Neglecting the Care of Your Soul

What Do You Hope to Gain When You’re Neglecting the Care of Your Soul?

In August, I injured my back–poor timing indeed with canning to do, tomatoes to pick, lawns to mow, and a family beach day on the calendar. Nevertheless, I know the drill: ice, rest, ibuprofen, repeat. I can cheat and be “more productive,” but, when I do, I’m just slowing down the healing process.

Which makes me wonder about all the other ways I try to cheat myself out of resting. At bedtime, I trade an extra half hour of reading (maybe a dozen pages?) for a slow and silent unwinding in the dark. What I have gained is a slow and reluctant rising at 5 a.m.

Rest as Soul Care

Even though I know the secret to a well-rested rising starts the night before, and even though I’m well aware that a rested body carries a chronic illness far better than a tired body, still I unload the dishwasher, putter in the laundry room, or read “just one more chapter” instead of taking myself by the scruff of the neck and putting myself to bed. I exchange my version of productivity for the rest my body and soul need.

As usual, there’s a bigger question on the table here than simple time management. Jesus framed the question in a way that reaches across the centuries and calls us to a deeper and more intentional discipleship:

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 

Matthew 16:26

Knowing the importance of rest in a life of faithful and sensible soul care, what exactly am I prepared to hand over in exchange for my soul?

Friends in Formation, a Renovaré podcast, took on the topic of rest in a recent episode, and Richella Parham threw down a challenge: “Stop working at 8:00 p.m. and see what happens. Do you worry? Do you feel unworthy?”

That anxious feeling may point to an insufficient understanding of the gospel. Resting is not laziness, failure, or irresponsibility. Furthermore, the most important work of securing my soul has already been accomplished in Christ.

In Exchange for Your Soul

What does a woman hope to gain in return for handing her soul over to some futile pursuit? Have you asked yourself the same question? Maybe rest isn’t the issue for you, but in some way, you’re giving up something your soul needs, handing over your soul to some other pursuit in hopes of “gaining the world.”

What does “gaining the world” mean for you?

  • A clean house?
  • The approval of “the inner ring?”
  • A career boost?
  • A bigger following?
  • A bigger bank balance?
  • A smaller jean size?

What are you willing to sacrifice?
And what will be the ultimate cost to your soul?

Knowing the importance of #rest in a life of faithful and sensible soul care, what exactly am I prepared to hand over in exchange for my soul? Resting is not laziness, failure, or irresponsibility.

And Now Let’s Talk Books…

Christian Poetry in America Since 1940

When I homeschooled my kids, our routine included a poem a day. I’m sure I enjoyed it far more my sons, but it’s a rhythm of life I recommend–in spite of the challenge of selling its merits to a band of boys.

This year, Paraclete Press has published an anthology of Christian Poetry in America Since 1940, providing a scholarly and immersive head-to-toe baptism into the modes and voices of contemporary Christian verse. The brief biographies preceding each featured poet were like program notes before a concert.

However, if you are more of the “poem a day” type of reader, this book still belongs on your nightstand as a daily (or nightly) companion, a vitamin for the soul.

A scholarly and immersive head-to-toe baptism into the modes and voices of contemporary Christian verse: Christian Poetry in America, a new anthology via @paracletepress!

Editors Micah Mattix and Sally Thomas have selected representative works of diverse styles but common focus. Borrowing from C.S. Lewis, they make the helpful distinction that a Christian poet is not “bringing into existence beauty or wisdom which did not exist before, but simply and solely… trying to embody in terms of his own art some reflection of eternal Beauty and Wisdom.”

Since each poem is distinctly Christian in subject matter, the reader is invited to join Marjorie Maddox’s picturesque lament on “the human beneath” all our fragile piety; to receive the gift of Timothy Murphy’s gently-rhymed psalms and prayers; to ponder Julia Spicher Kasdorf’s perspicacious commentary on her Mennonite heritage; and to receive joyfully Tania Runyan’s exhortation that the fruit of the Spirit “aren’t commandments, but signs.”

Poetry meets faith at the intersection of comprehension and application. I’m jolted awake whenever timeless truth comes to me through the lens of fresh expression.

Holding you in the Light,

Is It Time for You to “Get to Know God?”

I recently heard from a reader, awake at 3:00 a.m., and downloading my latest free resource: “Although I have been a follower most of my life I have never really tried to get to know God.” She had decided that Isaiah 43 was a good place to start.

How about you?

