The soul’s formation in Christ is our most significant endeavor. It requires us to attend to the realities, capacities, and needs of the soul in relational terms. When we do so we realize that our souls are “relationally permeable.” In our relationships, we absorb the presence of others. This is why our family of origin had such a substantial role in shaping the way we perceive, process and present ourselves in relationships. We learned a way of “being a me” in order to meet the five foundational needs of security, affirmation, control, significance, and competence. Our family of origin established for us our first emotional understanding of “normal” in relationships.
We believe Christian soul formation must take into account these early influences. Alan Jones describes this growth in awareness as “waking up.” We awaken to who, what, and how we were first formed in our earliest relationships. This is often not simply an enlightening experience. It can be painful and scary. As a result people often want to know what to do as they become aware of things. When faced with the question, “What do I do now?” the most important thing is to simply attend to what you are noticing. This is why the disciplines of solitude and silence are so important.
Solitude and silence are the disciplines that provide the space and stillness needed to listen deeply to our soul and the voice of God. Without the capacity to quiet and still the soul, the Christian life becomes pretty much a journey of spiritualizing our neurotic and compulsive tendencies in order to feel safe. Deep, substantial soul transformation calls for stillness before God, and a quiet listening to God. Our desire to do the next step is indicative of our compulsiveness to act. Often when we prematurely start “doing” we attempt to resolve issues within our souls by the very same ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving which created the difficulties and dilemmas in the first place.
Solitude and silence are the means by which God can speak into the deepest terrain of our soul. After all, we believe the work of transforming our souls is the work of the Holy Spirit. Solitude and silence are disciplines that foster the soul’s trust of the Spirit’s presence and His work of transformation. He has begun a good work in us, and He will bring it to completion.
As a Christian, don’t worry so much about what is next; rather intentionally seek to be attentive to the presence of God within you. Grow in your perception and realization that your life is held in Christ and that you live in union with the Triune God. That will be enough for now!