My neighbour recently threw out an old white, broken, mouldy bench. It wasn’t pretty to look at, but you could see it had been lovely in it’s time. I passed it four or five times and as I passed the bench I found myself wondering if I could restore it.
Restoration is the process of returning something or someone to it’s intended state or status. It is the process of refreshing and cleaning up; of applying a little tender loving care, and gently renewing again.
And so I asked my neighbour for the bench. He was happy to have been let off taking it to the dump, where most old benches end up, and I was happy to carry it home.
I wonder, do you ever feel like life has just left you in the dump?
Do you ever feel you are no longer valued or respected or able to do what you were previously able?
I think most of us feel that way at some point – at many points! If you haven’t been thee, keep reading, because one day you may feel that way.
So I took the bench home. I cleaned it with warm soapy water (the equivalent of TLC for a bench) and I removed the mould, dirt and dust. I replaced the broken piece of wood. The bench looked much better.
Restoration looks like this: tackling the pain, the hurts, the habits that destroy us. It is an internal washing of the heart and soul that prepares us for what is yet to come. Restoration itself can be a painful process because it means letting go of what is in the past in order to move forward in the present.
How do you restore your soul?
For some of us it is in the faith we hold. The Old Testament scriptures have a poem with the lyric “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3). Millions of people across many centuries have found that God can indeed restore (heal) and refresh the soul. The soul is that part of us that cannot be seen. It is the invisible, internal aspect of being human. When we experience heartache, loss or hurt it can scar wound our soul. When we experience joy, kindness and love our souls are refreshed and can be healed. This is one reason finding joy, sharing kindness, and experiencing unconditional love are so vitally important.
The Psalmist is saying that restoration of the soul ultimately comes from God. Now that doesn’t mean that restoration can only come to a person who has faith in God. The bible God is presented as pouring grace, love, forgiveness and mercy upon ALL humanity – in grace he provides friends, family, therapists, colleagues, sunsets, creativity, activity, etc. All of which can help to restore our souls.
So, how will you see your soul restored? Will it be through activities or sports that reinvigorate the body? Will it be through intellectual pursuits that can restore the mind? Perhaps it is in being creative? (that works for me!) Or in drawing closer to God? Perhaps it can be found in being surrounded by the natural beauty of the world? For some of us restoration occurs through interaction, while for others it comes through introversion and solitude.
If you are feeling like my broken old bench, in need of some tender loving care, take time to consider how you might restore your soul. If we neglect to care for the soul everything else can eventually unravel. Look after your ‘inner person’ in order to keep functioning effectively in your work, relationships and pursuits.
For me it is back to the bench. It needs another coat of paint, and then it will have a lovely space in my yard among the flowers and plants we are growing. It will allow us to sit, rest, reflect, and restore as we watch sunsets, eat, and talk together – just as it was created to do.
May you find restoration for your soul so you can live as you are created to do.
Living life on purpose is about choosing to live life according to what makes you feel most fulfilled.
Many of us just go through life being knocked here and there in life, career and interests, without thinking about what we really want. Purpose is such an abstract concept: it is hard to pin down, which is why I love the idea of finding a sense of purpose. Purpose can change as we journey through life, although some variables will not change much. We get an idea of what makes us feel most alive; what connects us with others; what contributions we can make. These things help us define our ever-shifting sense of purpose, and to live in the joy of that purpose.
So here’s my few tips. You will need to click the links to read, but I think you will find it’s worth the read…
Identify what your ‘sense’ of purpose is. In Japan there’s a word used for that sense of purpose: Ikigai. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Click the link for a very practical and helpful on identifying your purpose
I’ve recently been taking time to just “be still”. Our world has become a noisy, chaotic place where it can be difficult to find peace and quiet.
Stillness refocuses our attention and our hearts towards what really matters to us. When we take time to be still our minds wander into the thoughts we need to process. You could say that stillness is the gate into the garden of contentment because when we settle into quiet contemplation we find ourselves heading towards contentment.
The monastic movements such as the Benedictines understood this and made contemplation and silent meditation part of their daily rhythm for living. In silence we reconnect with the spiritual in life – the Old Testament poet wrote “be still and know that I am God”.
Whether you just need peace, silence, contentment, or a deeper understanding of God, stillness is still a great non-activity to recenter your mind, soul and spirit.
I recently visited one of the most beautiful little villages in the UK. St Abbs is a tiny Scottish fishing village nestled close to the Scotland-England border and it is simply gorgeous.
