If you’re considering fulfilling your lifelong dream of visiting Kansas, this isn’t the month to do it. So far we’ve had over thirty days of triple digit temps, making residents wonder if we’re up for another summer like year where we had more than sixty days over 100 degrees and broke every weather record in Kansas books. It’s hot, folks. Even the dogs won’t go outside.
Droughts don’t just happen in Kansas, though. They also happen in souls (as I wrote about here). Having suffered through a couple years of record-breaking spiritual drought of my own, I thought I’d share some of the things that have watered, and keep on watering, my soul:
1. Find your Tonto
Don’t be a Lone Ranger. Tell a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor what you are going through and ask them for support, encouragement, and prayer. Ask them to check in on you. Ask for reading recommendations. Ask for counsel. Tell them you don’t want a ‘fix,’ just an ear.
Read healing and hopeful books. Here are a few to get you started:
All is Grace—Brennan Manning (must-reading for ragamuffins)
Captivating—John and Stasi Eldredge (for women)
Wild at Heart—John Eldredge (for men)
Spiritual Formation—Henri Nouwen
Wrecked--Jeff Goins (when life feels dry and purposeless, maybe the solution is getting ‘wrecked’ by the needs of the world)
Start Something That Matters–Blake Mycoskie (along the lines of Wrecked, stories of people who want to give back)
p.s. If possible, read outside your comfort zone. I found a book called The Song of the Seed: A Monastic Way of Tending the Soul, which isn’t normally my thing, but am finding it rich.
3. Immerse your senses in beauty
Music heals. Try listening to Handel’s Halleluiah Chorus or Rutter’s The Lord Bless You and Keep You without feeling God’s love pour deep into the dry cracks in your heart. It can’t be done. Other suggestions: Chris Tomelin’s Amazing Grace, Townend and Getty’s In Christ Alone (I especially love Owl City’s version of this), Leona Lewis’ Footprints in the Sand, and the Bach cello suites.
Feast well and feast often. I don’t know what it is about setting a nice table, putting in the effort to make homemade dinner rolls and lasagna, and pouring a bottle of shiraz that draws me to God. Gather your babies, light the candles, and settle in for an evening of communion.
Speaking of candles…light some. By the kitchen window gives a mundane task beauty. At night on your writing desk. While you pray. Whenever.
Get outside with the specific purpose of seeing God’s love for you. I love butterflies because they remind me that I am a new creature in Christ. Every time I see one, it becomes a little love note, sent from the one who loves me best. The ocean reminds me of God’s power, pure white snow of forgiveness. God’s stamp of love is everywhere, if we’re looking for it.
Even the rocks cry out…
4. Go radio silent
Silence is not a cue to go do something. In our noisy, triple-tasking world, we need silence more than ever. Have you ever just sat in silence for fifteen minutes and done nothing? Silence gives us margin around our lives, but if we fill it in with chaos, we lose a gift—the time to think, to digest life, to listen. I highly recommend the books Margin by Richard Swenson and In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore if you are interested in more on this topic. ‘Be still and know that I am God’ was put in the Bible for a reason. How can we know Him if we never shut up?
5. Start a gratitude journal
As I come to the end of a couple of super tough years of spiritual drought, I’m realizing that ungratefulness is in large part the culprit for my struggles. Instead of accepting what is offered, I grumble because it doesn’t fit my ideal. Apply this to any situation and you have a recipe for serious drought. The cure? Do the opposite and become a gratitude fanatic. Read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and feel your soul hydrate.
6. Dialogue with God
How much praying versus talking bout praying do you do? The spiritually dry might be so because some of us tend to talk about God instead of talking with God. You do not become a better biker by reading Bicycling magazine. You become a better biker by biking. In other words, callous up those knees.
7. Fall in love with the Psalms
There’s nothing on the self-help shelf that beats the Psalms for speaking to a broken, hurting, or withering heart. Read, sing, and memorize them. My current favorite is #30.
8. Look around
When I talked to Maryalice down in Biloxi (you remember her, the one who lost everything she owned in Hurricane Katrina?), I asked her how she dealt with such devastating loss. Her answer knocked me flat: “I got busy helping other people.” There was too much need around her to feel sorry for herself. And, as she reached out to others in her own situation, she found new friends, deepened existing friendships, and discovered that being therapist to others can solace one’s own pain. It reminds me of one of Dale Carnegie’s stories:
It’s the eve of the Pearl Harbor strike and a certain woman in the psyche ward was bed-bound by her ailments. The next morning, when the bombs started to drop, the nurses went off to help the injured and she was left by the phone which was ringing off the hook by people looking for their loved ones. She began to answer the phone and before she knew it, she was out of bed and running the show. Getting her eyes off herself ‘cured’ what doctors couldn’t.
What needs are around you? Who needs a phone call, an email, a card? Have extra tomatoes in your garden? Which neighbor might like them? When we are soul dry, the temptation is to turn inward and nurse our wounds, but becoming agents of encouragement to others just might have the fringe benefit of offering a bit of the sweet stuff to ourselves as well.
These are a few of the things that are bringing me back to life. Have you ever survived a spiritual drought? If so, I’d love to hear how…
This is a follow-up post to Soul Drought…praying for water for all my friends who are needing it today, and every day.