This blog is an extension of a concept from a book I have not read but found fascinating enough to want to share. It is from “Soulful Spirituality” by David Benner.
Seriously, I don’t know anything about the book by Brenner except a conversation I had concerning the following idea, so everything you are about to read is my paraphrasing a concept that has helped me put words to a lot of what seemed to be scattered thoughts.
David Benner suggests (from what I understand) that there are two types of qualities that exist in the human makeup that heavily shape how we experience God and the world around us. There is the soul and there is the spirit. These words are being loosely used and are not the definitive soul and spirit that we are used to referring to but are small aspects of them.
Within our personhood, the spirit is on a constant gravitational pull upwards to the ideal, innocent world that the Garden of Eden was and represents. The spirit ascends relentlessly into the understanding and celebration of what was (and is) supposed to be the habitation of goodness, the thrill of the divine touching down on humanity and the assumed posture that life is meant to be lived with happiness, ease, and excitement. This transcendent position of spirit does not claim perfection or demand unwavering elation but is rather unyielding in its fundamental belief that our lives are not only capable, but rather designed, to live out the advantages of the pure, divine pleasures that existed when innocence had yet to be tampered with.
And in the same fleshly abode lives our soul. The soul intertwines itself intensely with the understanding that after the fall of man, brokenness pervaded the world around us, and the heart within us. The soul fuses its divine responsibility with the reality of sin and is on a committed magnetic pull to descend into the daunting task of facing off with the divine struggle that taunts man because of sin. The soul embraces the reality of brokenness and doesn’t try to fight it but rather fight for the training to be prepared for it until we cross this side of Heaven. The soul represents the ideology that we must learn to find God through the struggle, not in spite of it.
Here is the kicker. From what I understand, all of us apply one of these God-infused attributes dominantly in our daily lives and general thought processes. So, you make ask, “which one am I?” Or think, “That is sooo me!” as you read the two descriptions. For practicality sake, I am going to give one very simple example and insert how a “spirit” and “soul” personality might handle the situation.
EXAMPLE: Two people go out to dinner. As they are eating, the waiter asks if they are interested in ordering their special dessert of the night…a “truffle-kissed chocolate delight.” Simultaneously, one answers with a resounding “no thank you” and the other person with an excited “yes please!” The waiter decides to give them a minute. The two people decide to talk through their reasons.
The individual that said no makes a compelling argument that our bodies are not designed for an overload of sucrose and we need to be cautious with how much sugar, fat, etc we take in beyond a temperate amount. They go on to explain that health is so vital to the quality of life a person has and that is of the utmost importance to protect.
The other person who answered with a yes contends that life is about experiencing little pleasures and the secret to the quality of life is finding happiness where it is offered in moderation and living in the moment with the understanding that life is short and lets enjoy it to its fullest.
So who is right? Depending on whether you have more of a “soul” bent or a “spirit” leaning you will answer that question accordingly.
This is a simple example of the soul and spirit meeting together at a crossroads of possibility. If you are married or in any intimate relationship with someone, surely you can relate to many of these moments of seeing things so differently and certainly there are so many reasons why; from gender to personality type—opinions, values and ideas emit from our pores and we almost can’t help it…it’s just “the way we are.” Well, I am adding spirit and soul to my list of explanations of why I am the way I am inner dialogues that I have with myself (just in case no one else finds my elucidations as exciting as I do). I have come to believe these two descriptions of spirit and soul greatly assist in illuminating so much of my divine constitution and am quite grateful to be able to begin to wrap words around that.
“SPIRIT”: Have you ever met a person that just seems to be filled with hope and possibility sometimes with even having no reason to be? Or they are pumped with excitement and passion and enjoy things and people on a level far elevated than the status quo? It’s almost like they go to a transcendent place and can appreciate life, love, and laughter on a rich level that provokes imitation. But that’s what it would simply be—a drab copy of the untouchable quality they possess. It’s so powerful that you want to jump on their bandwagon (so to speak) and just taste the world they live in if even just for a moment. These are the people that personify the essence of “spirit.” The “spirit” quality is flexible, trusts in the goodness of others, believes there is more out there than what most settle for and aren’t afraid of how it looks or who is looking as they chase the light. They see the workings of the supernatural and are able to somehow embody the mystery and wonder of it. They seek to participate in majesty not just be spectators of it. Most of us thoroughly appreciate greatness and those who filter life through the transcendent lens help us to become a part of it.
“SOUL”: Have you ever encountered the individual who exerts effortlessly the soundness of mind to make solid, wise decisions that sets them and others up for a successful future of security and protection? They seem to be able to accept what cannot be changed and concentrate their efforts on what can. This person inspires trust and respect from those around them because they understand the responsibility they have been given and handle it with a great sense of reverence. You just almost want to hand your life over to them and hope they can make something great of it like they have of theirs. They are strong and resolved and are willing to fight for and protect what they have been given. They do not seem to be easily moved or confused and can almost sort through what is worth striving for and what is beyond a person’s ability. Their character is magnetic and their overall sturdiness is desirous. This is the “soul.” The “soul” quality has an uncanny understanding of the limitations of humanity and does not lament over them but accepts the terms and moves forward in confidence with the abilities amid human reach.
