Photo courtesy Monique Tremblay
Seeing Through a Glass Darkly
Three emotional areas of soulish selfishness
1. Nervous exhaustion from positive communication/fellowship
Have you ever felt completely exhausted when visiting with people, and then realized that you should not be physically tired? You've had enough rest--there is no reason you can find for truly being weary at that moment.
I've been there. This is a sort of nerve exhaustion. When I consciously admit to myself that my eyes should not be heavy, I realize that I've been exhausting myself trying to please the people I'm with. When I acknowledge this, I can relax on purpose and just be myself, and I soon find that my eyes are no longer heavy, and I do not feel tired. I can enjoy my time visiting with them.
Is it not the exercise of the soulish, or natural man--the glow, feeling, emotions, and anger, in speaking to others publicly or privately--that causes nerve exhaustion? And is it not possible for the Spirit to quicken the truth without the strain or wear and tear of the body?... It does seem as if more work could be done, and with far less fatigue... ~ unknown writer, as quoted by Jessie Penn Lewis
Nervous exhaustion comes from trying to live for God (or please others) in my flesh, instead of simply loving Jesus and allowing my life to flow out from that love. Amazingly, my love for Him is all because He first loved me (I John 4:19)! So it still has nothing to do with my own efforts! He does it all (Philippians 1:6)! How freeing! I can rest! I can relax in His love, and allow Him to do His work, with me as His vessel.
2. Nervous exhaustion from negative communication/anger
Flying off the handle or harboring anger also exhausts your nerves, and over time, wears out your body! Many physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach ulcers, irritable bowels, etc. can stem from nerve exhaustion from harboring anger, unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness.
The soul is the seat of the personality in its affections, power of joy or grief... he may cling to a soulish joy, and live in the realm of his feelings; in the seat of his self-consciousness, and not in the spirit, the place of the God-consciousness; and thus be among those believers who are always seeking for spiritual "experiences" in the sense-consciousness, instead of the purity of the God-conscious realm alone--the regenerated human spirit. ~ JPL
3. Nervous exhaustion from seeking "an experience"
When I feel the need to "experience" something in the way of emotions, I try to drum up positive feelings on my own. This can work for a short time, but it will also exhaust me. I can do this in trying to stay happy without dealing with issues, trying to talk myself into a positive emotion. I can also do this in seeking a religious, emotional experience. There are times when God takes me on a path of suffering. During these times, He is teaching me how He can give me joy in sorrow; not that I can just determine not to be sad. It is in times of sadness that He seems most near. It is in times of sorrow that I learn that He Himself is all I need. But if I am seeking to maintain a positive, upbeat experience on my own, outside of Christ--using my own determination and grit--I am soulishly selfish. He will bring me around again and again until I learn that He is my sufficiency.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: ~II Corinthians 9:8
It's all about Him. When I learn this, I can leave nervous exhaustion behind me and trust in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 36:7, 57:1, 63:7, 91:4).
Whew! I feel so much better!