Day 16: Words that feed the soul

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My mother in law is a health nut. The kind that leaves the rest of us scratching our heads when she announces things like, “I really need a refill on my Cat’s Claw supplement.” Or shark’s tooth, or hair of the dog, or unicorn blood. Whatever’s in vogue at the nutrition store this month, inevitably ends up in her pantry. My son spent the night at her home recently and called me to check in. He whispered into the phone something about there being nothing good to eat, unless I considered “good” the Costco-sized Seven Grains of the Ancient World and a refrigerator full of bell peppers. I popped another cookie in my mouth and told him it could be worse. He could live there.

She’s a firm believer in the building up of her immune system by the nutrients she puts in her body. I shudder to think what she would say if she saw the Pop Tarts sitting in my cabinets. Or the candy corn. She never passes judgement, she just silently sips her distilled water and crunches her kale while the rest of inhale three slices each of  meat lover’s pizza. I think she might live forever.

I may not have the self-control of my mother in law when it comes to eating, but I like to take her approach when it comes to feeding my soul and spirit. I keep up a steady diet of soul food, good words that nourish the flesh and strengthen the bones of the inner me. Scripture, poetry, spiritual memoir, life-giving lyrics–I want it all to speak life to my soul.

You might take this to mean I avoid swear words and difficult topics and real-world issues in the material I listen to and read. Not so. This used to be my approach, before I knew better, before I knew that a diet based solely on contemporary worship music and sugary pop and feel-good novels leaves me feeling malnourished. Man can not live on pop tarts alone. These things have their place, but for my soul to feel satiated, for my spirit to be satisfied, I need the words of the Psalmist and the prophets alike. I need praise and lament, fantasy and truth. I need all the words, but especially the ones that describe hard things in real, concrete language. I need the poets and the praisers, the saints and the sinners to lead me into the world as they see it.

Some words offer the world nothing but decay and death, so I draw lines I choose not to cross. But for the words that feed souls, my eyes and ears remain open, ready to receive so I have something nourishing of my own to give. Good words live on forever.

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This is the 16th post in a series called 31 Days of Speaking Life. Want to know more about the 31 Days writing challenge? Hop on over here. Want to receive these posts via email straight into your inbox? Sign up below.

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