How do you care for your soul? Do you ever feel like a juice box that’s been sucked dry by people sticking a straw into you?! This was the question I asked a 100 ministry leaders/caregivers, mothers, and pastors’ wives at a church conference recently.
When I come home from a day of caring for pastors’ wives and ministry leaders in my therapy office what does soul care look like for me? I could go into the freezer and get out some chocolate Bon Bons and “veg” in front of the television! But would that rejuvenate me? Would it nourish my soul?
It’d be better for me to sit down to relax in a favorite chair, knowing that my cat Charlie will be sure to jump up in my lap for some cuddles! Or I could process my feelings about my day with my husband. Or I could go for a prayer walk with Jesus around the lake near our home to soak up some sunshine.
Do You Rest in God’s Grace?
We’re wise to set aside sugary distractions and to delight in the Lover who restores our souls. If we’re not fully satisfied in our relationship with Jesus then we’ll burn out from serving God and caring for others. For our soul care and to Prevent Burnout we need to connect with God’s Grace, which is not just “unmerited favor” — it’s God acting in our lives with kindness and power. Practicing spiritual disciplines helps us to experience God’s gracious action in our lives.
But maybe this sounds like work to you? Maybe when you’re tired it’s not appealing to “do a discipline”? Maybe the Bon Bons and television sound better?!
I tell pastors’ wives and other ministry leaders/caregivers that if they’re too tired to initiate anything for their soul care then then they do need rest. When I feel tired I like to take a nap in the sun. Or on a cool evening I like to relax in a Jacuzzi. But here’s the key: what are you doing with your mind while you relax? Is your mind being renewed by God?
A Soul Care Meditation
For instance, if you’ve already memorized Psalm 131 (training yourself in this discipline to help you grow in God’s grace) then when you find yourself exhausted it’s easy to care for your soul under God: you simply lie down and start meditating, “Yahweh, my heart has no lofty ambitions…” Then you can start casting off the lofty ambitions about what you think you should be doing and the guilt you’re feeling.
As you continue praying through this short Psalm you’ll come to, “It’s enough for me to keep my soul tranquil and quiet like a child in its mother’s arms.” My cat sleeping and purring is like that in my lap! We can be that way with Jesus! As we say in our Psalm 131 meditation, “Jesus is Enough for Me!” and he cares for our souls!
If you don’t believe that God truly cares for your soul like a mother nurturing her small child then you’re going to try to secure yourself. And that will create anxiety and leave you empty.
We need to have the vision that Jesus really does offer us living waters to satisfy our deepest thirst. We have to get to the point that we’re enthralled with Jesus and then discover that he alone is our true source of soul care.