When I was studying for my pastor’s license, I had an instructor who would start each class session by asking the question, how is it with your soul? It took me about three days before I understood she was actually asking us a question that needed to be answered. And it took me another day or two to realize the class was answering her every day with a response in unison, it is well.
The school I was attending was twelve days long. An intense twelve days of classes all morning, afternoon, and evening. There had been a ton of pre-work, there was homework in classes every day, there were worship services to lead, group projects, our own teaching to prepare, and a sermon that had to be ready for critique. It was stressful. So it was not well with my soul. At all.
I went those twelve days without responding. I let my classmates answer her and didn’t join in. I wasn’t angry that she asked. I wasn’t angry that they answered. I just didn’t feel peaceful. I felt hurried. I felt watched. I felt like I was being held in comparison to the other students. I felt a lot of things, but peaceful was not among them.
You know, I still think about that class. I don’t remember much of the material we covered, but the way she opened each session sticks with me. Part of me appreciates my willingness to be authentic. If it wasn’t well with my soul, I wasn’t going to say that it was. But most of me recognizes that I missed the point of the question. I believe she was really asking, what are you focused on today?
For when I am focused on what there is to do, I do not have peace. When I am focused on how I have been wronged, I do not have peace. When I am focused on where I am afraid, I do not have peace. But when I focus on the essential truths that Jesus loves me and Jesus guides me, then I find peace.
I have grown a lot since that class in the summer of 2005. I’ve developed in my understanding of some things. I’m always learning about other things. I too often still fall into the trap of focusing on my situations instead of focusing on my Lord. But I do believe that if I were to have that same question asked of me today, I would be able to pause, exhale, and sincerely respond, it is well.
My life right now has more questions than answers. I’m having a hard time prioritizing. I am struggling to feel confident I am using my time the best way possible. Things feel a little topsy-turvy and, as a recovering perfectionist, I am struggling with it. BUT, I do not need to be defined by my circumstances. Amen. And I do not need to be controlled by the pressures of the world. Amen. I am able to stand firm in my belief that all I need to do is focus on one thing – the presence of my Lord Jesus – and take the next step on the path He clears for me. As I do that, it will be well with my soul. Peace!