Soothing the Soul

Do you ever get agitated?  Do you ever feel the need for something to soothe you on the inside?

Maybe you grab a hot drink, or eat chocolate, or turn on the radio, or call a friend.  There are many ways we look to “soothe the soul”, and that’s what I want to investigate with you here.

Comfort Zone

When we are stretched or taken out of our normal pattern we can feel like we are out of our “comfort zone”.  The first day at a new school or workplace can be outside our comfort zone.  But in time we become very familiar and comfortable with those surroundings.

An emergency or crisis can completely throw us out of our comfort zone.  Getting back to normal is then a wonderful relief.  It soothes the soul.

You may have felt soothed on arriving home after a really hectic day or a long time away.  You may feel that soothing sense when you reconnect with your extended family, or go back to the place of your childhood.

Choose Your Addiction

Most of the time we have to rely on something close at hand to bring us the inner soothing we might seek.  That’s why people turn to their addictions for a dose of comfort.

They might light up a cigarette, drink a coffee, sneak some chocolate, go to the movies, rush off for some retail therapy, have a facial, do an extra session at the gym, call a friend or get buried in work.  The list is endless.

Sadly many turn to prescription drugs to relieve their feelings and end up addicted to a chemical prop that reduces their ability to cope with life and find the better solutions they need.

What do you gravitate to when you feel uncomfortable on the inside?

The True Anchor

Take note that the Bible refers to an “anchor of the soul”.  Our sense of being safe and soothed on the inside has been provided for by God.  We may not need all that chocolate (apologies to all those chockaholics!)

If we have a sufficient “anchor” for our soul we won’t need to rush off for something to soothe us.  Our “comfort zone” will be much wider and we will not find ourselves feeling the same duress we might otherwise have felt.

The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament talks about a “hope” that is the “anchor of our soul”.

“We have a hope that is an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which relates to things within the veil” Hebrews 6:19

Hope as Our Soul Soother

The anchor of our soul is not retail therapy or any of those other things we rely on to soothe our soul.  The anchor is much more effective than the temporary relief we might get from a hot drink or a chat with a friend.  The anchor holds our soul firm even in the face of terrible storms.

And that anchor is “hope”.  It is the hope we have in God.

Reference to the anchor of our soul in Hebrews is in the context of the “hope set before us”.

“We who have fled for refuge have strong consolation through two indestructible things in which it was impossible for God to lie, enabling us to lay hold on the hope set before us” Hebrews 6:18

Our soul is soothed by our confidence in God that He has everything under control and has told us the truth about His promises and blessings.  This is a powerful source of comfort.  It is a “strong consolation”.

God cannot lie, so we can find consolation and hope in the things He has promised us.

Hope in God

This hope we have in God was also relied upon to soothe the soul by King David, 1,000 years before the book of Hebrews was written.

When King David found himself struggling on the inside he spoke to his inner self, his soul, and instructed it to “hope in God”!

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God: for I will yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” Psalm 42:5

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God: for I will yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 43:5

This is the same concept as the “anchor of the soul”, of putting our hope in God and finding “strong consolation” by doing so.

Get an Anchor

If you are often looking for something to soothe you on the inside then you need more than a soother.  You need an anchor.

And if you are going through a tough time, maybe through sickness, financial challenges, relationship issues, failure, shame, or whatever, be sure to get an “anchor” rather than some temporary soother.

There are seasons that really stretch us.  If we don’t have an anchor we will turn to our various soothers and they may end up enslaving us in addiction.  I am afraid the drug companies are not ashamed to exploit your weak moments to get you relying on their medications for the rest of your life.

If you have an “anchor” you don’t need the temporary relievers.  Those things don’t have the impact of an anchor.

Practical Application

I am in a long term challenge.  We are taking on issues of bank fraud, injustice in the courts and treason in the political and social structures.  It’s not a challenge that goes away on the weekends.  And the struggle to this point has seen us evicted from our home twice.

So I know what it is like to be hankering for something to soothe my ruffled feelings.  A quiet cup of coffee, a belly full of food, sitting in some warm and comfortable place with no interruptions – these are things I find soothing.

But I have also found that turning to God and hoping in Him has brought much greater inner strength and comfort than the comforts my body or mind can gain.

So I speak from experience when I encourage you to “Hope in God”! Find Him and His promises as the anchor of your soul.

