This excerpt is from John's new book Get Your Life Back, available today!

 

We’re going to want our souls strong and ready for the days ahead, filled with God, not fried and empty. So we must practice soul care.

I’m not suggesting you go on a witch hunt for every neglected place in your soul. There’s way too much loss in there to take on all at once. Many people are afraid to feel any of it, fearing that if they start crying, they’ll never stop. It isn’t true, but let’s be kind; let’s approach this realistically. Pick one thing you would call a loss or disappointment that you feel you’ve had to put aside because there wasn’t time or space to deal with it when it happened.

Has a movie or song brought you to tears recently (perhaps there’s a song that always brings a few tears?). Play it again, and pay attention–—why? What is this awakening in you? Put some words to it. The neglected losses are in there; give them a voice.

Then what? Allow your soul to feel. Don’t tell it what to feel; it knows what to do. Just give it permission. It might be anger at first, or it might be sadness, loneliness, why bother? You might find yourself shouting some profanities—that’s okay. Your losses matter. Don’t edit yourself into silence.

Anger is a pretty common first reaction to unattended loss. Let it out. Grab a kitchen spatula and start whacking the pillows on your couch, all the while naming why you are so angry over this loss.

What you’re doing through this practice is becoming present to your own soul, to places that were left behind.

The next step is to invite Jesus in. Invite his love, his comfort, his presence into this specific loss, for his presence brings mercy and healing. I find it important to ask, “What do you have to say about this, God? What are you saying to me about my losses?” His comforting words of interpretation, or promise, are part of the healing.

Sometimes what I need is a walk to my little stream. I just need to sit, and sitting by water really helps. Beauty heals; beauty contains within it the promise of restoration.

In the past, when I became aware of something in my soul needing his touch, mercy, or deep healing, I would bring it to Jesus in prayer and ask him to do so. The results were mixed. Sometimes it seemed to work, sometimes not. During my road trip to Montana, Jesus began to show me something quite helpful—we can’t stand at a distance from our own soul and ask Christ to “go in there and deal with it.” This isn’t hostage negotiation; we don’t hide a block away and hope God takes care of business. This is your own soul we’re talking about; the door opens from the inside. “I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus explained. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in” (Revelation 3:20). We open the door to our soul from the inside. This is the purpose of naming the loss, feeling it, allowing ourselves to return to the place in our own being that we walked away from. We must enter these places ourselves—the memory, the emotion, whatever it is we are aware of. We inhabit our own soul again. Jesus insists on it. Once there, we open the door from the inside, inviting Christ in, which he is always so eager to do.

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