If you’ve been on earth for five minutes, you have heard the mantras we like to say: be yourself, take care of yourself, protect yourself, love yourself, defend yourself, and express yourself.
But, in the words of John Ortberg in his book Soul Keeping:
“What if your self is a train wreck? What do you do then? The more obsessed we are with our selves, the more we neglect our souls.”
For many years I’ve considered the soul to be that part of you that houses your mind (the thoughts you think), your emotions (the things you feel), and your will (the choices you make). In short, I’ve heard it said that our souls are a combination of our thinker, our feeler, and our chooser.
Add them together and what have you got? Your soul!
I still think that for the most part, but I’m not sure it’s so easily outlined anymore. We worship an incomprehensible God, both knowable and mysterious.
As people who are made in his image, we are perhaps more incomprehensible than we are outline-able. So I want to respect the mystery that is humanity while, at the same time, not make our souls more mysterious than they need to be.
Soul whiplash is real, though, isn’t it? I can define that one pretty well. It happens to the most faithful and spiritually mature among us. I’ve been reflecting on why I think it happens to me and maybe you, too.
When I picture the shape of our soul, I imagine not a line straight up and down but a circle curved in on itself. Like a donut, our soul needs a fixed point around which to revolve. What we put in that center is our choice, to be sure. But the results will show up in how we live, how we relate, and how we see the world.
If I place the circumstances of my life in the center? That’s what my soul will revolve around, as evidenced by the shame and anxiety I feel when I’m left out and overlooked or the elation I feel when I’m chosen and praised.
Good circumstances lead to good feelings and experience.
Bad circumstances lead to bad feelings and experience.
Do you ever get tired of this cycle? I sure do.
I, a mature grown person, actually told John once how I wish I could take a pill that would make me not so moveable.
A faith pill. Or an apple maybe? Eat this, then you will be like God.
Sometimes the lie makes simple solutions sound like such a relief, doesn’t it? But here’s the truth:
“If your soul is healthy, no external circumstance can destroy your life. If your soul is unhealthy, no external circumstance can redeem your life.” – John Ortberg, Soul Keeping
I write about the soul because I believe deep in my bones that invisible things are real.
I also believe that because the soul invisible, it is often forgotten beneath the demands of everyday life. It’s easy for me to get tangled up in a fast-paced world, distracted by hustle, driven to produce, hungry to ship.
But that’s a language the soul doesn’t speak.
Creating space for my soul to breathe is about respecting the daily pauses I need to be fully myself so that I can be present with God and faithful in my home, my work, and my community.
I write here to help you create that space, too.
If you feel like having margin is too much like being lazy, then maybe this will help you to know: It takes more work to create margin than it does to stay busy.
Busy is the default.
Margin takes intention.
Ask me how I know.
After the release of Simply Tuesday last week, my time has looked like this:
And while it has been so fun for both me and for my family, my soul has been asking for a little more of this:
I set yesterday aside as a day to regroup: to think, to walk, to reflect and to pray. But it didn’t come easy. I still had to make lunches, still had to drive the girls to and from school, still had to answer a few timely emails.
But in between, I chose to honor the longing for stillness and quiet and managed to carve out some time in the middle of the day.
I haven’t walked away from that time with answers or clear vision necessarily.
But there is still value in creating space for the soul even if you have nothing to show for it.
To spend time in the presence of God without an agenda does not come naturally for most of us. But how desperately we need it.
Here are a few things I hope will help you create space for your soul to breathe this week:
Free Video Series
If you haven’t signed up for this yet, I hope you will. You can watch the first video here and then sign up to receive the next four in your inbox, where I share practical ways to take a soul breath even in the midst of your busy life.
Free Conversation Guide
You have about 24 hours left to download the Simply Tuesday Conversation Guide when you purchase a book. I’ve written this for anyone who wants to read the book with a group, including everything you’ll need to have a conversation that matters. All you have to do is visit this page, fill out your purchase information, and you’ll be able to download the guide for free through tomorrow.
Sharing Simply Tuesday
And this one won’t help your soul breathe but it might be fun – I’m giving away a bundle for you and one of your Tuesday people! Here’s what you get and how to win:
- $100 Barnes and Noble gift card (one for you + one for your friend)
- personalized signed copy of Simply Tuesday (one for you + one for your friend)
- a Tuesday tee (one for you + one for your friend)
- a calendar pack (one for, you guessed it, you and your friend)
How to enter:
- Take a photo of your copy of Simply Tuesday and share it either on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or all three using #SharingSimplyTuesday, bearing in mind if your accounts are set to private, we won’t be able to see it.
- Tag me (I’m @emilypfreeman everywhere) either in your photo or the comments as well as the Tuesday friend you’ll share the bundle with. We’re looking for fun and creative and will pick a winner accordingly. (US entries only – so sorry my international friends – but you don’t have a B&N, do you?)
I’m extending the giveaway through the weekend and will announce the winner on Monday August 31.
Have fun! And here’s to a day filled with more heart and less hustle.