Imagine…You’ve lost everything- your job, your home, your car, your pets, the person you held closest to your heart. Who you thought you were, your identity, your very core-it all seems like a nostalgic figment of your imagination.
What makes severe loss even worse, is that, ironically enough, when just about everything is gone, the few things you do have left start to evaporate. The snowball effect I suppose. Friends, coworkers, even some family members- the few stragglers you have hanging in there with you- will begin to disappear as well.
You start over, not because you want to, but because you have no choice. You change, you adapt, you begin afresh, with only the basics. Literally, the only thing you have left is a severely broken and basic you. At this point, if you haven’t met your intrinsic self, it’s time.
“Well, who are you?”- The Who
What comprises “you”? Your job, your house, your friends, your significant other? Your looks? The car you drive? Your college degrees? Your reputation? None of that matters because any of those can disappear or become worthless within the blink of an eye.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? -Mark 8:36-37
The soul, Greek word meaning “psyche,” is consciousness, the persona and the fertile ground where ideas, thoughts and reasoning breed creation. It houses memories and emotions and enables free-will and animation. Neither the body nor the spirit can function on its own, both look to the soul for direction. It is the command center of the individual, the vital component coordinating thoughts and action. In short, the soul is the mind.
A Sound Mind
I know it’s socially unacceptable to begin a sentence with “when I was in jail,” but, when I was in jail, one of our jailers (yes, some do care) listed three character attributes which she considered vital to a peaceful and successful life-
Integrity, Authenticity, and, most importantly, a Sound Mind
The last trait, or the lack thereof, is the reason many women get locked up. They oftentimes think with their hearts, not their heads, being too passionate and too emotional. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless the passions and emotions are directed at all the wrong things.
Among inmates you see many locked up because they are simply too afraid of the outside world, with all of its standards, expectations and responsibilities. They actually want to be in jail with its prescribed schedule and tidy set of rules. They simply do not want to be free because freedom is just too confusing and too complicated.
Among substance abusers and addicts you find those who don’t want control of their own lives due to fear, doubt, insecurity or just plain laziness. They want to be out of control, at the mercy of the system or of a manipulative partner. They don’t trust themselves. They have no self-efficacy.
Soundness of mind is not about IQ or even street smarts, it’s about self-control. Agree with it or not, passion and emotion are not entirely conducive to what society considers to be a firmly grounded individual. Many times people think with their hearts, not with their heads, unwittingly leading to drug abuse, failed relationships, incarceration, accidents, illness and other debilitating forms of loss.
A Balance of Mind & Emotion
A sound self-controlled mind results from thinking more with your head and less with your heart. Utilizing your logical mind to control emotions rather than letting your emotions control you. In other words, a sound mind is about developing an emotional balance.
You cannot function in a bi-polarized state of sadness and anxiety. First and foremost, get rid of emotionally dysfunctional states. Attempting to function in either a frantic state or in a numb and apathetic state will lead to trouble at work, with the legal system and in your relationships in general.
For we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. Job 8:9 NIV
Nothing is permanent. Good or bad, eventually all things change. Truly dire circumstances force you let go of stress, fear and doubt. You learn to have faith and just know that, despite how it appears, things will improve. During difficult times, rely on your faith. During good times, prepare and remember to be thankful.
The soul is truly priceless. We cannot take anything with us when we leave this world except for a well-developed soul. Hardship- it can either aid in your personal growth or you can allow it to take a piece from you. Use hardship to your advantage.
Remember that despite what happens to you, you always have the the ability to choose. You can choose joy over despair. You can choose love over hate. You can choose forgiveness over revenge. You can choose growth over stagnation. No one on this earth can take those options from you. A crisis can evoke the best in you or the worst in you. The choice will always be yours.