more.

Drinking water first thing helps clear my head and wake me up. And, it makes me want more water throughout the day. I am now daily drinking more water than I ever have and I feel better. It's easy to become dehydrated, and in this climate, it happens quickly.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to realize my body needs water, not coffee, first thing in the morning. I have also cut back on drinking sodas - what I thought my body "needed" is not true.

I often don't know what I really need as an individual on so many levels - physically, spiritually, relationally, emotionally.

Earlier this year I read "Soul Keeping," by John Ortberg. In it, I learned that the soul, the most important part of you, is often the most ignored and neglected part. But, when our souls are healthy, the whole of us can be healthy, too. And, this can only happen when my soul is in sync with God.

"The soul is the aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in various dimensions of the self. The soul is the life center of human beings." (Dallas Willard, quoted in "Soul Keeping")

The soul has a big job - correlating and integrating our will, mind, and body. Each of these also seem to have their own will and desires that drive them. The will can vacillate between my human will and God's will for me. The mind has thoughts and feelings constantly flowing through it. The body is "filled with all kinds of appetites and all kinds of habits."1

For example, I may "will" to rise early to spend time in God's Word, but when the 6 a.m. alarm goes off, I don't not "feel" like crawling out of bed, instead focusing on tired thoughts and not yet wanting to face the day. My body doesn't help, especially if I haven't trained it in a habit of rising early and it greatly desires sleep. The soul, then, has a big challenge to make sure my will, mind, and body are on the right track and working in sync.

Too often though the needs and desires of my mind, will, and body are deafening compared to the quiet whispers of my soul for rest, for peace, for solitude. And because I am so used to giving in to my will, mind, and body and their whining and their tantrums, I give in.

My mind wants to watch a television show, but my soul does not need it.

My body craves sweets, caffeine and carbs, but those aren't good for my overall health.

My will demands for its own way, but rebels against God's life-giving commands.

And, when these three dominate, my soul is left shrinking and dying, ignored and neglected in a corner.

What happens when my soul is given what it needs - communion and union with God, peace, rest, solitude, freedom, blessing? It gains strength and courage to rightly corral the wily, rebellious parts of me into an integrated, whole person - able to relate well with God, with others, with the whole of creation.

What does your soul need? Or rather what is your soul craving? Have you, like me, given too much time and attention to the cravings and yearnings of our wayward wills, minds, and bodies?

Take time to pause, pray, and listen. Ask God care about the health and condition of your soul. Remember, it's the most important part of you.

1 Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You, by John Ortberg