Updated on April 10, 2016
Updated on April 10, 2016
Think about the word, SOUL. What does it mean to you?
To some it’s music, to others food. Many think of the soul as that part of us that lives on after our earthly bodies give out.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary gives another possibility,
A person’s deeply felt and emotional nature. I like that!
However you define it, it’s not something you can see or tangibly feel. Yet, it’s very real. You don’t have to believe in God to believe in the soul. When we refer to something as soulful, we often think of the emotion it makes us feel or of the way it stirs something in us. Food that conjures up memories is soulful. Music that makes us cry or dance is soulful. It causes emotion to rise up from deep within us. That’s the essence of the soul, a person’s deeply felt and emotional nature.
I read something this week about how our souls need a safe place to come out. I had to think about that for a few minutes, because to bare my soul means that I bring to the surface emotions that I feel deeply. They are vulnerable to criticism and judgment. They will wilt at the slightest hint of disapproval. Yet, I long to bring them out and lay them bare anyway. I need the emotional connection with others, and honesty and vulnerability are the soil in which deep connections grow.
Did you know that it’s impossible to emotionally connect with someone while you are judging or criticizing them? It’s true. If you’re telling me about your awful day at work, and how you hung up on someone and called them a terrible name, and all I’m thinking about is how that was a really bad thing to do and how you shouldn’t have done that, I’m judging you. You’re not asking me to fix you by telling you what you should have done. You’re reaching out for me to listen to your complaint and show you that I value and care about you.
You’re looking for a safe place for your soul to come out. I’m looking to control the outcome.
I did exactly that this week. I sat down, turned my attention toward him, listened to the details of a situation that happened during the work day, and I put my manager hat on and started to come up with all sorts of solutions to the problem and what he could have done differently. Trouble is, I’m not his manager, I’m his wife.
There, on the back patio, that should be the safe zone. That should be the place where control and judgment and criticism should be laid aside, and our souls can be bared. There, we should sit on the bench together, souls coming out without the need to control the outcomes.
(The phrase, If I wanted your opinion I would have asked for it, comes to mind.)
Sometimes I fear that I don’t have enough room inside my head and my heart to bear the weight of the souls of others. Sometimes, I think that keeps me from letting others come out. But Jesus never asked me to bear the weight of the souls of others, he simply asked me to be with them as he is with us. His with-ness never imposed outcomes on others. He simply loved. He bore our sins. He didn’t ask us to do the same.
My prayer for this week is that I would continually be aware of the fragile nature of the souls of people around me. That I would make room for them without criticism and judgment, and without the need to control outcomes. My prayer is that the Spirit would remind me to be with and in the with-ness treat the souls of others gently and carefully.
Would you join me in that this week?
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