“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
What do Hemingway, Pythagoras, and Paul Have in Common?
Ernest Hemingway gets the credit for one of my new favorite quotes, ““The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” I’ve been chewing on it for months now.
Strong in the broken places.
And then this morning, I found this similar thought by Pythagoras:
Choose rather to be strong of soul, than strong of body.
Leading me to the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 4:8 (MSG):
You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers.
Why a Strong Soul?
Hemingway, Pythagoras and Paul all realized that a strong soul makes for a better life. Yes, it’s critically important to have a strong body, but when you think about it, a strong soul is even more important.
Why? Because unfortunately, our physical bodies are designed, due to the fall of man (Genesis 3) to age and eventually give out, but our souls (our mind, will, emotions, intellect, conscience) can remain strong, Lord willing—and must be strengthened on a daily basis.
Man is made up of physical material, the body, that can be seen and touched. But he is also made up of immaterial aspects, which are intangible—this includes the soul, spirit, intellect, will, emotions, conscience, and so forth. These immaterial characteristics exist beyond the physical lifespan of the human body and are therefore eternal. These immaterial aspects—the spirit, soul, heart, conscience, mind and emotions—make up the whole personality. The Bible makes it clear that the soul and spirit are the primary immaterial aspects of humanity, while the body is the physical container that holds them on this earth.
Love that my dear Momma has fully embraced coloring books for adults.
She is having a blast and boy, it is so good for the brain!
Me? I have always strengthened my soul by listening to great teachers. My new favorite?
On Being with Krista Tippett: The Big Questions of Meaning
The Personal Challenge
I suppose I’m writing from a very personal, tender, and highly vulnerable place today, as my physical body is really challenging me. Last year’s diagnosis and experimental surgery for Achalasia and this year’s decision to finally “fix” my congenital back condition, Spondoylolythesis, has really pushed me to the edge, shall we say? Enough already.
But, it seems it isn’t “enough already.” Yesterday, I found out that a repair surgery is needed and will be done this upcoming Monday. It seems the little nerve root (which is causing really big pain) that had securely attached itself (over the last 17 years) to the fractured S-1 bone, hasn’t healed properly and so is leaking very precious spinal fluid (or something to that effect). It has to be “plugged” or “glued” or something like that.
When the surgeon mentioned the word “surgery,” I instantly, yet quietly, panicked inside. You know that feeling? I best describe it as “a sinking pit in the middle of my soul.” Instant deflation.
Of course, the very first thought that arrived on the scene of my mental stage was—why? Isn’t that usually who shows up first? There were others—doubt, fear, and a tinge of anger masked as frustration—but, then, I swallowed some of my own teaching: breathe, collect strength, remember the power of resilient rest, and do the next thing. I’m not kidding here. As instant as the deflation came, the inflation followed.
That is the blessing (the upside) and yet the “downside”of being a teacher of God’s Word. I have to live it (James 3:1) and without a doubt, I will be tested by my own teaching.
But, I’m here to say, because of studying, listening, and strengthening my soul life, my capacity for moving through this trial is less frightening. The words hidden deep in the reservoir of my soul—that sacred space for collecting strength—now nourishes my heart and mind and thankfully, helps me do the next thing. Reminds me, literally, that God is trustworthy and that HE LOVES and SEES every little leaking nerve root in my life.
I don’t know if you have any metaphorical leaking nerve roots in your life, but I pray that when and if you do, you know that GOD LOVES and SEES you. You may have to dig really deep into your reservoir of collected strength, but that is why we collect strength for our souls. Life will throw a lot of hard stuff at us and we must be ready.
My Prayer Today
Dear Father in Heaven,
Please be with me. With us. With my dear friends.
You know us by name (John 10:3).
You see us (Genesis [16:13]).
You love us (Jeremiah 31:3).
You will see us through (Isaiah 42:1-16).
You will never forsake us (1 Kings [8:57]).
And for this, we worship and thank you.