What Is Your Soul Telling You?
I love a good movie soundtrack. They can bring feelings of melancholy and pain; hope and joy. I feel other-ly and myself all at the same time. I feel possibility, inspiration, and imagination at work. We also have soundtracks for our lives that instantly fill us with emotion. A time. A place. A person. Well, your soul has a soundtrack too. It could be a playlist of pain or perhaps chronic stress, like static you can’t tune out. Or the low hum of white noise akin to anxiety. Maybe there is silence where you are aching to hear something, anything. Possible your soundtrack is an ever-shifting eclectic mix of happy and sad tunes. Your soul is speaking.
No matter how loud or languid, your soul is playing a tune. Whether joyful or despondent, it’s telling a tale and offering precious information that is elemental for change. It’s time we stopped turning down the volume, skipping to the next song, or completely zoning out while a pain playlist is set to repeat. Today is the day to start truly paying attention to the soundtrack of your soul.
One cold, dark December night, I was forced to begin paying attention to my soul. Relationships in my family of origin were swiftly shifting. I experienced the loss of a loved one. I was overwhelmed with emotional pain. Looking back, I knew I was confused, scared, uncertain, exhausted, and facing chronic stress, but I couldn’t see beyond the burning emotion in the moment. I now understand that there was a lot going on in my soul — the inner life of my mind, will, and emotions where my spirit (the eternal me) as well as the Spirit of God dwells.
Scripture says that in Christ we become new creatures, meaning our spirit is instantaneously made new (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet it is our soul (our mind, will, and emotions) that needs constant renewing (see Ephesians 4:23-24). The renewing is what transforms our lives (see Romans 12:2).
Renewing requires our participation.
It requires us to pay attention to what our soul is saying, and to identify and clear out the clutter that stands in the way of change. And it starts with simply being still. Noticing what’s been neglected, what hasn’t been working, what you’ve been avoiding.
Own Your Responsibility
As I observed these things in my own life, I realized I own my choices and their outcomes. I own my actions. I own my attitudes. I own my behavior. I own the opportunity to do something about all my pain, all my clutter — this is my responsibility. To overcome, first we must own. We have to tell the truth and take responsibility. We aren’t responsible for what was done to us. However, we are responsible for what we choose to do with our pain. It takes courage to own, because accepting truth takes courage.
God’s responsibility is to set free — which is already done by the completed work of the cross. While God has already completed the work of freedom and it is ours, we often find that there is a process and path to experiencing the fullness of freedom. God is always looking for our participation. We know that our freedom is paid for. That the great wide-open awaits us. Yet if we don’t remove the chains, if we don’t walk out of the tight spaces, we aren’t experiencing the abundant life Christ paid for. It is the child of God who understands their freedom who can slide the broken chains off.
Every God-born person conquers the world’s ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God. — 1 John 5:4-5 MSG
As our chains are removed, we can build a new story for ourselves. You can choose to use your imagination to reframe a situation and dream up new possibilities — to envision God’s promises in Technicolor. You can always tell yourself a new story. Your character can develop. Your plot can twist. The role you’ve been assigned in someone else’s story is not your assignment.
Overcome the Clutter
I start new stories by speaking. Why? Because usually there is a narrative that needs interrupting. As we know, it is important to pay attention to the soundtrack of our soul, but to overcome we need to speak to our souls — to give a new line, a new direction, to reframe. Our mind and emotions love to be the star of the show, but at some point, if we want to overcome, our will must take the lead.
Speaking to your soul is one of the most powerful ways to not only unpack your soul clutter but to get it out of the house. In unpacking my stories and I hold them up to the light of God’s unchanging Word — the truth. By doing this, I’m learning to reframe and reroute storylines so they don’t hold me back from becoming the person I want to be in Christ. It is our choice to break free from this kind of clutter and overcome.
I find that there are two ways to view overcoming. First and most importantly, we must understand that we are already overcomers. The pressure is off. It’s not on you.
If you are a child of God, then you already are an overcomer.
Second, overcoming is something that we do — it’s not an elusive arrival; it’s participation with the Spirit. It’s ongoing-ness. We can practice overcoming. We practice being who we are.
Overcome also means an overwhelm of emotion. These two words, overcome and overwhelm, seem to hold hands. Imagine overcoming your soul clutter (emotional pain, fear, anxiety, depression) by being overwhelmed with peace and joy! This is the new story we are going to tell ourselves. We are overcomers! We are overcoming! We are overwhelmed with peace and joy!
Adapted with permission from Unclutter Your Soul: Overcome What Overwhelms You by Trina McNeilly, copyright Trina McNeilly.
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What is your soul telling you? Take time to be still and listen. Your relationship with Jesus, and your willingness to take responsibility to pursue the freedom He offers will determine your ability to drop the chains and unclutter your soul. Know your Savior, know yourself, and together you can overcome the clutter in your soul and live an abundant, freedom-filled life!