What’s your favorite meal? Think of it right now. Is it something you eat at home, carefully prepared by your spouse? Do you enjoy a culinary masterpiece you spend all day preparing yourself? Is there a special dish at your favorite restaurant? Who do you eat it with? What’s the setting? Is there music? How do you feel afterwards? Keep that in your memory as you read this.
We need to eat every day. Sometimes it’s a banana while rushing off to work, or a slice of cold pizza at your desk. But sometimes it’s an experience for all the senses, perhaps with a few good friends, or with the one you love. Sometimes feeding your body becomes part of feeding your soul.
Can you tell the difference? You could satisfy your body’s need for calories and nutrients by swallowing the same ready-made nutritional drink three times a day. But that wouldn’t satisfy any of your other hungers, would it? Your soul gets hungry too!
Sometimes a mental fast-food snack will keep your soul’s hunger at bay for a time. But you regularly need to bring some real nourishment to the deeper parts of you. You need to feed your inner being. Neglect doing so for too long, and you will become irritable, short-sighted, frustrated, angry, and ineffective.
Here are several possible ways to feed your inner being with some gourmet nourishment:
1. Spend time with nature.
Take an hour, an afternoon, a weekend to disconnect from your digital life and experience the natural. Watch a flock of birds flying, or geese on a lake. Grow some flowers. Sit and listen to a stream gurgling, or the rush of ocean waves. Hike to the top of a mountain, or ride a horse across the prairie. Go outside at night and gaze at the stars; drive out of town if you need to.
Nature reminds you that God is bigger than you, that there is beauty in the world, and that your problems aren’t so important after all. It’s healing, calming, restoring.
2. Listen to music.
Put music on in your home instead of the TV. Go to a concert. Play the piano, or another instrument. Consider having music on while you work, if appropriate. Consciously enter the emotion of the music during your church service. Choose worship music, gospel music, or classical music; each lifts your soul in a different way.
Research shows that music can affect your breathing and heart rate, and some believe it even helps your body heal. It’s one of the most powerful ways to set the “temperature” of your inner being. The right music will lift you up and put you in a great mental/spiritual place.
3. Connect with someone.
Find someone you can talk with and just be you. Perhaps it’s a sister, a golfing or fishing buddy, a classmate, a coworker, an old friend, a neighbor, or a church member. Get together and share what’s good and bad in your life, what you struggle with, what you’re afraid of, what you hope for, what God is doing for you. Even better, listen to them share the same with you.
No man is an island. God created us to be connected. Different personalities, and men and women, connect differently. But don’t isolate. Connection makes you stronger.
4. Do something good for someone else.
Stretch yourself a little. Do something not because you have to, but simply to give of yourself. Visit your parents, listen to their stories, cook a meal for them, and fix something in their home. Volunteer at the Salvation Army, Red Cross, or a homeless shelter. Find a rehab center and visit the veterans or children there. Be a big brother or big sister, or help teach literacy at your local library.
Reaching beyond yourself is almost guaranteed to help you feel better. There are people with problems much bigger than yours. You will almost certainly come away feeling more blessed than they do.
5. Read the Bible and pray.
This is not for study here; it’s for spiritual food. Sit down in a quiet place, ask God to be with you, and open your Bible. If you don’t know where to read, start with the Gospels, or the Psalms. Read a little while, and when you sense something speaking to your soul, stop. Talk to God about it, and then just be quiet and wait. It may feel uncomfortable to be silent at first, but do it anyway.
God’s food is the best of all, but He won’t speak through the confusion of multiple competing voices. Being still allows Him and His Word to nourish your soul like nothing else can, and truly transform your inner being.
Whatever you do, don’t let your soul go hungry. You may have another favorite way to find nourishment. Just be sure to feed your inner being often.
Your turn: How can you tell when your soul needs nourishment? What do you do to get filled up again? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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