Nearly two months ago, I returned to walking on my treadmill each morning. Within a week of doing so, the treadmill went kaput. I bought a new one. There was a delay in receiving it—just long enough for me to change my morning routine.
It took discipline and sheer will to change that routine again and do the walking. But not only did my body need it, my soul needed it. During the surgery and aftermath and complications and setbacks, getting the virus and complications and all this medical nonsense that made me feel just bad enough to not want to do a thing, something worse happened. I broke the patterns of doing all the things I typically do every day to hydrate my soul.
Oh, I remembered to drink extra water. I’m only too familiar with what happens when your body becomes dehydrated—or when you drink just too much water to hydrate it and deplete potassium and salts. (Mildly put, brain fog. Worse case, convulsions that can result in death.) Hydration is serious business.
But for as bad as dehydration of the body is, dehydration of the soul is worse. It impacts and influences everything. Every thought, action, attitude. It drags you to places in your mind you know are bad and wrong and places you’d never consider visiting much less parking in when hydrated. But unlike body dehydration, soul dehydration typically happens a little bit at the time rather than in a fell swoop you can’t ignore. In fact, your soul can dry up so slowly that you don’t realize it’s happening until some cataclysmic event happens that shakes you to the core. Then the dehydration has your total attention and you stand stunned, wondering when and how it happened.
Evil works in such ways. Just a little. Just this once. It’s a small thing; insignificant. Evil will whisper through our consciences. And a little bit becomes acceptable, and then the next time, a little bit more is easier, and we rationalize away all of the good reasons that what we’re doing is wrong. Then—wham!—what we’re doing hits us hard, and we see evil for what it is. A liar and a thief. A little bit does matter. Just once does, too, and small things become big things when they’re the wrong things.
The Bible tells us that if we know right and wrong and do wrong, then we’re responsible. If we do not know right and wrong but then become aware of right and wrong, we are then responsible. Few in this country (psychotics aside) can claim not to know right and wrong. People choose to do what they will. We all choose. We make little decisions all day every day and with each one, we choose who we are as people. We choose to do right or wrong and that either hydrates our soul or depletes it of spiritual potassium and salts.
Hydrating the soul does for you spiritually what hydrating your body does for you physically. Your body is a like a machine. To function at its best, it needs, not wants but needs, hydration. Your soul does, too, and for the same reasons. Not that your soul is a machine, but because it holds ultimate influence over your entire self. Nothing that you do, or elect not to do, is not influenced by your soul. We tend to forget that, and it’s to our detriment that we do.
For example. You don’t feel like doing something you must do. It isn’t that you hate it, or resent it, you’re just not in the mood. Let’s say it’s a little thing. Getting milk from the grocery store. You choose not to get the milk. To live without it until tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes and you’re still not in a mood to run to the store. So you say, “Well, I made it fine without milk yesterday, I can do it today, too.” And before you know it, it’s been weeks and no milk. Now you’ve got a calicum deficiency and rather than telling yourself you should have gotten the milk, you blame anyone, anything else. Why didn’t the doc tell you that you were low on calcium? (Blame the doc–anyone, anything but yourself.)
Getting milk. A small thing. Seemingly insignificant. Only now you see and experience the consequences of the calcium deficiency. Weaker bones and teeth. Other challenges. Not good, you say, but certainly not your fault.
Maybe it isn’t your fault. Maybe if you’d gotten the milk you’d still be deficient. But just maybe the deficiency and the consequences wouldn’t have been as bad. Blame what you will, the fact of the matter is that choices do have consequences.
For me, the treadmill isn’t just a time to exercise the body. I drink a fair amount of water during my hour walk. I listen to spiritual music then. It’s a time of letting go of stress and worldly concerns and spiritually immersing. I’m exertcising the body, but also hydrating it and hydrating the soul. When I stopped walking, I stopped hydrating the soul, too. And the first thing I noted was feeling sluggish and impatient. Yes, I was physically sick and that contributed, exacerbated the problem, but I made it worse.
Attitudes, too, were impacted. Whereas before I would struggle to give benefit of doubt and not to judge, I grew colder and more distant, less compassionate and definitely less caring. In short, I avoided a catacylsmic event but only because I looked at the truth and it was ugly and I said, “This is not me. I am not this person.”
It was, I recognized, a classic battle of good and evil, and control of me would be the spoils of the war. That was a whale of a wakeup call. But it was totally classic.
Evil is insidious. And none of us are immune. I still had the respiratory infection, but I got back on that treadmill anyway and I returned to hydrating my soul. I made a choice. I continue to make choices all day every day. Evil doesn’t just quit because you refute it once. It’s a constant battle, a relentless battle. You have to not only choose to fight it but choose to keep fighting it. To control yourself, what you decide to take in and what you refuse to take in. The bottom line is that you choose whether to hydrate your body and soul or to forfeit them.
I’ve learned–and if you engage, you will, too–that in the battle of good against evil, you will fight or forfeit. There’s little middle ground. Evil will continue to creep and come back at you time after time after time—and then keep on coming. But I’ve discovered the tool for fighting that battle from a place of strength. From a place evil fears and from which it retreats. What is that tool that aids the soul?
It’s like any other tool or muscle used. The more you hydrate, the stronger you become. The more assets in your arsenal. The more proficient you become at using those tools and muscles. The more difficult it is to deceive you, use you, fool you.
Read your Bible, pray, learn to hit your knees first and not as a last resort. Fill your mind with goodness and light, with praise and gratitude, and conduct yourself with dignity and grace, bound by principles. You know right from wrong. Choose right. Embrace the good. Denounce and turn away from the wrong. Then repeat as needed.
Each time you exercise right choices, you make making the next right choice easier. And that is because you’re invoking the law of momentum, building on what you’ve already established. This, too, hydrates your soul.
Do a spot check. Are you dehydrated? If so, you know what to do–and you know the choice is yours to make.