It is well with my soul

I know that I have been under a bit of stress lately with the recent crisis in my wife’s health, the stream of family who have come to support, the increase in work load due to her absence, and a few tasks that are just part of a generally busy lifestyle. I keep thinking that I am handling my stress well, but there are a few signs that things may be a bit different from I think. Perhaps I am not as aware of how I am handling the stress are those who work with me and others who have the opportunity to view my situation from the outside.

One sign that I may not be handling everything quite right came yesterday. I was visiting with a member of our church family, a relative of one of our staff members and I couldn’t remember her last name. I had her first name in mind. I could say the first name of her husband, but I couldn’t get their last name to come to me. And I needed to know it because she was asking for a simple letter of reference, which I was more than glad to give, but which would require me to type her last name into the letter. I know that my memory is not perfect, but I work hard at remembering names and being able to greet people by name. It was a bit embarrassing for me to not be able to bring her last name to my consciousness at the moment when I needed it.

Another sign that I have noticed is that when I have been asleep I wake with a start. I have always been one to jump out of bed as soon as I am awake, but normally I can allow myself a few moments to become fully awake. Right now, when I wake, I seem to become all the way awake in an instant, starting and feeling my heart beat quicken while I experience something akin to being short of breath unless I consciously make myself breathe deeply and slowly.

I’ve been good about keeping track of my schedule, but I haven’t yet gotten strategic about long range planning. I have been looking at one or two days in advance and just getting through my days one by one. This creates a certain kind of inefficiency, as I have not been grouping appointments and engagements into the most practical order. I get up early, work hard, and return to bed a bit tired.

Still, I think that I have been handling things quite well. I’ve been keeping up with the major obligations at work and haven’t been missing meetings or forgetting important obligations.

There have, however, been a couple of other clues that I’m not exactly at my best. One is that both one of my sisters-in-law and our family doctor both suggested that I see a counselor. I know better than to ignore sage advice from either of them. And I have referred countless people to counselors over the years. So I have complied and have set up an appointment to see a psychologist this week. If nothing else, it will be good to have someone else check me out and give me honest feedback on how I am doing.

The main clue is that I have been talking, talking, talking. I chatter on and on in every meeting I attend. I follow church members to the door of the building and out into the parking lot talking about my experiences and situation. I know that I am a talker, but I don’t think this is normal fo me. My job is not about me. It is about the people that I serve. My job is far more about listening than talking. When I get carried away with my talking, I need to pay attention to what is going on with me.

Obviously, we’ve encountered a major, life-changing event, something that we had not previously experienced. We have been blessed with exceptionally good health up to this point in our lives. We aren’t use to managing multiple medications. We aren’t used to having frequent doctor’s appointments. And learning about heart rhythm and the physiology of the heart is a fairly steep learning curve for us.

For so long I have responded to the frequent question of “How are you today?” with the simple words, “I am well.” That is still my habit and the response that I’ve been making this week as I meet with friends and colleagues and church members. But I need to check myself just a bit. I don’t want to be inaccurate in my response. It is worth asking myself whether or not I am really well. Maybe it is a good idea to consult with a psychologist just to make sure.

Sometime about a year ago, I started using a different question when I inquired about the wellness of a church member. I would say, “How is it with your soul?” I started making the inquiry in relationship to visits with a friend who was suffering from a terrible cancer and who was in the process of facing a long, slow death. It didn’t make sense to ask him “How are you?” when we both knew that he wasn’t doing too well. Asking about his soul or spirit gave us a much more meaningful line of conversation than asking about the state of his physical body.

It is a good question for me today. And I think I can say that it is well with my soul. I seem to have a song on my mind most of the time, and it isn’t just the song with “It is well with my soul,” in the lyrics that comes to my mind. I also carry around songs from a variety of other sources.

So, for the record, I’m doing pretty well. I’ve had a big scare and I’m not fully recovered, but for the shape I’m in, I’m in pretty good shape.

How is it with your soul today?

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!