Making eye contact from the movie screen, Mr. Rogers’ encouraged, “We’ll just take a minute and think about all the people who loved us into being.”
I took a minute in the theater.
Only two days earlier, I shared with a friend about a man who lifted a significant burden from me during a very difficult time in my life. After our conversation, I knew I needed to reach out to him to share how that one gesture of generosity and compassion affected me. I hoped this would encourage him to know his belief in me was not in vain.
Who loved me into being?
Memories flooded my mind. Memories of people who accepted and valued me, supported me, affirmed me, forgave me, nurtured me, mentored me just as I was – despite of what I had done and who I had become. When all we know is gone, it’s hard to know where we belong.
One person stood out above the rest. His gentle words of affirmation and encouragement were not just words. He took me under his wing, so to speak. He saw something in me. His invitation to embark on a journey of soul care may have saved my life. I had just about given up on people.
My new Christian friend discovered my life was far too frightening for her to get involved. But she had invited me to this new church. My first visit shortly before Christmas felt like home. There must have been more than a dozen people who knew me from the Starbucks store where I worked.
Who walks into a church for the very first time and is greeted with a dozen hugs by her favorite people? This was a place to begin; a place to belong. God assured me of it, because He loves the outcast. Others came alongside me from time to time. They were called to tend to the garden of my soul.
“What happened to you?” The director of the small nonprofit paused with eyes of compassion as she read through the story of my past career. “I want to offer you the job.”
Or when I sat down in the office chair after carrying boxes from the car belonging to the manager of the local food bank. “How did you end up in this place? Will you come to our annual dinner and share your story with our donors?”
Over a period of six months, friends opened their homes to my daughter and me when a loss of employment forced me to give up our apartment.
A new friend spoke a word of encouragement and suddenly I believed I had something worth sharing with others.
Resonating with an author’s story rattled my foundation and gave me hope. Angels were sent to speak into my life.
My prayers for you are full of praise to God as I give him thanks for you with great joy! I’m so grateful for our union! (Philippians 1:3-4 TPT)
Jesus lives through His people. I call them Souljourners. They love us into being. Souljourners shape our soul as they pass through a season of our life, even if only for a moment. A moment contains the power to alter our life. In a moment, our story can change.
Receiving a promise of God.
Love and encouragement.
A burden lifted.
Souljourners continue planting and tending to the garden of souls they encounter, one after the other. The actions of one can perpetuate itself. A Souljourner may stay with you awhile, appointed by God himself to remain as your spiritual gardener.
Jesus and his disciples were the essence of a Souljourner. As followers of Jesus, we are also born into a family of Souljourners. I can’t imagine how different my life would be today if I had not crossed paths with my sacred Souljourners. Whether they remain in my life or not, their soul print remains.