A few years ago I found myself in a place I never thought I would be.
I was emotionally, mentally and in every other way done. I wish I had another word to describe this feeling I had other than “done.” But for those who have been in that place, no other word is needed.
And I’m not talking about just having a bad day or long season. I mean I was ready to walk. I had lost hope. I had lost all sense of joy. And somewhere along the way, I had lost bits of my soul.
There was no great conflict or problem. No cataclysmic event. Just the stresses of raising a family of six children and building a successful ministry. In fact, from the outside, it probably seemed as if everything was going well. But the truth was that on the inside I was just done with it all.
I looked around at this family and church and lifestyle I had helped to create and I had nothing. Wasn’t giving of yourself supposed to be the path to righteousness? At what point was I supposed to feel at peace? I was equally mad at myself and this culture, because I felt I had been lied to along the way. Where was this joy that is supposed to come out of sacrificing myself? I felt the bitterness start to seep in. I remember thinking if something did not change, I would self-destruct and take my family along with me.
And I knew that could not happen. Something had to change.
And this verse was a steady whisper, echoing within my mind, “What good is it for you to gain the whole world but lose your soul?”
My soul was dying, yet I had no idea how to prevent its last breath from escaping to nothing.
I had been in church for the last 20 years, so how had the health of my soul escaped me? I thought if you prayed and served and gave and sought after all of the good things, then everything would fall into place. Your soul would be magically healed and whole and restored.
But it didn’t work for me. And that started my quest to find whole healing of my soul. And like most journeys, it started with small, tentative steps. It started with more fails than triumphs.
There were lots of prayers and lots of tears as I began to find my way back to healing and the restoration of my soul.
I cried out to God and searched for God and prayed He would just make it all better in my soul. But as is often the case, God had a different plan of healing. He had a plan of restoration that I had to work through and strive for and fight for, with Him encouraging and guiding me every step of the way.
So these last few years have been a journey to finding healing.
There are so many twists and turns and dead ends and reroutes on this journey, and I know many more to come. And so many lessons along the way. While some are personal for my eyes only, there are some that are universal to share with others.
I have learned about me and the Lover and Creator of my soul.
I have learned to love myself in new ways, and even allow myself to love myself. In turn, I have learned to love these people that surround me as souls created in the image of God.
I have learned there is so much more to this life we live. We are so much more than spiritual or physical beings.
I have learned that we are:
And those parts of us are not mutually exclusive but they exist together in this beautiful dance of a symbiotic, cohesive, interdependent relationship.
I have learned you cannot feed one part of your soul while neglecting the others.
And I have learned it is solely my responsibility to feed my soul, not my husband’s, not my friends and, most certainly, not my children’s. It is mine and mine alone. My responsibility is to seek out the Creator of my soul and partner in this healing dance. This dance He knows so well, this dance He choreographed for just me and Him, I just have to follow His lead.
My soul does not automatically rejuvenate, it must be fed and cared for and nourished, just like this body and mind and every other aspect of life. And I am the only one who is responsible for the condition of my soul. I am the only one who must give it the sustenance that it needs.
The beginning of this journey was laden with heartache and pain and disappointment. But as God does so beautifully, He turned that turmoil into this beautiful adventure of rediscovering me and rediscovering Him. He created beauty from the ashes. He brought joy out of mourning. He gave hope to this hopeless one.
He restored my soul.
Christie OBrien is a wife to a pastor and mother of six children, adopted and biological. She is a speaker and teacher. Recently, she has been on an amazing journey to restore her soul, while encouraging others to do the same. You can read more about her at christieobrien.com.
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