The spirit and soul bring such an awesome dimension of God’s character to humanity and are meant to compliment each other’s uniqueness. However, there are critical steps in the development phases in order for union to take place between them. For starters, it is essential for you and I to be aware which quality of God’s persona we more identify with. After that, the next task at hand is to ask the person you are in relationship/friendship with which one they more personify. Here the fun begins. Because as wonderful as these two components are, there of course, weaknesses to them.
WEAKNESSES OF THE “SPIRIT” QUALITY: The transcendent mindset is always looking forward but either not usually far enough or so far that they don’t seem to live in reality. The Garden of Eden has far been closed off for now and short-term living causes a reactionary lifestyle verses a proactive awareness. Manifesting an extreme “spirit” lifestyle can promote quite an agitation in others when everything from details to consequences seem to be unconsidered and, worse, uncared about. There is an aspect of the “Peter-Pan syndrome” where many will often be turned off to what they would consider immaturity or irresponsibility.
WEAKNESSES OF THE “SOUL” QUALITY: The grounded mentality relies heavily on accepting what is but often to the point that “what could be” is entirely abandoned. The freedom to change and experience mystique becomes almost impossible. The “soul” digs its heels into the ground so deep to manage what needs to be done that ground turns to concrete and change is hard to come by. The very security that is being sought turns to permanency and can be very unattractive to those who are desiring the hope of anticipation and newness. The lack of spontaneity and optimism can quickly creep in and very well may be viewed as parental or controlling.
But these are just some warning signs and are by no means necessarily true. They are just some thoughts to get you started. But back to the question in the example of the debate of the truffle-kissed dessert—who was right?
No one and both of them. See, often, we try to make the spirit and soul leanings a right or wrong. But both attributes are of God and show such a wonderful, beautiful side of who He is. We spend way too much time trying to change others…you know, bring them around to the “right side,” the “better way of doing things,” the “best way” really. I have come to believe this is futile and even destructive.
Of course, change is good and the best should always be strived for! But the kink in the armor of that thought process is that either the “soul” or “spirit” expression is the problem instead of understanding the actual value and working to find God’s best together on it instead of changing a person’s way of seeing God so uniquely. Let me explain.
Someone who embodies the soul mentality will often get frustrated at the spirit way of doing things and will express concepts like, “Oh, grow up!” This is an attempt to persuade (or guilt) the spirit individual to come over to the soul’s way of perceiving things. A much more constructive way to handle that is seeing the spirit dimension and acknowledging the beauty in it but finding a solution that honors God and your relationship in the process.
A transcendent type will often get annoyed at the soul dimension and imply thoughts like, “Live a little!” This is an effort to influence (or guilt) the soul side to see things from the spirit’s perspective instead of appreciating theirs and building from there.
See both entities of soul and spirit were given to humans as a way to experience God in the best way for them decided by God’s design of them. To try to alter that in a permanent manner is not only futile but dishonoring. However, to bring balance to the design is so caring and shows great honor to the Designer. To know how you understand God’s plans of how Heaven and earth work together is freeing and inspiring. The spirit who is drawn to the wholeness of the divine intention will always strive to bring that aspect to earth despite all its brokenness and cracks. The soul who is aware of the design on earth amidst the chaos will bring God’s order and beautiful arrangement to His creation as long as they draw breath.
So, if you are tempted to fight against this makeup in yourself or others, I would encourage you to embrace it and be thankful God counted all of us trustworthy enough to bare His image in multiple facets.
To the spirit who takes us places we could never go on our own, I say thank you. Thank you for passing on the wonder of the divine to sometimes a very mundane surrounding. Thank you for believing and seeing a supernatural realm of wholeness and pleasure that God intends His creation to experience because He is good and delights in us. Sure, you will need to “grow up” and mature into balance and wisdom but we gladly join you as you transcend to the Heavenlies in the everyday opportunities life affords. Thank you for the invitation to experience Heaven on earth.
And to the soul who embraces the responsibility of man and the charge God has put in our care, I say thank you. Thank you for caring about God’s order and design for our everyday needs and provisions and being committed to helping to bring about security and provision in our bodies, minds, and emotional well-being. Sure, you will need to cut some ties and let your feet off the ground a little and maybe even “grow down” and view some immaturities in all reality as maturities (flexibility, moderate gratifications, etc) but we gladly join you as you keep our minds and lives set on the realities of our surroundings and the challenges we must learn to face in this lifetime. Thank you for the invitation to experience Heaven on earth.
And, most of all, thank you God for giving Yourself in so many extraordinary ways. May we rejoice in all your revelations and manifestations as we learn to surrender our own desires and be all that You have designed us to be!