(photo credit: brother-in-law, Dave)
The text message came from my sister-in-law. The message simply read: “How’s your soul?”
Between kids and busy lives, we don’t get to talk that often, but I do love these random, thought-provoking messages that come straight from her heart to my phone.
I hadn’t really had a “soul check-in” of sorts. I was glad for the reminder until I realized my soul had been in a bit of a state of neglect, and I should probably try to do something about it. Sometimes I have a tendency to push things I don’t want to deal with to the back burner because acknowledging things usually means the hard stuff is coming: I should take the next step and do something about it, act on it, make a change. Sometimes I can take action, other times I’m stubborn or too burnt to try.
I sat with the question for a moment. I wasn’t going to say that my soul feels great, mainly because I’m not a liar. What could I say? Let’s see – my soul is…drowsy? A bit neglected? Fuzzy, dusty, anxious? My soul is waiting patiently for me (I hope)? My soul is hiding in the bathroom from my kids?
Nothing was truly wrong, but I hadn’t felt great. I hadn’t felt happy or fulfilled. I typed out my response:
“Stuck. Imbalanced. But hopeful.”
Not exactly going to find its way onto an inspirational greeting card, sure, but I was strangely content with my soul assessment. I know that like everything else, it will pass. I think the important piece to know is that it’s OK to feel this way. It’s actually good to feel this way, to sit with the sensation of being off balance, to crouch down inside the notion of being just OK. To curl yourself up under a blanket of meh.
We shouldn’t be ecstatic and happy all the time, bursting with joy. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like a fun way to live, but probably too expensive for me. It never really feels good being in the valleys, but you need the downs in order to enjoy the highs. There is discipline in being comfortable with just being.
If we believe that we need to or should be constantly happy all of the time, then we are setting expectations that we will never hit. And I really don’t think that that’s a great way to set an example for your kids, either, don’t you think? Always expecting joy and laughter and happiness every minute in life? If that’s the case, they will have a hard time as they go through life and the bumps start coming. They might think every time they hit a roadblock that something must be wrong, that they should throw in the towel because it’s getting too hard and shouldn’t be, that everything should be sunny and downhill. How fair is that?
The other morning we walked outside, about to head off to camp. Penelope runs out into the driveway lately in the mornings because she likes to feel the air, and she describes it to me in great detail. This morning she said, “Mama! After the rain comes, and you take a smell outside, it smells good. Take a smell outside!” She chattered away the whole time I buckled her into her car seat, and she made me promise before closing her door that when I walked around to my side of the car I’d stop and “take a smell” before getting in.
How is this little one so wise? She watched me intently, making sure I inhaled deeply the smell of the rain. Knowing she was watching I took a deep inhale, straight down to my soul. When I got in the car she had the biggest smile on her face. “Didn’t it smell so good?!”
You know what? It really did smell so good.
We need the rain. We need to feel it, to welcome it, and to know how good it will be afterward.
“Stuck. Imbalanced. But hopeful.”