Pulse of Our Soul
My recent surgical experience stripped me of misconceptions I had about hospitals. I believed them to be places of healing and care, which they are, but I discovered they are not places of sleep. The lingering effects of anesthetic dragged me towards slumber, but hospital noises and routines tugged in the opposite direction. A curtain is not a good sound barrier against the groans and cries of other patients. But my room mates were not the hurdle to dozing - nurses were! Every hour my nurse roused me to take my vitals. She disturbed my descent into dreams to record my temperature, blood pressure and pulse. She would smile, say, “Good night” and return 58 minutes later to repeat this ritual - all night long. She noted my vitals in a regular, repeated manner. She didn’t assume that the measurement of the last hour was enough. She didn’t assume that my vitals would stay the same. It became obvious to me that the regular calibration of my essential functions was key to good physical health and healing. It was worth losing sleep over.
What is true of the body can instruct the soul. Health is essential to both. If we measure our physical well being by noting the vitals, should we be just as diligent about our souls? Wisdom whispers, “Yes!” - but we do it infrequently. Extended time can pass without asking, “How is it with my soul?” We assume a weekly Sunday “check up” is assurance for the whole week. We trust our souls to be stable against the demands or assaults of our environment. We are likely to take internal inventory only when something is wrong; when our soul is sick or in crisis. Fitbits for the body enable us to monitor physical health. A nightly review of soul can be a Fitbit for spiritual health.
If we were to take the vitals of our soul, what would we measure? We can account for our time in prayer or engagement with Scripture. We can note the places of obedience or repentance. We can be guided by the ways and means that we felt the nearness or absence of God. We would be wise to also examine the places of peace. Paul commands that our hearts should be ruled by the peace of Christ, both within us and between us (Col. 3:15). Peace is not as concrete a criteria as the number of minutes in prayer, but there is no surer indication of soul health than peace with God and men.
Engaging in a regular and repeated pattern of observing souls’ vitals is essential to soul health. But I note this. The nurses didn’t let me take my own vitals through the night. I don’t have the experience or wisdom to understand them well. It had to be done for me. It’s also true for my soul. God alone has the wisdom to see the depths of soul. Whatever evaluations you make about your own heart are surrendered to the examen of God. Ask God to search you. Listen to the grace and truth of His Voice and then sleep in peace.