Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

WisBits Archive

July 2007

Talking to your Soul

Think about those habits you can’t overcome. Those feelings that overwhelm you. Those sinful tendencies that don’t go away. Here’s an odd idea—perhaps we could, like the psalmist, talk to our soul about these things.

Your soul, as stated in Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice (pp. 136-150) {link} is what is running your life at any given moment. It integrates the other parts of you (mind, feelings, will, body, social dimension) and is almost beyond your conscious awareness. It’s like a stream of inner water, giving you strength and direction (or perhaps draining you when it’s not in good shape). The psalmist’s soul thirsted for God. (Psalm 63:1). Mary’s soul “magnified the Lord” (Luke 1:46). Jesus told us to come to him when weary and heavy-laden and our soul would find rest in him (Matthew 11:29).

But talking to your soul? Here are some things the psalmist to his or her soul: Be strong; Why are you downcast?; Find rest; Be at rest once more; Awake!; Bless the Lord (Judges 5:21; Psalm 43:5; 62:5; 116:7; 57:8; 103:1). It occurred to me that when I wake up at night, I usually repeat the Taize song, “Bless the Lord, my Soul” to move back into sleep. And it works! Uhm--have I already been singing to my soul in the night?

It sounded goofy, but I decided to talk to my soul about those things that are so hard to overcome. As I looked at the psalmists’ topics above, I decided to talk to my soul about rest. If my soul could rest, it would direct my mind not to go over things that bother me. It would direct my hands to stop stuffing chips in my mouth. It would direct my feelings not to be concerned when I am overlooked or minimized. Instead I could rest. While I have certain disciplines in place to tackle all those things, I decided that perhaps my soul (almost beyond my conscious awareness) might be sabotaging me and it needed to be retrained to rest.

So I took a deep breath, speaking very gently and saying Psalm 116:7 to my soul: “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.” I reassured my soul that it could rest, that the Lord really is my shepherd. The Lord would provide every single thing I needed so it was OK for my soul to lay down in green pastures. The shepherd would keep the wolves away so my soul could take it easy. Then I quietly listed for my soul all the ways the Lord has been good to me. (Writing to your soul might work better for you.)

I’m still experimenting with this but what I like best is that talking to my soul replaces the stuff that goes on inside me that isn’t so good. It gives me a place to go during temptation. It gives me a positive “next step” when I’m stuck. May your soul find rest—and whatever else it lacks-- in God today.

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson




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