Girl outdoors, enjoying light and beauty, feeding an empty soul

How do you deal with your empty soul? Do you retreat into a hole, waiting for someone to pull you out? Do you deteriorate into a TV junkie/couch potato/social media addict? Maybe you lash out at anyone who dares to enter your space, including the dog. Or you keep trying to force things as if trying to run through waist-deep water.

Life drains you. Busyness, relationship issues, parenting, financial stress, illness, difficult people–they poke holes in your internal bucket and you leak. And if your internal reserves are already low, a larger-than-normal leak can quickly drain any remaining resilience you have. Your creativity evaporates, even minor stresses overwhelm you, and you can’t see anything positive in the world.

I’ve learned the warning signs that indicate I’m running on empty. I let small things upset me, sometimes to the point of tears. I’m always embarrassed when I get to that point, but I’ve learned to see it as a warning sign that I need to get intentional about filling up.

So what can you do to fill your empty soul in healthy ways?

Learning to Feed Yourself

When your stomach is empty you find something to eat. Sometimes it’s a quick snack–the healthier the better. Sometimes you sit down to savor a gourmet meal that may have taken hours or even days to prepare. Your body does best when you regularly eat a variety of good quality food.

But what you don’t do when you’re hungry is sit down and wait for someone else to feed you.

God knows you need to eat regularly, and He makes a wide variety of food available. He makes grain grow in the field, but He doesn’t harvest it, grind it, bake your bread, and hand you a sandwich. He makes fish grow in the sea, but He doesn’t catch it, skin it, bake it, and put it on your plate for dinner.

You don’t create the food out of nothing: God is the Creator. But you and I are responsible to know when we’re hungry, find appropriate food, prepare it, and actually eat it. Some food tastes better, and some food is more nourishing. But it’s up to you to find, choose, and eat it–actually take it into your being.

You learn to feed yourself.

It works the same way with an empty soul. God makes an infinite variety of soul nourishment available. But you are responsible for knowing when you’re hungry, finding appropriate nourishment, and actually taking it into your being. It may take effort. You may not be able to immediately get your favorite soul nourishment. But here’s the key:

You must learn how to feed your own soul.   (Tweet that)

You don’t create soul food out of nowhere, and not all soul food is equally nourishing. But you are the one who must proactively choose to look for and take in what your soul needs.

Where to Find Soul Food

Your soul needs different kinds of nourishment. Learn to be aware of what nourishes you; it’s as unique as the kinds of physical food you like and don’t like. Here are a few categories to think about.

Stillness vs. Stimulation. Most of us are overstimulated. We face constant input from television, smart phones, and social media. That kind of data overload drains your internal bucket. Going non-digital for an hour, an afternoon, a weekend, may revolutionize your sense of being refreshed.

Natural vs. Artificial. Our lives are often filled with everything man-made; buildings, cities, media, noise, pollution. Much of it is good, some not so good. But when your soul needs to be filled up, there’s something about nature that meets a need nothing else can. The sound of rain, a bird song, sand under your feet, the feel of a tree’s bark–it reminds you of the Creator who made all that, and who made you too.

Inspiring vs. Entertaining. Most media capitalizes on the sensational, the superficial, or the scandalous. Entertainment may keep you “vegged out,” but it won’t nourish your soul. On the other hand, there are certain books, movies, music, podcasts, or even TV programs that lift, fill, and enlarge your soul. You can tell the difference by the effect your inner heart experiences.

Earthly vs. Eternal. Things we can see, feel, and touch are important. God created the Garden of Eden as a very physical place. But you and I were also created for more than this earth. We were created for forever. Time spent reading Scripture, in prayer, being with Jesus alone or with other believers, or just being in silence in the presence of the Lord – these nourish the part of your soul that only God can fill.

Two Questions

You don’t think it strange when your body needs food, or that some foods lead to better health than others. So ask yourself these similar questions about how you nourish your soul.

How do you know your soul is empty? What are the unique emotional signals you feel? How do you behave differently when your soul is depleted? What tells you you’re running on empty?

And then, what soul food is most nourishing to you? When do you feel most alive, most refreshed, most creative? What people, activities, or places fill you up?

Think about spending time with positive uplifting people, time taking in beauty from art, music, and nature, time feeding your mind with uplifting books, podcasts, and good media, and time with God.

Continuing to run on empty will never turn out well. Notice the signals that indicate you have an empty soul, and learn to feed yourself with the nourishment you need. Notice what fills you up, and find ways to do more of that.

Your Turn: What signals tell you that your soul is running on empty? Can you name a few things that provide you with soul nourishment?  Leave a comment below.

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  • How do you feel and act when your soul is empty? Like with physical food, you’re responsible for learning to feed yourself. You don’t have to give into an empty soul.      Tweet that.

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