I’ve been listening…sorting….purging….on repeat.
It’s spring after all, the best time of year for the maddening clean out of all things old…those bits that have been hidden by the depths of cold winter. It’s Spring! Most years it comes slow around here allowing my heart to thaw out. Breathing in the warming air…sitting on the stoop as the chickens scratch the ground looking for the tender bits of green or the rare early insect. Spring!
It doesn’t take long for the household purging to turn inward…This life is a holistic one. How can I purge only the physical? In this question something called to me in a deeply profound way…I am not just cleaning our home. I am not just taking care of the business of life. I am not just saying and doing hard things. I am in the process of spiritual detox.
Detox: A process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification.
I mentioned this to a friend and he looked at me quizzically….’what does that look like?’ If you have never done a detox I can see how this analogy will likely fall short for you. I have been sitting in this place for a few weeks trying to figure out how to describe what it looks like to others when it feels so deeply natural and personal to me.
There is a deep cleansing that takes place when a person detoxes. They make choices to abstain from many normal foods or activities. Often a supplement is taken to help the body release toxins that it has built up. I won’t get into the whole process…but feel free to do some research! At the end of a detox the goal is for your body to have returned to a more natural, healthy place. A starting point or baseline for your body to do its best natural work…healing itself, growing strong, digesting the foods you take in at a much better rate.
However, it doesn’t end there. The foods we take in and activities we pursue after detox are just as important as the detoxing work itself. In order to maintain good health going forward we must make wise choices about what we put into our bodies….
And there it is. Can you see how this idea relates to our spiritual health? Still a bit foggy? Let me unpack my own experience and maybe that will help a bit.
My soul has sat in a place of spiritual unhealth and buildup for years. I was not able to process much of my own thoughts or feelings clearly. I took the first step of detoxing by stepping away from all types of leadership knowing that I was hurting others. (When a leader chooses ‘the work’ over health ((theirs and others)) there can often be wounding and death that takes place.) I removed myself from my daily norm and began to purge.
The purging took two years in my case and was by far the longest stage of my detox. I went back and forth and ended up confused more then once. I would carve something out of myself and then wonder if I had cut too deeply, if I should pick something up again….sometimes I would and I would quickly discover the pain again…that old feeling of doubt, distrust and dare I say hate. (Like eating that beautiful scone filled with gluten…not a good idea if your body can’t process gluten)
Here is the thing…there is only so much cutting the body can handle…only so much you can take away….in order for there to be a healthy healing it must also be filled with what is good. In a physical detox this is why healthy supplements, lots of water and specific foods are prescribed. In a spiritual detox we don’t always remember or know what the good things are…so we go to trusted sources…Here is where I praise God day after day for the list of good things he has given me to fill my broken spirit with.
- An unshakable trust in the Spirit of God to lead and direct me as I placed my broken life into his hands.
- good and true soul friends from all walks of life.
- books that remind me of truth, sometimes this included the Bible, but it didn’t for a long time.
- songs (when I can handle listening to music) that speak truth to dark places….surprise, many of my truth songs were not from Christian artists.
- listened to speakers and preachers that brought truth and watered the places my soul had gone dry.
- I wrote and journaled again…ever the student of my own thoughts, feelings, emotions and process.
And slowly this soul came back…but still not fully…
In my case I had to physically remove myself from the place we had worshiped for years. This was a decision that took a long time for Mike and I. I wrote about it here a few months ago. It being a deeply personal decision and frankly brutal in many ways I won’t go into it other then to point out that sometimes you just need new surroundings. sometimes you need to allow new people the right to speak into your life, to pour into and mend up what has been damaged. So we left. Walking out from all we had known for 5 years and trusting the Lord to bring us to a place of new beginnings. Just as we need to replenish our bodies with new eating habits sometimes we need a new space to grow into.
As I sit here thinking about how to bring this blog to a conclusion…I am wrestling. I don’t have a neat way to wrap up these thoughts. They are raw and new and hard. Detox is not pretty…but it is good. It is a slow, long work that takes endurance and at 3 years in I feel like I’m only part way there.