This guided meditation based on Isaiah 43 highlights the truth that we live and work according to our concept of God. What if you began every day with the conviction that God, YOUR God identifies himself as the God who does a new thing, who makes a path through the wilderness, who blots out your transgressions and says, “Fear not!”

I’m committed to the truth that women can become confident followers of God and students of his word, and it’s my goal to provide resources to help you along that path. Subscribers receive them automatically, and you can receive your copy by simply entering your email and then clicking on the button below…

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I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and an affiliate of The Joyful Life Magazine, two advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Many thanks to Paraclete Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

45 thoughts on “What Do You Hope to Gain When You’re Neglecting the Care of Your Soul?”

  1. Interesting post. I think most people don’t understand what nourishes them. For me it’s def art and the arts. Grappling with intellectual ideas. Learning. I’m now trying to make more space for that. #Anythinggoes

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  2. We make choices regularly trading what we know we SHOULD do for what we WANT to to do. Making more and more correct choices comes a bit easier with age and experience I find.

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  3. I’ve always read Matthew 16:26 in light of our soul’s destiny in the future, not in light of our soul’s health in the present. A new perspective! Also appreciated this statement: “Resting is not laziness, failure, or irresponsibility.” You’ve reminded me: 1) what SEEMS good in the moment may not be what’s best in the long run, and 2) to be more mindful of how I’m spending my time and attention. (That list of “gain-the-world” activities? Very helpful!) Thank you, Michele!

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  4. I need to chase down that podcast. My mind knows to stop and rest, but the ego keeps wanting to push on and finish one more thing, one more thing, so I can rest more tomorrow. But God wants us to find rest in every day, one day at a time. Good insights here again, Michele. Thanks, friend.

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  5. Your challenge question about what I’m willing to give up in exchange for my soul hit home. Like you, I tend to do “just one more thing” or “stay up a little longer” thinking I’ll be able to check more off my to-do list or that I AM resting by reading too late. And when I do, I’m not as productive or as rested as God would have me be. I needed the reminder to examine myself and choose what is better, as Mary did when she sat at Jesus’ feet.

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  6. Thank you for being one of the first to comment on my new website! Did you leave another comment saying you were receiving unwanted notifications after you left a comment? I think it was spam, but I want to make sure. No reply necessary if this wasn’t you.

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  7. Michele,
    I’m sitting here feeling like a useless blob. I needed to hear resting is not laziness, failure, or irresposibility. I’m so impatient with myself — soul care often means allowing more than one down day before bouncing back into the fray. Wise words.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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  8. Thank you Michele, for helping us remember what is really important. I am constantly surprised at what I sacrifice for such insignificant things! Oh how nourishing lingering with Jesus really is!

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  9. I usually stop work after the dinner dishes are cleaned up. But I often stay up too late reading or frittering away time on apps on my tablet (playing Words with Friends with my sisters. 🙂 ) Sometimes it’s hard when a choice is not a sinful choice in itself, but it’s not the best choice for the need of the moment–like getting to bed in order to be refreshed for the next day. So often the choice is between good and best.

    Hope your back feels better soon!

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  10. Oh, I’m right there with you–trying to stay up later to read one more chapter!! But you’re so right– resting isn’t laziness. Both our bodies and our souls need rest, especially the rest Jesus has already secured for us! I pray your back heals well, and you can get the rest you need, Michele!

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  11. What a timely post as I sit here late afternoon trying to keep my eyes open after a restless night of sleep with my “to do” list running through my head.

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  12. oh you’re speaking my language girl. during all the drama and trauma of the past few years, I’ve slowly made rest a daily goal. physically, relationally, emotionally, mentally with spiritual rest the wellspring from which every other kind of rest comes from.

    i’m not sure where i’d be right now if God hadn’t led me in that direction. people don’t always understand, but that’s ok. i’m playing to an audience of One.

    this works.

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  13. sigh. i think my rather un-profound comment got swallowed alive by my laptop. all to say amen and thank you for speaking truth about the need for rest. spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally. some of us have learned the hard way what happens when when we head the other direction.

    i never want to go there again.

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  14. Rest is what God is beckoning me to do. The timing of your post was excellent. Thank you for sharing with Grace & Truth Link-Up.
    I am sharing it on my Grace & Truth Pinterest board.
    Maree

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  15. I’m sorry about you hurting your back, Michele. Do take care.
    I too need to take a lot more rest and your post is a fantastic reminder – especially these lines: Resting is not laziness, failure, or irresponsibility.

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