For the last few months I have been reading “Having a Mary Spirit” by Joanna Weaver. A fantastic book, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to really get to the root of what is happening inside their soul.
The last chapter I read talked about the root of bitterness and how it shrivels our soul. She quotes Paul Borthwick where he identifies the two types of people, “enlarged souls” who live a life with faith-filled optimism and “shriveled souls” who let themselves become embittered and withered by life’s hardships. I thought I would write down the nine suggestions for avoiding the “shriveled soul syndrome.” I could see myself in quite a few of these…and I would encourage you to start the process of opening up to what is holding you back in your walk with Jesus.
1. Avoid Gossip… Gossip shrinks our souls because we are living at the expense of others. We build our identity by tearing others down.
2. Release Bitterness. Bitter people shrivel spiritually as they walk through life under the weight of “apologies owed me.”…
3. Take Risks… Expanded souls step out in faith. Shriveled souls run when no one is pursuing. Expanded souls believe God and take risks. Shriveled souls…live in fear of what might happen.
4. Trust. Living a life of worry guarantees a shrinking soul. When we try to be God by grabbing control, we shrivel because we cannot bear the weight. Enlarged souls live comfortable with the unknown because they choose to trust God.
5. Don’t Live for “Stuff.” Keep materialism in check in your life. Those who live for the accumulation of things – either by purchasing or by constantly longing for what they cannot afford – degenerate into shriveled souls.
6. Master Your Appetites. People controlled by cravings will shrink their spiritual capacity because food, lust, or other unchecked desires will take over…
7. Grow Deep. Enlarged souls think about the meaning of life. They look for purpose…based on a philosophical and theological foundation. Shriveled souls get preoccupied with drivel…and then they find their conversations filled with superficiality.
8. Be Generous. Stinginess might enlarge our bank accounts, but it shrinks the soul. Celebrate the past, embrace the present, and anticipate the future…
9. Think Globally. Enlarged souls follow The Lord of the universe. Shriveled souls want a village God who attends to their whims… Enlarged souls see their role in serving the world. Shriveled souls make their world the whole world.
This chapter goes on further to talk about forgiveness. We live so much of our lives holding onto hurt and un-forgiveness. It’s hard to forgive someone, especially if they don’t ask for it, or they live their lives as if they have done nothing to hurt us.
Personally I have held grudges and bitterness against others only to realize that I had misinterpreted the whole situation in the first place. I had listened to a comment with the filter of my past and my experiences, and had taken offense…but in reality the other person had no clue how I heard what they had said, and it was never intended to be offensive.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is the lesson of “choosing not to be offended.” When we hear something, we have a choice. We can choose to be offended, or we can choose to hear it with a different filter. We can choose to see the other side of the story. What perspective does the other person have? Where are they coming from? Just because I hear it a certain way, doesn’t mean that that is what they are saying. We are all different. We all see things differently.
Let’s choose to be un-offended. Let’s choose to surrender our hurts and pain to Jesus. He can heal. He can open up our souls and fill them with love and forgiveness.
Romans 12:9-21New Living Translation (NLT)
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,”says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.