I was snapping photos left, right and centre (and I guess driving my very patient children a little crazy as the danced on the borders of boredom!). I found this photo amongst my days’ snaps…
I don’t know about you, but when I first looked at it I wasn’t sure which way was up and which was down. Life sometimes can feel just like that, can’t it? One minute you’re heading where you want, and the next life throws you a curveball and you feel totally out of sorts.
How do we get back on track? Here’s a few tips:
1. Stop and think about what’s happening: how are you feeling about it? Mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually?
2. Get the perspective of trusted friends and family
3. Take time to adjust – don’t rush
4. Realign your perspective – not all change turns out negative. In fact when we embrace change it usually ends up positively. Resistance to change can unnecessary create inner conflict (although some changes should be resisted – as we grow in wisdom learn to recognise when resistance is required).
When we realign our perspective we learn to see more clearly. I found a photo I’d intentionally taken…
Reorienting your perspective is the difference between looking at my first photo and my second – we see things more clearly.
Today I feel very alive. You know… that feeling somewhere between deep contentment and cheesy bliss.
I wonder what makes you feel alive. That feeling comes to us all on occasion, and it arrives in a variety of ways.
For some, it is found in the embrace of a loved one. For others it is found in beautiful places of introverted joy. Perhaps it’s found in the alignment of numerous factors that each bring a little joy, and come together in the culmination of extreme joy?
For me it was found on a beach in the freezing cold sea with the shrieks of joy and laughter touching my eardrums as starkly as the waves crashing against my skin. I’m up to my neck in the sea just feeling everything so perfectly and my world in that moment is an inner ocean of calm soaking my soul with bliss. The feeling of intense coldness just made me feel alive and happy. Seeing and hearing my family laughing giggling together added to that, with the warm shining sun covering us like icing on a cake!
So, what makes you happy? What washes away every fear or anxiety, even if only for that moment?
Find that moment, that connection, or that experience – it will feed your soul with many memories and residual joy many times in the years to come.
Say YES. Today what will you say YES to? There’s so much going on in life that sometimes we unintentionally say yes to the wrong things. We say yes to the things that hold us back, and the things that keep us bound up in pain, grief, and despair.
Say YES to living happy.
Say YES to healthy choices.
Say YES to prioritising your life partner.
Say YES to new adventures.
Say YES to finding joy.
Say YES to kindness.
Say YES to helping others.
Say YES to growing in wisdom.
Say YES to exercise.
Say YES to getting out into the fresh air.
Say YES to learning.
Say YES to working hard.
Say YES to making tough choices.
Say YES to determination and perseverance.
Say YES to hope.
Say YES to life.
Why say yes?
Because you have to power to choose what you say yes to. In saying yes to the things that build up your life you are saying NO to the things that destroy your happiness in life. In saying YES to things that encourage (that word means ‘fills you with courage’) you, you are actually throwing wide the doors that will bring joy to your life!
Saying YES is a simple, effective way to attract joy, love, kindness and friendship to your life.
May you know the joy of saying yes on your life journey, and nay you have the wisdom to know when the YES needs to be used.
I recently shared a post from The Samaritans on Facebook. It talked about the rise in suicides during the time of COVID-19 and I was really struck by the rise in suicides. My heart aches with sadness as I consider how difficult life can be for many of us.
I’ve never considered suicide, but I have lived on the edges of my coping levels and I know what it’s like to just get through each day: as a child and teenager I lived with the daily pain and trauma of abuse. As an adult I’ve experienced depth of loss and the emotional pain that can result from loss. Life can be hard to cope with sometimes. It was actually during such a time that I began exploring finding joy despite hardships. And it has been a lifesaver for me.
On their website The Samaritans list the following signs of struggling to cope:
Lacking energy or feeling tired
Feeling exhausted all the time
Experiencing ‘brain fog’, find it hard to think clearly
Finding it hard to concentrate
Feeling restless and agitated
Feeling tearful, wanting to cry all the time
Not wanting to talk to or be with people
Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
Finding it hard to cope with everyday things and tasks
If you are experiencing a number of these you might consider seeking out support: through friends, family, of therapeutic intervention (as a bloke I found counselling a hard step to take, but the value of it has been priceless).
You could also try ‘finding joy’ everyday – where are the small moments that might lift your spirit and feed your soul?
Wherever you are – I trust you will make the right decisions to build your resilience, heal wounds, and enjoy the journey 👣