Do you think it’s possible to see negative personality traits become positive traits with help from a simple soul friendship practice? Anything you don’t like about your personality? Would it be appealing to have a heart connection with a friend or two where you meet weekly or more frequently for a few minutes or an hour, face to face, online, or by phone or text and share your heart’s responses to your daily life and then actually pray for each other either right then or privately? Could it make a difference in your life?
True story. A fella we will call Drew has been doing mission work in Asia for several years, but his parents, Susan and John, say that Drew had a difficult personality from the day he was born. They work alongside Drew and his family in Thailand. However, his mother felt so distressed by Drew’s negativity, aggressive anger, and way of coming across as a not so caring person that she thought she might have to leave the field and return home.
But Susan and John learned about this present day practice of soul friendship and began to take a few minutes daily somewhere during their busy days to connect with each other and God. They searched their hearts for responses to the day or week’s events and carefully listened to each other share without any judgment or trying to fix the other person or situations that came up. They shared their emotions via SASHET—acronym that simply stands for sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, tender. Not an exhaustive list but rather just a helpful guideline. Other emotions can definitely be shared as well.
Some call it a church of two, your portable temple or church, or CO2.
Intrigued with the idea, Drew decided to try it with his wife. He began to change in ways everybody could see. He liked doing the practice so much that he invited others to join him in sharing their lives and spiritual journeys through this check-in with the heart. He became patient, rarely gets angry now, smiles and laughs often, doesn’t get so annoyed with others, and takes a genuine interest in and care for others. Just since CO2.
Drew’s brother Shane, an avowed atheist, living in the States, was in regular dialogue with Drew as the experiment in CO2 got underway. He could see this personality change in Drew happening for the better. Surprising everyone, Shane accepted Drew’s invitation to try a CO2 with him. Perhaps they called it something else. . . just brothers checking in daily on a heart level.
So Shane has his own story of transformation. He has a temperament that everyone loves, according to his mom—gentle, caring, kind, lovable, yet born with many learning difficulties. His teen years were very troubled. A high school sweetheart got pregnant but then they broke up. He got into alcohol and drugs and a series of unhappy relationships, got to where he couldn’t hold down a job, became suicidal. He was resistant to God through it all. Later he married the mother of some of his kids but was still not keen on God.
But after 3 or so months of daily check-in’s Tim said, “This is the best thing that has ever happened to me my whole life.” Perhaps not an atheist after all.
The listening in silence may be the most rewarding part of the practice—it’s so untried by most Americans. In this silence you invite God into your space to give you a bit of His good thoughts toward you, about your life. Unexpected thoughts of comfort and kindness often come to mind.
All I can say is try it. Try meeting in person, over the phone, via email or even text every day if you can with one other person, a trustworthy friend you can safely entrust details of your day and your heart to. Just do what works—two or three times a week, once a week. Begin with gratitude about anything good in your life or an experience where you have encountered the presence of God, or even an appreciation of a person or event. Gratitude turns on the relational circuits in the brain.
Then simply share how your heart feels about the stuff going on in your life…not just the facts. Anyone can tell how busy they are and all they accomplish on the checklist or recount how awful the day went due to this and that.
Talk about how you feel about the press of debts and bills or your long to-do list, or the silence between you and a friend, whatever it is, big or small. Just what you want to share. No need to dig up your darkest secrets, just deal with today.
Then listen in the quiet of 2 to 5 minutes—short is best in the beginning. It will seem long if you’re not used to it, but it can become a calming, life-giving way to live. Listen for life-giving thoughts, images, ideas. Share, and be blessed by the mutual rewards. Then pray for each other—in person or in private.
Prayers bring blessing and help either way. Could prayer with others help us heal and become our best selves?
Do you feel like something is missing in your life? Too much anxiety, too little enjoyment of this thing called life? Perhaps a soul friend could add some sunshine to your cloudy days, emotional salve to your hurts, an increased sense of well-being.
Try a soul friendship, a CO2. You might be surprised by more than mood improvement. Perhaps your rough edges will smooth out a bit. Maybe a glimmer of new hope will pierce your weary gloom on a particular issue.
God is full of surprises and loves to give gifts. Soul friendship is a gift that keeps on giving. How has soul friendship enriched your world?