on being a soul skeptic
I posted earlier this week on Instagram and FB about space — how I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately (and always). My need for space, how to find it, what needs to be arranged or rearranged in my life in order to experience it. I’m talking about exterior space, but I’m also mostly talking about interior space. There are a lot of helpful tools out there for decluttering our exterior space, but do we understand what it means to declutter our interior space?
Do we know how to listen long enough and intently enough to our soul voice that knows, intuitively, how deeply we need the space to create, make, try, fail, begin again, laugh it off, breathe.
My mind can turn malignant at times. The Brain Vultures are absolutely on the prowl. When this happens, I have a very hard time discerning what is God’s voice, what is my soul voice, and what is the screeching, death-preaching of the Brain Vultures and their mind malignancy.
“When the brain vultures are circling, when they have their way, we aren’t thinking straight or clearly. We are anxious and petrified and backed into a corner in the worst way. Life might be difficult, but it’s the toxic voices that are debilitating.”
When this happens, I get afraid. Mainly because it becomes very hard to discern what I want, what I need, what I’m longing for. The energy behind the longing is there, in full force, creating restlessness, and — until I can figure out who is talking to me — I can’t resolve the restlessness. I just swirl. I’m longing for something, but I haven’t given myself permission to long for it because I fear the longing might be coming from an untrustworthy source. In other words, I’ve turned into a soul skeptic. Not good.
Does this make any sense to you at all? Do you know anything about this?
One of the ways we find breathing room is by taking apart all the various voices vying for time in our minds and then sit long enough to determine that space where our soul (our deepest desires, longings, our wild) and God meet up. And then sit a little longer . . . and listen. Then, the most brazen thing we can do is move forward . . . despite the lies that floating around in our minds, despite the malignant messages, despite the anxiety, despite the blahs, despite the fear, despite the very real concern about what everyone else will think.
“Can I offer myself what God has already offered me: another chance. And another? And another? Can I let go of my fear long enough to let some air in the room? Can I loosen the noose of self-contempt and receive the grace of starting over? Can I see that moving forward, however imperfectly, is so much braver than staying stuck?”
I personally think this is really hard.
Last night I sat on our back patio very late at night, after everyone else was in bed and I scribbled on a legal pad. I decided to create the space to listen — with deep compassion — to myself instead of jumping right to judging. I had a tangle in my mind and my soul, and I didn’t know where else to start. I saw that a major component of my paralytic swirling was my skepticism of my own soul. So I set my phone timer for 20 minutes and I listened to my soul, without judgment.
Then, one by one, I started confronting all those voices that are telling me: “you’re incapable of being happy,” “you have no idea who you are or what you want,” “you’re a mess.” Because no matter how many times I tell them to go away, they come back. No matter how many times I welcome them and sit them down and tell them they’re not in charge, they start screaming louder than all the other voices. So I had to begin again last night . . . with the reality that my soul has legitimate longings that I need to listen to . . . and the Brain Vultures want to scare me off and want to scare off all the really good, God-designed magic that lives in my being.
“It’s subversive, isn’t it? An act of total rebellion. To continue when all the forces of the universe are pushing back against you.”
This is the only way we find our way back to the space, I believe. Listen to ourselves with compassion. Confront the lies with conviction. I’m wanting to listen more . . . even though the stakes sometimes feel very high to listen and lean in. I never, and I mean ever, want to bully the wild inside me.
“In my soul, there is a gypsy, a wild and free version of myself who needs far less control, far less absolutes. I’m going to honor her by wandering a bit more than I’m comfortable with. Even if that means I have to breathe into a paper bag now and then.”
I know it’s only slightly ironic that I’m quoting my own words back to myself in this post. All of the turquoise quotes are from Breathing Room. I’m doing that on purpose. So you can see how “knowing” truth is never the same thing as “practicing” truth. How we have to return, begin again, so often that sometimes it’s practically laughable.
As a tender warrior sister told me, “Soul stirrings. Don’t let them scare you. That’s not their purpose. They are to encourage us. Grow us. Remind us of what is written on our hearts. Our callings. Our deep longings. And all of it is good.”
Amen. Go forth and listen.
Love, longings, and legal pads,
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