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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
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The “body” is a basket word that includes all the “parts” of the body like your hair, skin, lungs, heart, blood, and toenails. Healthy body parts work together to permit you to function at optimal levels. Though each body part is interrelated, each one is independent and needs a particular kind of care. The “independence of the parts” is why you want to be specific when trying to help a hurting person. Suppose a person has a tummy ache, but you don’t know they are hurting. You walk up to your friend and ask how their ankles are doing. They may think, “My ankles are fine; it’s my stomach that is killing me.”
Asking the right question is essential. The way a typical doctor asks this question is with the general, “How are you doing today?” He asks you a broad, non-specific question that releases you to answer it in the specific way you need to respond to him. In that way, your soul is similar to your body. It’s a “basket word” that houses all the “soul parts” like heart, spirit, mind, thoughts, imagination, intentions, will, dreams, emotions, conscience, attitudes, faith, confidence, hope, fears, and more.
Because I am not God, I do not know the “thoughts and intentions” of my wife’s heart (Hebrews 4:12-13), which is why the question that I ask her more than any other is, “How is your soul today?” It is rare for a day to go by when I’m not asking her that question. Rather than thinking I know what is going on inside of her or, even worse, telling her what is going on inside of her, I ask her what is going on inside of her. Similar to the medical doctor, I intentionally leave the question open-ended and non-specific. I want her to fill in the blank of my generalized probe.
Perhaps she fears today. I need to know that so I can serve her well. With the “soul question,” she knows how to answer it. (Of course, we have talked in detail about the purpose of this question.) If she is fearing, she may say, “I’m struggling with taking my thoughts captive today,” which she has said in the past. That is my call to action to help her connect the dots with possible other “soul parts” that may tie to her fears like thoughts, dreams, imagination, attitude, and even her conscience. When one part of the body is struggling, it will always affect other factors too. It’s the same for the soul.
By serving your spouse this way, you are not only helping yourself—because you are one—but you are helping your spouse to avert potential physical issues that can come to the surface as they bubble up from the soul. There is an interrelatedness of the soul and the body. Perhaps you want to ask the question the way your doctor does: “How are you today?” That’s fine as long as you both know the intent of the question. And your spouse has the freedom to answer according to what’s happening in their soul.
Think about how you can be a better “soul care physician” with your spouse and then enact your plan.