Is your soul frazzled? Troubled? Fried?
Life, and especially life right now, is wearing us out. Finishing us off. And the Bible predicts that it’s only going to get worse.
Monday was the cherry on top of a stressful 10 days for me, and by the afternoon I knew I needed help. My inclination was to scroll through Facebook (again).
Was that the answer though?
I like how John Eldredge summarises what we need when we feel frazzled, and what we are going to need in the times ahead:
“We’re going to want our souls strong and ready for the days ahead, filled with God, not fried and empty. So we must practice soul care.” [i]
What does practicing soul care look like?
We have two choices:
Relief is momentary; numbing and sedating. It provides a temporary escape from reality, but doesn’t restore the soul.
We reach for relief because it’s immediate and usually within our grasp – Netflix, chocolate, shopping, pornography.
But once the movie is over reality returns. Once the chocolate is gone we worry about what the scale’s going to say tomorrow, plus everything else we were worried about before.
Here’s what relief looks like:
On the other hand, restoration strengthens us to face trial and difficulty. It gives peace, calm thinking, and revives our zest for life.
Here’s what restoration looks like:
Relief leaves us tired, unsettled, and unready to face the demands of life. It tends to destroy the relish for life’s sober realities and tranquil enjoyments.
Restoration energises, renews vigour and empowers us to face life’s challenges. It provides refreshment for the mind and body and enables us to return to life with new enthusiasm.
In Psalm 23 David speaks of God leading him beside green pastures and still waters, and then he says, “He restoreth my soul” (Psalm 23:3).
David knew where to find restoration. And, while he didn’t have technology, he knew restoration did not lie in the crowded marketplaces, the parties, or the public games.
He understood that “Nature heals, teaches, strengthens, soothes; it brings us the presence of God, for ‘The whole earth is filled with His glory’ (Isaiah 6:3 NLT).” [ii]
Let’s go back to my Monday.
I was weary and tempted to scroll through Facebook instead of doing something restorative, but I chose restoration over relief.
I went for a walk. Sat on the grass. Let out some deep breaths, and felt myself reviving. I came home and peeled oranges and felt strength trickling back into my core.
The choice between relief and restoration is one we all have – even if we don’t have access to a lot of nature.
Just do real things. Get outside every day. Touch nature – feel the rough bark on a tree trunk, pick up stones, grow something in a pot. Dig in the garden. Lie on your back and watch the clouds. Chop vegetables.
Let yourself sense God’s presence again, and let your soul get strong.
You’re going to need it.
What do you choose when life is hard? Relief or restoration?
[i] John Eldredge, Get Your Life Back, 134
[ii] John Eldredge, Get Your Life Back, 89