You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body. — George Macdonald
The first time I saw this quote years ago, it was attributed to C.S. Lewis. Instead, a little research referenced George Macdonald as the source. He said, “Teach [your children], you are a soul; you have a body.’ As we learn to think of things always in this order, that the body is but the temporary clothing of the soul,” [it changes our view of dying]. I believe understanding that the body is the temporary clothing of the soul changes our view of living as well!
I am very much out of my league in attempting to write about the soul. I am neither smart enough nor well-read enough to handle such a metaphysical topic. Still, that being said, I am simple enough to know that consideration of the human soul is largely neglected today in our culture–especially among young people. As Christian moms, our young adults are growing up in this culture no matter what their level of engagement with it is.
I’ll admit I get a little disillusioned at times as I observe high school sports awards programs or honors banquets. High school is a microcosm of achievement for some extraordinary–but mostly ordinary–accomplishments. It’s not that we shouldn’t encourage kids who are doing well.
But I sometimes wonder what the great young people from history would think if they were to walk among us. Did they congratulate themselves as much as we congratulate ourselves? Would they think we invest in vain pursuits? Would they see something lacking in our collective depth of soul? What would they observe about kids these days?
And what about us as parents? Do we have eyes to see the state of our children’s souls as much or more than we see their educational prospects or their athletic training?
As Christians, we certainly need to care about our children’s souls. It is the part of us that is made for eternity–created in the image of God. The soul is what sets us apart from the animals. It is what makes us more than gray matter and muscle tissue. We have a person-hood which inhabits these bodies. And once this life ends, the soul will either ascend to God or be cast away for eternity into the lake of fire. Pretty significant stuff!
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Revelation 3:5
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15
It is one thing to know these truths for ourselves, but more difficult to entrust them to the next generation. As this weighs on my own heart, I find myself asking: what messages are we sending to our children about their own body, mind, and soul? What provision do we make for the souls of our children? How are we actively working with our young people to grow and feed their souls? Are we willing to tell the body no in order to tend the soul? Are we willing to battle the mind when needed for the sake of the soul?
Again, learning that the body is but the temporary clothing of the soul may well shape one’s view on dying. And it will also inform one’s view of living. Learning and remembering that they are a soul clothed in a body may very well impact how young people view TODAY. They were built for eternity: not the next party, not the next crush, not the next college acceptance letter. They were made for eternity. And so were we.
May we be diligent to wade upstream against the strong current of what the world is selling our children and draw our children’s minds, bodies, and souls to something greater than themselves and their generation…to loving the Lord with all of their being–body, mind, and soul. And Mothers, may we set an example in this for them to see and know firsthand.
In Christ’s love, Erika