I met Jeniece about 3 years ago at the church I was attending at the time. I spotted her a few rows ahead of me and, no lie, thought to myself, “She looks like Taylor Swift and I want to be friends with her.” I somehow managed to weasel my way into a coffee date with her and I remember sitting at her kitchen table sharing our stories, hers of getting pregnant way before she wanted to and mine of having to wait longer than I wanted to. Jeniece has walked through some tough times and has come out so wise and full of joy. I asked her to write on her experience with soul-care, and I’m excited for you to soak in her words today. If you want to read more from her, visit her here: http://jenharris.squarespace.com/
“It’s what’s on the inside that matters most” – Proverb
When I think of soul care, I think of taking care of my insides. However, I am not against admitting that a hot stone massage and a gingerbread latte can mend a sad heart.
Soul care takes a fair amount of deep work. It takes a daily awareness of self, taking care of your heart and soul begins with awareness. Being present with oneself is the best way to get to know the condition of your insides. Being present, hearing yourself and stopping yourself as needed. Digging into the awful thought you had about your neighbor. Throwing a red flag up when you feel your insides are in knots. Digging in and telling the truth.
My husband Drew and I got in a fight the other day about something very small. I was wearing his beloved baseball hat when he asked me not to (multiple times!). It was a clear-cut desire of his that I completely disregarded. I ended up being nasty about it and becoming angry towards him. I did a quick “self-scan” in the middle of our talk and figured out I was empty and needed to be filled up. I was feeling unloved and alone and this was not about the hat at all. I had a long, hard week and I needed some soul care, some filling up. I wasn’t able to have a healthy conversation because I was completely empty.
The ability to communicate what is going on inside takes practice, self-connection and care. Practice soul care by doing “self-scans.” I do a self-scan multiple times a day as I close my eyes and run my hands alongside my body. What do I need right now? How am I really doing? What’s going on inside? What is the next best choice for me? No shame, just the truth about where I’m at, what’s going on deeper.
Self-connection provides rootedness and a deeper understanding and knowing of who you are. Asking yourself hard questions, celebrating yourself, speaking positively to yourself. Understanding you are valued, radiant, and created on purpose. Listening to the deepest desires of your heart and speaking up.
Care. This is my favorite part of soul care. Care is literally protecting yourself. Physically, of course, but also much deeper. Is this good for me to say yes to this? What do I need most today? Taking a negative thought and covering it with 5 positive ones. All ways to protect your insides.
This is your job. Taking care of your soul is something only you can do. Others who love you will only contribute to your journey to self-care, but they cannot define or lead it. Throwing yourself out into the world without a nurtured soul will leave you bruised and lost. Slow, genuine connection to your deepest self does not mean life will be easier, but you will be more present, more awake, eyes-widened to what God is doing in you and in others.
While true soul care takes a lot of time and intention, living at the surface takes even more work. Surface living is unsatisfying, so there is always more to chase; truly exhausting. Soul living, on the other hand, is fulfilling and enough. It’s grace-filled and peaceful and connected.
I wish for you a true connection to who you are and how you feel. I pray you treat yourself with the upmost amount of love and respect. I hope you cry when you need and laugh hysterically with your best girlfriends. I hope you understand that pleasing people and asking them for validation will leave you exhausted. I pray you can know how valued you are. Your mind is beautiful, your heart is meant to be protected and shared. I pray you are surrounded by men and woman who see you for the beautiful insides you possess. I hope that you can trust that you are loved, even when you feel unlovable and messy. I hope you take in the scent of roses and stare out at the ocean. I hope your favorite music is on and candles are flickering peacefully; and when that’s not happening, I pray you still feel rooted in who you are, cherished, adored and loved.