In my late 20’s I was like the woman of the old Enjoli perfume commercial who sings, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never let you forget you’re a man, ‘cause I’m a WOMAN!” And seductively she whispers, Enjoli!
People looking at my life saw me as pretty, wealthy, and successful at work and home. I had my Doctorate in Psychology with a part-time therapy practice. I served in our megachurch as a speaker and leader in the Young Families’ ministry. I was married to a handsome man, accomplished as a therapist and author. I had a great home in Southern California and two wonderful children, ages one and three.
But secretly, I felt discontent, insecure, depressed, ashamed.
I tried to talk myself out of those feelings because I knew I was blessed by God and had dedicated my work and family to God.
I believed my negative emotions were the problem so I hid them. No one knew the broken places in my heart and soul.
If social media had been a thing back then I would have had impressive posts every day to show the world that I was happy and successful. Mostly, I was trying to convince myself!
The truth is I was exhausted from keeping up with the Joneses and managing everything in my career, family, and home.
I wish I had known back then about the stages of faith that we unpack in Journey of the Soul.
Bill and I were both overdoing in the stage of Responsibilities in Ministry. (The R Stage in the CHRIST stages.)
That’s the stage when you keep doing more to help people, serve in the church, or achieve for God. But if you’re not careful to keep good limits ministry will crowd out your intimacy with God and soul care. Then losing touch with God’s grace and tender love for you personally will diminish your joy, patience, and compassion.
To keep pushing and rising is the way of our culture. To be more productive and successful we may repress our emotions, longings, and needs. If you keep doing that then eventually you’ll hit The Wall and get stuck in your growth. (Bill and I have each encountered this more than once.)
Digging into feelings is where the Spirit leads us at this point in the journey. We call this stage the Inner Journey (or I Stage in the CHRIST path of growth).
Here are three practices to receive God’s grace for your inner person:
- Pray a Psalm or journal your emotions
- Meditate on a Scripture that strengthens your desire to love Christ (like Philippians 3:7-14)
- Talk with a Spiritual Director who asks great questions, listens with empathy, and guides you to follow Jesus
Over time inner journey work can bring you more joy, more life, more intimacy with God and others, more Spirit-filled presence, and more power to do loving work. That’s because real faith has real feelings.
Journey of the Soul guides and strengthens you to follow Jesus with authenticity, devotion to God, and love for people.
Listen to this week’s SoulTalk: Bill and Kristi have an honest and open conversation about how the role of emotions helps us go deeper in our journey with the Lord. Hear from them about what it looks like to walk into the Intimacy with Jesus stage, where we long for God’s presence and develop a deeper spiritual passion. You’ll finish this episode with encouragement and practical next steps.