When my soul comes to rest, as it must, it must take time to reflect on itself. Self-examination, cross-checking purposes, strengths, weaknesses, areas of temptation, and, of course, its own weariness. For some people this is something that must start in isolation, alone in a study or private place. My heart and mind are too prone to wander. I’m different; my soul reflection, at least some of it, must be done in intercourse and dialog with someone else. He/she must be a person of safety, of integrity, and of gentle truth. Not someone who will reply to my revelations— You’re a jerk. Rather, Well, that IS an unusual perspective. You get the drift.
Identifying such a person, who has trudged through the mud of life, who has a number of arrows in his back, and one who has that humble wisdom which only comes from forgiving and being forgiven, is hard to find. Thus— I search for a comrade-in-arms who will bounce my soul off myself with gentle reflection and forthrightness.
One such person comes to mind is David H. We have been friends, Christian brothers, fellow journeymen, and comrades-in-arms for the past 50+ years. We first met 1964, when he had just returned from a cross cultural mission. I was the measly cook at a Retreat House along the banks of the Hudson River. It was about 3:00 in the morning when we ran into one another wandering the House, each of us pondering quite different issues. David, wondering what had happened in American culture in the time he had been in Columbia: I was struggling with the way God seemed to be directing me in life. We stayed up late, each disclosing our struggles, one to another, for reflection and feedback. This formed what became a life-long bonding between us.
Throughout our subsequent journey we kept a low profile together, imparting concerns about culture, family, and personal struggles, for the rest of our lives, to this day. I don’t see Dave as much as I used to. I miss him. Time to get together again, I believe.
Another more recent friend is Laurie B. He is Canadian; and I LOVE Canada! Eh! After three years of being encouraged to meet, Laurie and I finally got together when I was an instructor at the eXcel Leadership Training Course for The Salvation Army. We hit it off immediately. Common interests, similar approaches to life, even wives who were a lot alike. As with Dave, Laurie and I had similar issues with our children and our admitted cluelessness on how to proceed in some areas. He and I shared deeply about our personal struggles, our sense of “getting up there,” age-wise.
I must also bring into my entourage of Soul Reflectors one Julie E.M. Julie entered our lives when she was just ten or eleven years old. Things had not been good with her older sister; Julie sought a solace and perspective from Starr, my wife, and me. She spent a great deal of time in our home from the time she was eleven through Middle School, High School, and even during her college years. When her doctoral work took her to Madrid and Seville, we had to communicate across the Atlantic. Our relationship wasn’t always that smooth either; she vanished off the face of the earth for a good five years. But when she resurfaced she was full of life and yearning to get back in touch. Our friendship has now lasted 40+ years. So far.
Soul Reflection requires mirrors like these people. These are three of my most important reflectors. But I would be quite amiss if I would omit from this list my wife Starr. Far and away, she is the closest, most perceptive, unapologetically honest reflector I possess. She knows me completely! At first, being known that thoroughly, that intimately was scary; now it is a place of safety. In our marriage, at least, we reveal ourselves to one another completely: no hidden areas, no concealed lives, no secrets. Except professionally; we maintain a shield of confidentially about those we counsel. Everything else is out in the open. EVERYTHING. We have weekly (and daily) check-ins, of course, but more often than not, we simply sense what is going on in the other person, set aside our life’s agenda, and ask, Is there something you want to talk about? Is something troubling you? The two of us have become one, in love, and in spirit. Thank God for Soul-Bonding! [She is still the most dangerous woman I know.]
Taking time for soul reflection is never wasted. It serves as a periodic check-in with who you are. If you do it with trusted confidants, like I do, make sure they ARE trusted confidants. And NEVER keep anything from your wife, husband, or that person in your life with whom you are completely safe.
Honor God, honor people, make a difference,
Dr. Gary Davis, President
NEXT— After There’s Nothing Left— Grappling with Regrets- part 7