I heard it said a long time ago that our souls are like deep water and that those who truly seek understanding will do whatever it takes to experience our soul. People who desire to experience the depths of their soul will initiate and draw out necessary experiences. Rather than turn from the discomfort they'll welcome it into their homes and lives. They'll wrap themselves in risk and intentionally set themselves up to be challenged.
For me, this came to a head about four years ago. My life was changing in every way - health, job, location, relationship, friends - it was all turned over like soil to grow an unknown crop. All my decisions until that point had been about becoming a person I wanted to be. My focus was young; it was set on burning bridges to places I didn't want to influence my future and building bridges to the areas I wanted to go and the man I wanted to be.
We can do a lot that points towards our potential without looking for who we are. We show accomplishments rather experience our worth. While accolades speak towards the world and create a social validation, our soul speaks outside of the world, outside of our life even, towards something greater. I'm finding what I do does allow me to converse and get along well with many people, but who I am is what connects me to them.
All this is the idea behind deep water, behind the work of our souls. We have to go to the places we don't naturally go to - have conversations, take risks, share how we feel, leave money to gain time, say what matters to us even when it doesn't match up to what the world thinks would be smart. We can even say what we believe matters most without living our lives like those beliefs matter at all. And if you live your whole life merely saying it would be good to go jump off a pier and sit under the surface to experience deep water, it gets you no closer to the shore. And if you wade waist deep, you are still too close to the safety - you haven't gone completely to the depths. You may suffice to say ankle deep is quite the experience and walk away. No one would blame you, but still, you'd look over your shoulder as you walk away. Worse yet is to come years later, or maybe weeks later, in a doctors office hearing terrible news and wish you had kept going.
What I am trying to say and trying to understand continually in my own life, is that our souls aren't geared towards safety. Sometimes the closer we come to pursuing our soul, the less safe our life appears. The less safe our life appears, the more doubt we feel. The more doubt we feel, the less likely we are to think that the most important work is the work we ought to be doing. After all, we should give our money and time to help innocent children, we should care for people unconditionally, our careers shouldn't get in the way of our families, and we should mean our vows... but when it becomes serious business, giving up our ideals for a "life is what it is" mentality becomes attractive.
The point is not to live dangerously or irrationally, as this can also be a way blanket the souls work with a lifestyle that says "Tada! Look what a beautiful thing I've made" without pointing towards the beauty we already are deep inside. The goal is merely to move intentionally and with the quiet purpose of one life mattering to the one next to it. The problem is until you've proven yourself time and again, people can see intentional and purposeful movements as irrational - especially during times when risk catches up to you - and our mental gauge credits others doubt to be right more than it is (a very human thing to do). The trickiest part is what is right and proper in a moment (such as saving finances or protecting yourself) does not necessarily set us up well for what we believe matters most or what we would like to teach our children over a lifetime (such as being generous and loving unconditionally).
All this is to say our souls don't ask us never to make mistakes. Our souls ask us to have grace when risk catches us off guard. Our souls teach us to persevere through difficult seasons - to do whatever it takes to draw out the depths of our soul. Our souls look at our lives and find the little adventurous idea we have, it tears the idea out from our mind and hands it to us like a good friend would hand over a map.