By Kristi Pennington
Three years ago, I found myself running on empty, long before the current pandemic crisis we find ourselves in today. I was a busy minister’s wife. I was involved in things I loved! Bible Study Fellowship came to my town and I got on board. I joined a small church to help meet needs in music and children’s ministries and within the span of a three month period we took two mission trips: one international (Latvia) and one stateside, a church plant in Boulder, Colo. Mike led both mission teams plus doing his regular work as a director of missions.
During this season of life, I also faced a crisis with my father that left me devastated. My soul was not doing well. I kept “doing” all the right things spiritually like prayer and time in God’s Word, but in spite of that, my soul was parched. My body and soul were depleted. My husband and I were not at our best with each other either. We were not connecting well.
Believe it or not, the book Embracing Soul Care — Making Space for What Matters Most, had landed in my lap a few months prior to this. Although much had resonated as I read, my reality was that I was living in a place with too much doing.
There was satisfaction, but little joy and I was not in a good place emotionally and physically. Sometime during all of that blowing and going, I returned to Embracing Soul Care again. My eyes were drawn to the last few pages that mentioned five-day Soul Care Experience retreats at The Potter’s Inn, in Divide, Colo. We applied immediately.
I had no idea of the journey that was ahead, but I did know for this broken woman of God that God’s love and His goodness were all over it. The retreat was in September of 2018 and I will never get over it!! We were loved, challenged, encouraged and we were healed.
I will never forget sitting with a wise minister’s wife at that retreat as she listened to my story. She looked at me and said, “Kristi, you need to push pause.” I remember thinking, “That’s not what I need to hear.” But, it was.
I discovered in this journey of soul care that I needed to have more soul and self-awareness. I need to be awake to my emotions. No, we should not let out-of-control emotions rule the day. But, we do need to listen to what they’re telling us. They are telling us something about our heart and the condition of our soul. The best place, the safest place to pour out the emotional cries of our heart is in a quiet place with God. Elijah, David, and Jesus all knew this and practiced it.
God values integrity. Hiding never works out very well. Hiding and stuffing emotions will keep me stuck emotionally and spiritually. God can handle my anger, grief, fear, sadness, and loneliness, even if they’re showing up ugly and sinful. He knows all this anyway, so speak it out loud to Him.
Naming my emotions continues to be an important part of my soul care. It is key to working on the places where I need God to do more of His transforming work.
To care for my soul for the sake of others I must learn to live life in rhythm. The world says, get your life in balance. Keeping life in balance sounds stressful and unrealistic. There’s no way we can balance those scales and get everything just right. There is a better way, God’s way. It is living life in rhythm. God created rhythms in life: day and night and the seasons. We are in rhythm when we sleep and wake up; when we breathe in and out. God speaks of rhythms of life in Ecclesiastes 3 and Jeremiah 8:7.
Living life in rhythm with God brings order to my day, to my life. Rhythm brings serenity to my soul and makes me more aware of God’s presence. My favorite rhythms include: A period of silence each day. Praying morning and evening with my husband. Leading a monthly Sacred Journey ladies soul care group. Setting aside several hours of quiet “Sabbath time” each week with little to no technology.
These rhythms order and enrich my life. God will help you discover the right rhythms for your soul.
My soul care journey has led me from parched to flourishing. In Him I am loved, I am safe and I am whole. To Him be the glory!
— Pennington is a transformational life coach. She and her husband, Mike, are former Southern Baptist missionaries to Venezuela. She can be reached at email@example.com.