Making Marriage Better

Since marriage is a dynamic interpersonal relationship some people struggle with the growth and change process that it brings. Here are some key issues to keep in mind as you make your marriage better.

Change and Comfort Zones

In order for your marriage to get better things are going to have to change. Did you see that word? I said “Change!” And change involves you being moved out of your comfort zone.

It’s all well and good to say you want things to be “better”, but better also means “different“. When things become different, even if the different is “better”, there will be a process of “change”. That will mean your comfort zone will be disrupted.

So, are you really ready for the change process?

The Demanding Wife

I have helped a number of couples whose relationship has been strained by the demands of the wife. A demanding wife often sees the weaknesses and failings in her husband and wants him to change. What happens at times, however, is that the changes upset the wife who is demanding them!

What some wives fail to understand is that if their husband was to become more responsible, more involved in things, more proactive, and all that, then he will displace the position which she currently occupies. That means her own responsibilities, behaviours, thought processes and personal meaning will all be challenged.

I have had to deal with situations where the wife has been upset about her husband changing, even when he became the person she wanted him to be.

The Unsettled Husband

Similarly I have seen husbands become unsettled when their wife changes her attitudes and behaviours. Even though those changes may be for the better, they can upset the husband’s comfort zone. Some men resent their wife changing in ways that put added responsibility onto them.

The change process impacts both husbands and wives and so I need to share with you two key principles which will guide you through that process of making your marriage better.

You Will Be Uncomfortable

Face this fact – You will be Uncomfortable! Change brings challenge. Change your job, your home or your lifestyle and see if you don’t find yourself challenged in the process.

So, uncomfortable is not bad. It is a sign that you are undergoing change. Don’t fight it or resent it. Recognise it and deal with it. Face up to it. This is a necessary part of the readjustment process.

In order for a man to rise to the levels of responsibility and authority which his wife wants him to attain the existing relationship will be left behind and new ways of relating will replace it. But even the new will be temporary, as the couple moves toward an even better balance.

Both husband and wife will face moments of discomfort, uncertainty and unfamiliarity as your marriage moves through change. But change is your necessary pathway to “better”, so don’t fight it or resent it.

Two Keys

As you navigate through the uncertainties and discomfort of the change process there are two keys which will support you on the way through. Remember that change can take time and you may be in various stages of uncertainty for many months or even over several years.

Key number one is to Fear God. Key number two is to Trust God.

The Fear of God

When you feel uncomfortable the worst thing you can do is to be out of order. If you react with anger, resentment, bitterness or the like you will damage your marriage. But when people feel challenged by change they can instinctively fall into such things.

I have seen husbands and wives argue, fight and damage each other, as they throw accusations, make justifications, and struggle with the uncertainties of the change process.

That’s why I so strongly advocate that you fear God. If you fear God you will bring your own actions into check, even if your spouse is out of order. You will think and do the right things, rather than giving in to your baser instincts. Instead of jealousy, anger, frustration, accusation or the like, you can respond by being the husband or wife the Bible instructs you to be.

And you will not justify your wrong behaviour on the basis of your spouse doing or saying the wrong thing. You will know that you do not have an excuse for any wrong behaviour, words or attitudes on your part, even though your spouse is out of order.

Faith in God

Faith in God, or trusting God is also needed. This is where you realise that God has everything under control, even though you don’t. It is the confidence that God is going to bring you through to a glorious outcome, even though things don’t look too good at the moment.

Faith keeps you moving forward, instead of pulling back and giving up on the marriage. Faith keeps you hopeful and prompts you to make new investments in your relationship, confident in a good harvest in the future.

Make Your Marriage Better

Armed with Fear of God and Faith in God you have nothing to worry about in moving out of your comfort zone and into the better place that your marriage is meant to move to. Don’t be afraid of change, and don’t be afraid of the future.

Put your trust in God. Ask Him to work on you and your spouse, so you can build a new and better level of relationship. Learn what a godly marriage looks like and determine to achieve that in your own life.

With God on your side, and with you determined to fear God and to trust Him, you are now ready to Make your Marriage Better than it has ever been.

For a good description of what a godly marriage is meant to be, I recommend “Marriage Horizons“. Check it out at the Family Horizons website: http://familyhorizons.net/html/marriage_books.html