Soul Detox: Unclutter The Gutters of Your Inner World

Mar 21, 2024

Detox. When I hear the word, it makes me think of seasons in life of too much. Too much sugar or junk food. Too much sitting. Too much noise. Too much stress. Too much work on too little sleep. 

In those seasons, I feel exhausted, disgusted, fed up, frustrated, at my limit, and desperately in need of a change.

Enough’s enough! When I hear that phrase yelling out from my insides, it’s my signal I’m ready for a detox. 

Has your soul yelled, “Enough’s enough!” lately? Has your life felt like too much? Do you feel burdened down by all of the stuff that is screaming for your attention?

My missionary friend, is your soul begging you for a detox? It is weary of living this way and desperate for a change? How long has it been asking you to stop? 

Why do we feel like we can’t respond and keep suppressing our soul’s hoarse-from-yelling voice? Are we afraid of what might happen if we listen? If we pause? If we stop? If we make a change?

But what is more scary? What will happen if we stop? Or what will happen if we don’t?

We change when our pain is great enough or our desire is strong enough. 

What is a soul detox?

Picture with me clogged gutters. I know not all countries or houses have gutters, so here’s a quick description. Gutters are long troughs that run around a house, right under the edge of the roof, and they catch rainwater and send it away from the house, protecting it from water damage. When they get clogged with leaves and debris, it’s a disaster. The rainwater can’t run through them. Instead, the water rots your wood, damages your siding, floods your basement, or becomes home to insects or little critters who make their home in them. Fun times.

Think of your weary soul as a clogged gutter. Each damaging habit, refusal to rest, piece of pride, snippet of sin, or indulgence in things that continue to erode us one decision at a time, fills our soul with debris. And before we know it, the cacophony of critter voices has taken up residence in our minds, telling us there is no hope in sight. We feel ourselves rotting away, and no fresh coat of paint will hide the true damage.

Uff. This all sounds pretty heavy. But clogged gutters aren’t ruined gutters. And that clogged-up soul of yours? It’s not too far gone. It has cried, “Enough’s enough!” and the Lord of your soul hears.

So, where do we begin? If you cried out, you already took the first and most important step. Your journey has begun, so feel encouraged.

Speaking of crying out, in a recent podcast interview with therapist, pastor, and author, Lynne Themelaras, she stresses that acknowledging and processing our emotions is crucial to soul detox. Rather than suppress them, we should view our feelings as warning signs, indicating areas in need of attention and healing. 

On the episode, Lynne gave the analogy H.O.T.: honest, open, and transparent. When we adopt a posture of H.O.T., and find safe spaces where we can open ourselves up to others, we can begin to clear out the debris and mold that has been collecting in the corners of our souls, finally giving our spirits the leadership role, where they can lead us into wholeness.

One common challenge missionaries face is our tendency to become burden bearers. While it’s noble to support others, carrying their burdens without releasing them to the cross can lead us to emotional exhaustion and burnout. 

Learning to differentiate between caregiving and caretaking is criticcal for maintaining emotional health and setting healthy boundaries. (Caregiving says, “Thanks for telling me you’re hungry! Would you like a sandwich?” Caretaking says, “I’m hungry! That must mean you want a sandwich. Here, take it!”)

Another source of debris is comparing and competing. Who of us has not looked at another missionary and thought, “ARGH!! Why can’t I do it as well as them?! It feels like everything goes their way, and I’m constantly under attack!” or “I don’t have the skills they have. What am I even doing here?!” Constantly measuring ourselves against others and striving for perfection only serves to fuel feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. 

We hear it over and over, but when will we finally decide to believe it? Our worth is not determined by external achievements but ONLY by our identity in Christ.

One last significant obstacle to our soul care is some of our cultural norms of busyness. So many of us equate busyness with productivity and importance, leaving almost no space for rest and Sabbath. We must be bold and challenge this mindset! 

Our life in Christ isn’t a sprint; it’s more like a series of marathons with some sprints mixed in. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul tells us to run this race of life to win it. If we burn out and quit, we don’t win. 

How do marathon runners prepare for a race? They train and they rest. They stop some things and start others. They are deeply intentional about what they say yes to and what they say no to.

We would never wake up one day and decide to run a marathon without having trained well! And we would never run two back-to-back marathons without proper rest in between. If we did, we would injure ourselves dearly, and some might even quit the race or be out of the game for a very long time.

Let’s run this race to win it! That means adding some pace to our race and rest to our run.

So after all that…is it time?

Is it time for you to begin your soul detox? Or maybe a better question is, are you ready to listen to the cry of your soul and whisper of God’s Spirit in your spirit, calling you to a better way?

Grab your gutter-cleaning tool, put on your gloves, and grab a stepladder. And don’t forget to call a friend, mentor, spiritual director, pastor, or counselor. Gutter cleaning is always better with some help.

Begin by asking God what is clogging your soul. Get H.O.T. with yourself, with God, and with your chosen partner in this journey. Now listen. Really listen. I promise you, this is one prayer God is always ready to answer. What will you choose to do with what God reveals to you? That, friends-on-mission, that is what you get to decide.


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