Have you ever noticed that when we are sick we will do what we need to in order to get better as soon as possible?
Whether it's a sore throat and you're overdosing on čaj sa medom* or the flu and you're instantly a Google doctor looking up the best natural remedies to get rid of it as soon as possible - we're all pretty keen to get over a sickness quickly so that we can enjoy life again.
It's interesting then, as a point of comparison, the way we take care of our souls. As travellers on this path we seek to heaven one day, our duše* on many occasions, don't get the same treatment as our bodies do when sick. The urgency to 'get better' seems to lack priority.
On a trip to Croatia last year, I found myself stocking up on the gossip magazines to read on the 24-hour journey over just to keep me entertained because (being the inner-flight-geek person I am) I had already looked up what in-flight entertainment shows/movies etc would be on the flight and there were only a few that interested me.
Of course, as I should have expected, two hours into my flight I had already flicked through the magazines and was left with the thought of "Ugh, what was the point of reading that?". It definitely didn't feed my soul the good-stuff.
Whether it's reading those gossip magazines about what's happening with the Hollywood stars or watching a Netflix series that leads you to feeling that 'empty' feeling the following day, the question that should be asked is did that show really lead you one step closer to the greatest-version-of-yourself?
The undeniable fact remains that our souls need the same kind of attention with nourishment that we give our bodies when we're sick - that being whether you're travelling overseas and the choices you make with what to do with your time, or whether it's just in general with your everyday life. It's these choices that will ultimately summarise what your relationship is currently with God and where it is heading.
Have you ever come across someone that has so much peace and joy in them that you're thinking "What is it? What's making you like that?". Generally it's the good nourishment of their soul and it leads you probably wanting what they have. Everyone wants the peace and happiness but no one is prepared to go through the efforts to get there. It's like signing up for a gym membership but not using it and then wondering why you can't get fit (though laying off those krafne* might help).
I came across a quote the other day that said "the difference between who you are and what you want to be is what you do". When you break it up, it looks something like this:
Who you are: First and foremost, we were created by God. We're children of God. That dude that made the sun and the sky - yep, he made you. It's kind of a big deal around here and I hear he's pretty proud of it.
What you want to be: Ever heard someone say "you're called to be a saint" and reacted with "Who? Me?". Yeah that dude that made the sky also said that about all of us. Also kind of a big deal.
What you do: This all depends on what you feed your soul.
So how exactly am I meant to feed my soul?
Many think you have to give up a lot to feed your soul and gain stronger faith like it's some kind of Weight Watchers diet.
Let's be honest here. There will be struggles but everyone knows that even on leg-day your body feels it the next day - yet you still say 'yes' to doing it.
So really it comes down to confidently saying 'yes' to striving to the best-version-of-yourself and persisting to get there by living a life with a richer perspective and purpose. It can start with 20 minutes of conversational prayer each day and simply choosing to only allow your mind to be filled with nourishing relationships in your life as well as actions that compliment this.
When heading overseas earlier this year, I took a different approach this time to what I took with me with the aim of feeding my soul during the long journey to Croatia.
I've mentioned it in earlier articles, but I love having the window seat on a long flight. I love seeing God's creation in many forms. From the mashed-potato-looking clouds in the sky to the person driving an ant-size car you see travelling through a countryside. The thoughts cross my mind wondering where the car is going - to see family? Friends? Go to work?. It's fascinating to me looking at the world literally pass by when essentially time stops for you in the air. Time-zones become mixed up and you don't know what time it is in the little city the plane is currently passing over (at least for a long-haul flight).
Instead of the gossip magazines, I switched to eye-opening books. The kind where you don't want to put them down. Particularly about saints and their stories because I always find them inspiring - they were and are real everyday people with the same amount of 'fails' that most of us have. They did small things with great love but with so much drive that no one could get past them even if they tried.
Overall to get to the best-version-of-yourself and even begin to realise who and what that consists of - it starts here. As mentioned last week, faith is either rejected, denied, embraced, loved or hoped for. Understanding which one of those applies to you personally depends solely on what your soul is being fed. Whatever it is that stirs your soul in a nourishing way, listen to that and act on that. The rest is just noise. Let the noise fall to the wayside and start letting that ripple-effect happen!
Learn some Croatian:
*čaj sa medom - tea with honey. The good stuff.
*duše - souls.
*krafne - delicious Croatian donuts.