We added 456 miles to our minivan earlier this week. We traversed the Cascades and settled in Central Oregon, with dear college friends, for two nights.
Even before we left, I had a gut feeling that this would be a monumental trip, in an understated sort of way.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the life God has given me and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But, getting away for a couple days was just what my soul needed. Leaving home, work, neighborhood, and responsibilities proved to be more than just a break.
Our getaway to the center of our state helped center my soul.
The more self aware I become, the more I realize how travel – whether across town or across the world – can bring health to my soul.
When I don’t spend time away, I start becoming dangerously myopic. All I can see is me and the people and possessions that I think orbit around me. I become the center. I become the hope for my soul. I deceitfully begin to think and feel as if I am the one holding my world together.
I go. I get away. I step out of my life. And everything changes.
This recent trip was no exception.
Reconnecting with old friends reminds me of that intangible bond we have with each other in the Body of Christ. Seeing differing topography and the myriad beauty of God’s handiwork reminds me of His vastness and my comparative smallness. Brief intersections with unknown (to me) humans – the fellow hiker or grocery store checker or gas station attendant – remind me there are billions of stories being written in this moment and billions more that have gone before and are yet to unfold. My story, but a single star in the night sky. So small, yet significant and loved by the Creator.
Each of these small reminders, the friends, the hills, even the strangers, are like stepping stones back to Reality. They usher me into a perspective more in line with Truth. Getting away brings my soul back to my true home, back to an earthly life lived in light of eternity.
I inwardly cringed at the question. She asked me: What are you passionate about in life? As a logic driven individual, I try NOT to be ruled by ‘passion’, because ‘passion’ can be dangerous – unpredictable, illogical, potentially damaging. Following ‘passion’ feels like losing control. I know it’s not always the case, but there you have it, a glimpse of my fear of emotions.
I understand my fears, desires and motivations more now than ever. But, as I pursue greater self-awareness, a few questions haunt me:
Is self-discovery simply self-centered?
Is self-awareness the cosmetic cover-up for self-absorption?
Shouldn’t I be more focused on others rather than myself?
I recall how the Lord has dealt so gently and lovingly with my soul. He has brought me through valleys and put praise in my heart in the midst of darkest nights. He has tenderly formed my heart, shaped my soul. A significant part of His process has included my growing self-awareness; bringing what was hidden in the darkness into the exposing Light of truth.
Yet I am still haunted by these questions. I feel a sense of guilt as I pursue personal growth. Is there really any benefit to understanding myself better?
I’ve taken all sorts of personality profiling assessments that claim to tell me who I am: a melancholy-phlegmatic, INTJ, Thinker-Doer, Blue-Green-Red, Rosebush-PineTree, 5 wing 4, etc…
You’ve probably got a long list of personality labels too.
Personality profiles attempt to give us a language for what can never be fully expressed. The writer of Proverbs describes our inner-workings this way:
A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water,
But a man of understanding draws it out.
Proverbs 20:5 (NASB)
Deep water is dark, difficult to plumb, potentially dangerous. Our motivations and plans are often hidden so deeply that grueling work is necessary for anyone, even ourselves, to draw them out. Ultimately, such a task requires supernatural wisdom and understanding. To plumb the depths of the human heart and soul, we must turn to the Maker of all, “for He knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalm 44:21b)
The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way,
But the foolishness of fools is deceit.
No, self-awareness isn’t selfish. Quite the contrary. Self-awareness helps us walk in truth! Unless we seek God’s wisdom to understand ourselves, we live in deception. Yikes! That is not the path I want to take. Give me truth. Give me self-awareness, no matter how revealing and painful it may be. Do you feel the same?
Is self-discovery simply self-centered? No. It is a necessary component of growth in all areas of life.
Is self-awareness the cosmetic cover-up for self-absorption? No. Rather it can lead to the beautifying work of God within us.
Shouldn’t I be more focused on others rather than myself? No … and Yes. Our ability to love and serve others well correlates directly to our own level of health. (More on this to come!)
Self – Awareness is a crucial initial step toward partnering with our Creator in caring for the one, eternal soul with which God has gifted us. I’m chasing it; I hope you are too.
Back to my cringing inducing question. What am I passionate about? More and more the Lord is stirring in me a longing to care for souls and partner in God’s work of healing and growth. Growth in my soul, the souls of my family, my spiritual family, and you! I pray that the words I offer here provide even a smidgen of care for your soul.
I suppose soul care is the emphasis my blogging venture has always orbited, even though it’s just now that I am beginning to put words to it all. I write my heart and soul for you as a way of caring for my own soul, in order that in some way I might help care for yours, too. I write to bring my dark things into the Light, and maybe, just maybe, help shine a light on your dark things too. If my handful of words can somehow help usher you into the Light of Christ, praise God! It’s how I’m Aiming at Heaven.
If the pursuit of soul care resonates with you, wonderful! I’ve got a lot more to share on the topic. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss what’s to come!