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Recently, I have made a renewed commitment to simplify my life and make a determined effort to get my life in balance. All the demands that came along with writing a book, editing, and work deadlines coupled with the normal responsibilities of taking care of my family and homeschooling my little ones left me feeling like my life had become chaotic. The past couple of months, I’ve been purposeful to make needed changes in my life. I was so excited when my friend Salida contacted me about writing a new series for Time 2 $ave. You’ll be seeing more from Salida every other week in her new series called “Life on Purpose.”
In the last segment of our look at the parts of our Selves that need to be nurtured in order for us to live balanced and healthy lives, we arrive at the Spirit. One of my hobbies for years was stamping. I loved to make cards and paper crafts. And one stamp that I always liked had a quote by Emily Dickenson on it: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul—and sings the tune without the words—and never stops at all.” I love the image of a bird ready for flight, full of anticipation about the future, always singing, no matter the weather, and never giving up. Our spirit “feathers” needs hope to survive and to grow. And that spirit is nurtured in our relationship with God and others.
There is an art exercise I often use in my office and I want to ask you to do it now. You don’t have to be an artist and you won’t be receiving a grade! First, Draw a large flower with five petals. In the center of the flower, write your name. In each petal, write something positive about yourself. Ideas include, “thoughtful,” “good mom,” “beautiful eyes,” etc. Now, around that flower, I want you to draw five weeds. Label those weeds with struggles you have in your life. These struggles may include things like depression, troubled relationships, or financial issues. Beneath the flower, connect five roots. Label these roots with relationships that nurture your spirit and give you hope.
Take a look at your “masterpiece” and consider these questions:
- How difficult was it for you to identify five positives about yourself? If it was hard, I encourage you to take some time reflecting on your view of yourself and how you can identify your beauty and strength. You are a beautiful creation made uniquely and wonderfully by God. Take a look at Psalm 139.13-14. Yes, it applies to you!
- How big are the weeds in your life? Consider what happens with weeds in a bed of beautiful flowers. If they are not pulled out by the roots, they overtake the flowers, robbing them of sunlight and nourishment. Are you being overcome by weeds? What are some ways you can manage these issues? Reaching out to God, friends, the Church, a counselor?
- Were you able to label five roots? These roots are what maintain your spirit. Are they healthy? If not, then your spirit isn’t being properly nurtured. Do you take the time you need to nurture your relationship with God through prayer, praise, study, and fellowship? Are the people you identified as your spirit builders healthy and safe? Is your time spent with them encouraging and uplifting?
Our spirit must be “watered” with love for us to grow. If we allow our lives to be overcome by weeds, then the beauty that is within us is choked out and we lose hope as our roots lose nourishment and our spirit begins to wither.
One of my favorite verses of Scripture is Jeremiah 29.11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV). God’s plan for us is one of hope, not harm. He is the ultimate source of hope and healing. I like to imagine that Emily Dickenson’s bird has its feathers perched to take flight towards this greatest anticipation of all.
Salida Brooks, M.A. Licensed Professional Counselor and Mental Health Services Provider Salida is an Independent Counselor at Summit Counseling Center, a ministry of Ridgedale Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Liberty University. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and has experience treating depression and bipolar disorder, self-harming issues, anxiety, abuse, trauma issues, family and relationship struggles, low self-esteem, anger and aggression. Her primary focus in counseling is adolescents and women. Her passion is ministering to the hearts of hurting people through biblically-based counseling.
Salida is a frugal shopper and enjoys the challenge and satisfaction of couponing. She also enjoys sewing and other creative endeavors. Her great love is spending time with family and friends. Date nights with dinner and relaxing at home are a joy with her husband of 12 years, Craig. Cooking and shopping are her favorite activities with their 4 year-old little girl, Leah.