I'm surprised at how little we talk about the soul. I'm surprised because most of our souls are exceptionally depleted and in need of care. Richard Foster summarizes our plight well when he says:
“Today the interior life of vast numbers is empty, parched, dry.
And the reason? In our daily, desperate scramble of panting feverishness
we have never so much as considered the health of our soul."
I think part of the reason few people discuss the health of their soul is because 'the soul' resides in unchartered space where psychology, physiology and spirituality meet. Since these areas of life are often not discussed as interconnected entities, care of the soul rarely makes its way into everyday conversation.
However, before we can discuss caring for your soul, it would probably be helpful to describe what the soul actually is. I encourage you to see your soul as the unifying entity which forms the essence of who you are as a human. Your soul joins together various aspects of your life and allows these aspects to influence one another, giving form and shape and embodiment to the essence of you. Since even this definition is abstract, let's make this a bit more concrete.
What are the aspects of life that influence the essence of who you are? Well, there are many, but I have found over the last 20 years that six aspects of life rise to the surface and greatly impact the essence of each human being. These six aspects of life are depicted below on the 'soul wellbeing' image and are: the spiritual, cognitive, relational, meaning, physical and emotional aspects of life. (Note: image created in partnership with the marketing and design team at Bethel University, St. Paul, MN where I teach)
When you consider your soul, explore how these six aspects of your life impact the essence of who you are. Then, when you consider the health of your soul, you can realistically begin caring for you soul by investing in these six aspects of life.
Dr. Christine Osgood, LMFT D.Min has been working in higher education for 20 years teaching psychology, spiritual formation and wellbeing courses. She is passionate about soul development that resides at the intersection of developmental psychology, behavioral neuroscience, missional theology and Christian spiritual formation. In addition to being a licensed marriage and family therapist , professor and spiritual director, she is also the founder of The Urban Retreat. She resides in the suburbs of Minneapolis with her husband, two kids and a dog named Macy.