COLUMN: What do we feed our souls?

Published 12:33 am Sunday, January 28, 2024

By J. Adam Tyler
Guest Columnist 

Our family loves breakfast food. We like cinnamon rolls on a lazy Saturday morning, and eggs and bacon on a Sunday night. Morning coffee and Pop-Tarts are frequent choices during the week, and cereal and milk are favorite snacks.

I’ve noticed some correlations between what we eat for breakfast and how we act later in the day. When our breakfast consists of a cup of coffee or a Pop-Tart, it is hard to make it all the way to lunch; I’m often ready for lunch before 11:00 arrives. Saturdays with cinnamon rolls are mornings of intense energy, but then ravenous children raiding the snack drawer throughout the day. When we throw some longer-lasting carbs or protein into the mix, like a bowl of oatmeal or a couple of eggs, our family is more settled, more satisfied, and better able to concentrate on the tasks ahead of us.

I’m no nutritionist, but my observations align with what I’ve heard for a long time: what you eat matters. That doesn’t mean a half dozen eggs and a side of bacon is healthy, but incorporating protein and fiber into the first meal of the day helps our bodies and our minds in a variety of ways. Eating something more satisfying, more long-lasting, and healthier is incredibly helpful as we face the day ahead.

If that’s the case for our bodies and our minds, is it also true for our souls?

Growing up, a “daily quiet time” was held out as a vital part of a spiritual life. To be honest, most of the tools that helped with that practice were the equivalent of Pop-Tarts or breakfast bars: small and quick, a short snippet of Scripture or spiritual wisdom that checked off a box but rarely inspired great insight or introspection. It was even rarer for these quiet time guides to give anything more than pat answers and feel-good thoughts.

Such tools have their place – but those sorts of spiritual nuggets do little to prepare us for the difficult aspects of life and the challenges we face each day. For that, we need to regularly go deeper – not for any special knowledge, but for a more well-developed soul. That’s how we build the strength of our spirits and give them the fuel we need to face grief, pain, confusion, and hardship.

Many of us in the new year are making changes to our diet in the name of physical and mental health; I invite you to make changes to your spiritual diet, too. Pick a book of the Bible to read each week. Check out a classic from the library by a spiritual writer like Augustine, Thomas Merton, or Henri Nouwen. Commit to regular times of contemplative prayer. Make the decision to add some substance to your regular spiritual practice. As you do, you might find that your soul is stronger and your faith is deeper than ever before.

Rev. Dr. J. Adam Tyler is the senior pastor for Farmville Baptist Church, and he can be reached by email at pastor@farmvillebaptist.org.