Recently me and Joanna have been asking each other a fascinating question… what restores your soul?

There are certain things that make each of us come alive. Or to use a Stephen Covey phrase, they provide genuine re-creation. They bring true joy to us, so much so that our souls become refreshed and restored through doing them.

Once you discover what restores your soul, you can then include some of those practices into your rhythm of life. We tend to think of this for being purely ‘spiritual’ activities, like reading the bible, praying, fasting, worshipping and the like. But whilst these are definitely important, maybe there’s a place for including some other activities that also refresh us.

For Joanna three of these activities include:

Nature: Being in beautiful and ideally vast natural places bring joy to her soul. Ideally this means trips to places like the Lake District or Exmoor, but it can also simply include walking through a park on a beautiful autumn day.

Animals: Getting chance to play with dogs and cats definitely brings her joy. And since our cat died over two years ago she hasn’t had that regular contact. But finding opportunities to interact with these pets is a great way to alleviate stress and restore her soul.

International travel: Joanna has a call to be an international missionary, and something about being in other cultures, learning new languages, tasting new foods and making friends with people around the world makes her come alive.

For me three things would include:

Cities: For some reason the buzz of being in a major city makes me come alive. So it’s great that I live in London, but I also love to visit and explore other new cities. This summer we got to spend time in Chicago, and it’s amazing how quickly I lost my tiredness when we arrived downtown and started finding our way around.

Music: There’s something about listening to music and playing music that restores my soul. I think I’ve put this on hold too much recently, and only been picking up my guitar to practice worship songs. That’s important, but I think God also refreshes my soul simply through the act of playing or listening to music, regardless of whether its ‘worship’ or not.

Dinner parties: I love having good friends over for dinner, and relaxing together over a good meal that seems to stretch out for the whole evening. The conversations that happen and the relationships that build really do refresh me.

So there’s three ideas for you from our marriage. But what restores your soul? What things that you do, that may not seemingly be ‘spiritual practices’, actually refresh and energise you? And once identified, can you regularly bring them into your rhythm of life, alongside the other spiritual disciplines you practice?

Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.

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