All people, regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic status, face one thing that threatens their well-being: stress. Stress can adversely affect our lives if we let it control or get the better of us.

A CNN Philippines survey conducted in October 2017 showed that among 200 respondents, 23 percent said their highest stressor was their job or studies. The rest were mainly stressed over finances, heavy traffic, or personal relationships. All these are factors that we deal with every single day.

The usual responses to stress are anxiety, fear, and despair. In spite of this, we don’t normally see them coming. The average person doesn’t get up in the morning thinking of having an anxiety attack or sinking into hopelessness. On the contrary, our personal resolutions tend toward self-betterment.

And yet, many of us end up doing the opposite of bettering ourselves, and then wondering where it all went wrong. So begins our journey into the unseen urges that exist beneath the surface of our public persona. They are hidden from our social media profiles and are edited out of the posts and updates we share. They may even be undiscerned by our conscious selves. The key to these unseen urges lies in our true, inner self, called the “soul.”

What is the “soul”?

The answer to this question warrants an entire chapter in itself, but for the sake of this piece, we shall define it as “our inner selves, that immaterial part of man consisting of his ability to think (mind), to choose (will), and to feel (emotion).”

The soul is the cause and template for our quality of life, because what is inside of us will show in our outward actions. This is alluded to throughout the Bible. “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). And again, “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:17,18).

Whenever we act rashly, speak out of turn, or instinctively respond in certain ways, there is an inner source. This source is our soul. What we allow to grow and be nurtured inside of us—our “inner garden”—will bear fruit in our public and physical lives.

Here’s a primer on soul care—tending that inner garden so that we can be assured of a good crop.

1. Know the Truth.

Truth is a person, and His name is Jesus. This is the beginning of our personal search for the truth about ourselves, about our purpose in life, and about how we can interact properly with the world around us.

Jesus is our personal mentor and the Healer of our broken souls. Ask Him to enter into your soul and allow Him to fix its broken parts.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:5,6

Lord, my soul needs to find its way, to know You in truth, and to get a real shot at life as You have promised. I need You in my innermost being. Allow me to see You and know You as the true lover of my soul.

2. Make room for the Truth.

Our everyday lives are so cluttered with stuff, and our schedules are so busy that we can’t even hear our own thoughts. We neglect not only our physical needs, like sleep, adequate hydration, and proper unhurried nutrition, but more so, the care for our souls.

Ask yourself: Does my soul have time to breathe? Is there a portion of my day that I can call my own, where I can close out all outside chatter (the internet and endless phone notifications included)? Make that daily appointment with your soul, and invite your Maker in. Actually, it is the Holy Spirit who waits for you to stop and have some face-to-face time with Him.

Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight.
‭‭Psalm ‭94:19‬ (TPT)

O Lord, I open my life, my time, and my day to You. My soul yearns for Your presence, and I ask for daily time with You. I make room for You, and set aside my busyness and all the pressing thoughts to quiet myself before You.

3. Take a good look at the Truth.

Many times we live self-deluded lives, believing things about ourselves that we’ve been told as children but aren’t necessarily true. Some of these are half-truths, negative judgements, and defeating prognoses on our person. As time went on, we eventually agreed to them, and now live them out as our reality. These lies and half-truths eat at our souls and can eventually erode our well-being.

So how can we discern the truth? There is a mirror that tells no lies, and our souls can perceive its images better than our physical eyes. That mirror is the Word of God. We read the truth in His Word, and He echoes it in our hearts with His “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:13, NKJV).

Ask yourself if you are willing to take a good hard look at Truth. Are we desperate enough to throw out all our defensiveness and self-analysis, and just be open to hear what He has to say?

Our God never condemns nor demeans us. He is not harsh and does not expose us to shame. He simply desires for truth to enter into our inner parts so He can make us whole persons, without deceit or hiding.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)

And so, Lord, I brace myself and look. Open my eyes to the wisdom of Your Word, which is the true mirror to my soul. Expose those broken parts of my inner self, those sharp edges that cut me down and hinder Your plan for my life. Please begin the inner work in me, and change me from the inside out.

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