“How’s the state of your Soul?”
In our line of work, it’s a question we often get asked. Sometimes it’s rhetorical, from the stage at a conference. Other times it’s a counselor or friend, lovingly prying into your life and asking you the questions that need to be asked.
It feels like it is being chipped away at, little by little.
Many things add to that feeling; the fact that we work with people, that I work with my spouse, that we work primarily with students whose cerebral cortexes (the rational part of the brain) aren’t fully developed, that we live in a country riddled with bureaucratic red tape and ridiculous processes (remind me to tell you about how it has taken me three weeks to buy a television for our student center…), a potty training puppy who hates the rain and a long rainy season, and, you know, just the general fact that we live in a fallen world. For those reasons, and others, my soul feels like it’s taking a beating, one little chink in the armor at a time. I’m sure you have your things too.
Before this morning I would have answered the question with a word picture similar to that of chinks in my armor, wood that keeps getting sanded down little by little, a stone gradually changing form from the constant beating of the waves, etc.
But then I read this:
“The soul is elastic, like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering. Loss can enlarge its capacity for anger, depression, despair, & anguish, all natural & legitimate emotions whenever we experience loss. Once enlarged, the soul is also capable of experiencing greater joy, strength, peace, & love. However painful, sorrow is good for the soul.” Jerry Sisttser
Now, I’m under no delusions that my potty training puppy is on the same level as the loss he is referencing. I know it’s a “first world problem.”
But I so appreciate the contrast between his picture of the soul and my picture of mine. Mine is finite and shrinking fast, withering away to nothingness. His is growing, expanding, fluid, and the “bad” things add value and size to it.
We all know that growth is often painful. I wouldn’t describe this enlarging of the soul as a necessarily fun experience. But it’s a lot more hopeful to think about than a shrinking stone. And there is comfort in knowing that “however painful, sorrow is good for the soul.”
I still hope that the rainy season will end soon, but after that I’m sure the Lord will see fit to choose to enlarge my soul in another way, perhaps so that I might experience greater joy because my soul’s “muscles” have been so inflated and exercised they are capable of growing in that direction as well.
How is God enlarging your soul right now?