May the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit (pneuma) and soul (psyche) and body (soma-life) be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
It is an
exercise in metacognition to be able to think about our feelings: to step back from them and use vocabulary to
name and describe them, which is more than just experience and act on them. When a person can engage in such self-awareness,
it causes them to be able to use their emotions rightly and not just be
reactive. This is a basic practice in
with that same kind of self-aware cognition, I can begin to think about my soul. I wonder what is my soul, different from the
whole of whoever I may be. I wonder how
I can recognize my soul, differentiated from my heart or spirit. In teaching others about their spiritual
selves, I realize we must grasp the greaterness of the depths of being. To fail to do so is to live reactively if we
cannot locate a language and understanding of the soul.
realized my physical center--my heart-- gives me the metaphorical lesson for my
soul. My heart sustains my body. Even my brain cannot operate without my
heart. And though my heart can function
with minimal brain activity, it is also dependent upon my brain. For my heart to be at its best, I must take
care of my body by keeping it fit and active, or my heart fails. The interdependence of my body, brain and
heart is clear.
sustains my life. My spirit cannot
operate without my soul. And though my
soul, which is my identity, can function with minimal spirit(ual) activity, it
is dependent and enlivened by my spirit.
For my soul to be its healthiest/fullest/truest self, I must take care
of the entirety of my life by keeping it engaged in righteous pursuits and
relationships or my soul loses its fulfilment, its greatest capacity. The interdependence of my spirit, soul and
life is clear, especially in the pursuit of blamelessness, complete
blamelessness, as Paul writes here. The
language here means to be preserved completely for a whole and righteous
life. To be blameless means to have no
cause for disapproval and to be free from fault or defect.
metaphor continues. For my heart to be
well, my doctors and medical community say I need to exercise and to be
selective about what I eat (less sugar and fat, and more plants) and less
gluttonous about what I eat. Exercise
needs to be regular (as in daily) and with enough exertion to raise my heart
activity to what they call cardio.
soul to be well (and souls do become sick and damaged, unable to sustain a
healthy life), I need to engage in spiritual activities and be selective and
less gluttonous with intake of worldly activities. What is the “sugar” of this world that sets
up my lifestyle to damage my soul? Maybe
idolatrous practices of which I can’t get enough and which completely distract
me from God, such as addictions to TV, social media, shopping, food, or other substance
abuse. And the gluttony: those behaviors which are legitimate needs of
the soul, such as relationships or service to God, in which I indulge to the
exclusion of God and to the condition of my soul.
activities/exercise for my soul need to be regular (daily) and with enough
passion and engagement to raise my soul activity to a level that engages the
power of God and brings the energy necessary to strengthen and sustain my soul.
heart which can get injured through accident or attack, the soul can be harmed,
too. And like the heart, which can be
healed with the intervention practices of a doctor, so can the soul be healed
by the practices of spiritual healers and guides who use prayer, companionship
and coaching into wellness. The Greek
word for soul is psyche. Those spiritual
guides and healers could be called psychologists, but they could also be called
prayer warriors and partners, sponsors and mentors, and friends.
would call us brethren, which means “of the womb,” those who are born into new
life by His work on the cross and the Holy Spirit’s engagement in this new
life. To know and nurture your soul, you must be born again, Jesus would say,
into a community of reborn souls and sustained by a soul-healthy lifestyle and
a soul-fitness community. I would call
it the Kingdom of God.
the metaphor shamelessly, when the heart is strengthened for exertion and
endurance, it can stand the rigors of a demanding life; it can bear the physical
burdens of caring for household and community well into old-age; it can lead
the rest of the body into wellness if injured or attacked.
strengthened, will respond and enable a strong lifestyle on a parallel level to
my heart responding to the care and exercise it receives. The soul then can be equipped to bear the
demands and burdens of the struggle with sin.
It can then carry the heavy load of loss and grief of self and
others. The soul can forge new paths and
develop a life that serves the greater good and bears the glory of God into a
hurting world. Only a strong soul can
carry that weight. Then the entirety of what is life will be preserved (taken
care of, guarded; specifically from external attack). It will be a fortress.