I’ve been writing and speaking for at least a decade on Soul Things. My favorite women’s event is a Soul Spa retreat where I get to reflect with women on Soul Care. We explore Soul Dehydration, Soul Damage and Soul Soothers. I love to talk about the age old Spiritual Disciplines which, packaged for today, are Soul Connectors, helping us to get anchored in God like our forefathers and foremothers did. I’m now working on Soul Tending in Uncertain Times and can’t wait to share that with others.
This week was the first time I’d ever thought about Soul Insults. Glennon Doyle brought it to my attention in her new book, Untamed. The whole book is about what cages our souls. She writes of the things we and others use to bury our sense of Knowing: addictions, cultural conditioning, institutional allegiances. I would add to this our need to be nice, politics and a thousand other things. She writes of having to get sober and quiet enough to be able to tune in, in silence, to what her soul was telling her. Once she learned to listen deeply, she was free. I could so relate.
Toward the end of the book she quotes this line by Walt Whitman from the introduction to The Leaves of Grass: Dismiss whatever insults your own soul….
Those words, written in the 1800s by a man who looked like he lived in our current pandemic, leapt off the page at me.
How many times do we tune out what insults our own soul, our own God-given knowing? How many times do we discount what our heart believes in order to listen to a church, a political leader, a boss or some other authority?
One of the gifts of age, I believe, is that we start knowing ourselves better and hearing ourselves better. Twice this summer, I’ve experienced someone yelling things at me that I know are not true–one was in person, one was on television. The noise and the yelling seemed to try to elevate and validate what was being said. But my soul knew it was not Truth. I’m grateful my soul was anchored enough that through the noise, I heard the soul insults for what they were, lies.
I see so much these days about people being offended by one thing or another. I could make a list here but I won’t. Usually I watch this dialogue about who is offended by what as if from afar, trying to keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself. Real personal and spiritual progress happens though, when I am able to acknowledge to myself, Wow, that offends my soul. I don’t need to post it on Facebook or Tweet about it. I just need to honor it…and then dismiss it.
A recent Jesus Calling devotional (August 25) reminds us that God is the Creator of all, yet takes up residence in our souls. And though our minds wander from God’s presence, we can return to that wellspring of presence with just a whisper of God’s name, whichever name for God we choose.
When my children were little, in the temper tantrum phase, I learned that I could quiet them with a whisper. They would be yelling, crying, screaming and flailing in rage and I would whisper instead. It was stunning how fast they would quiet to hear my softer words. I used to whisper things like, I know you are upset and I’m going to take you to your room so you can work through it. Even softer, I would say, When you feel calmer you can come out and be with us. And then really, really softly, I love you. The rage usually resumed but quickly resolved. It was the amazing power of soft. It was the quiet power of a whisper. I even tried it on my two year old grandson a few weeks ago and it even worked in this day and age.
Is someone or something raging at you? Is someone yelling lies trying to make them be truth for you? Is noise blocking out your Knowing? Is something insulting your soul? See it. Notice it. Honor it, then, dismiss it. As Whitman says before that line, Re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book….
Your soul knows truth. Whisper softly to anchor yourself. Listen there.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to two grandsons and one on the way. For more blogs, information on the weekly Jesus Calling Nationwide Prayer Call she co-hosts and upcoming events go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com. Sign up for the Inner Circle to receive a monthly email Top Ten List from Dr. Ryan. September’s list: Things to Savor in September (yes, even this September.) Sign up by August 31 to receive it.