“Many people go through their entire life never speaking words to another human being that come out of what is deepest within them, and most people never hear words that reach all the way into that deep place we call the soul” (13). Larry Crabb wants readers, leaders, and the church to embrace a deeper relationship with one another. An authentic and committed relationship that produces healing, transformation, and renewed soul. Crabb illustrated an iceberg where one can see the tip but underneath is massive life form that most people are afraid to reveal. Why do people are afraid to talk about what’s underneath? Crabb informs that most people tuck their soul out of sight and desperately to ignore that something is missing they can’t supply. We cannot experience the love and joy of real life until we’re connected to another at the level of our soul (17). In the book, Soul Talk, Crabb gives five points to consider regarding soul talk. One must think beneath, thing vision, think passion, think story, and think movement.
Think beneath correlates to the analogy of an iceberg. One must see the real battle that’s being fought in someone’s soul (31). I have encountered several young people who are deeply troubled in school. I can accept the punishment given to them but as Crabbe suggests, one must pay close attention to what’s inside (35). For example, a student threw a chair to one of my co-workers. It is a behavior that deserves expelling. However, I took a time to talk to the child, and spend time with him. It didn’t take one day but several months for the student to open up the pain that he bears due to imprisonment and death of his father. Crabbe gave out three strategies when someone shares a struggle.
First, resist the urge to run. There are times that when things get private and personal, one tends to avoid such situations. This is the opportunity to reach out to his soul and speak life to it. Listen to his soul; the pain, the struggle, and the inner confusion within. Second, resist the urge to help. One can say loving words, or do something drastic by offering noble help. However, sometimes, it is better to resist fixing the problem. Other times, it is better to allow the Holy Spirit work through them. Third, resist to refer. Think beneath to what is most alive in you and to what is most conflicted in him (43). Therapists, psychologists, counselors, and other pastors can help the student, but there is also the life of God in us that can produce healing into the student’s life. Someone opens up a struggle to you because this person trusts you. Referring them to others can hurt the person of being dismissed.
Crabb also suggests to think beneath with our own struggles. We are also broken vessels. Crabb points out that it is important for each leader be known by someone, not by a crowd or a committee, but a by a person, a close friend, an intimate companion. And not merely held accountable, but genuinely known in an intimate, vulnerable, painfully real, long-term relationship (53). Sometimes, we may not see the battle going on deep in our soul. When one thinks beneath and more, one will see the real battle. “We will not speak into anyone’s life with supernatural power until we see the battle” (67). Crabbe gives three truths when facing the real battle.
First, it involves authentic encounter. When the student, opened up about his struggles dealing with his father, that was an authentic encounter because the wall around his soul weakens. This process is hard but when one spend time to the troubled person and they can sense that you are authentic, one will sense the authenticity in you. Walls will crumble, and sometimes, not all the way, but they are opening up for the Spirit of the Lord to speak life. Second, it requires communion with the Trinity. There is harmony between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is important to feel the rhythm of the Spirit to speak life to one’s soul. There are times when one assumes that advises are helping, however, it actually creates havoc in someone’s soul. Crabbe summarizes that when our heart is in tune with heaven’s music, we can dance into battle (70). Third, it waits for the Spirit. One must need to have patience. Praying is also important for God can reveal the battle and can let us speak power into people’s lives. Overall, with these three truths, one can experience God through means he provides. The battle is on.
Think vision is following the Spirit to his goal. It is the second element of Soul Talk. If my goal is that the struggling student fix his relationship with his father, then I have already failed the vision. What if the real goal is for the student to have his own soul restored? The pain and the trouble will continue but a vision to know God will focus his desire to God more where he will experience peace and joy. It is also important to understand our own motivation when reaching deep into people’s lives. It is about pleasing God and not the us nor the world. We can live to know God and find ourselves enjoying him so much we want to reveal what he’s like to others (108). There is passion in us, a loving grace from God, that can transform people’s soul.
Think passion is discovering what is most alive within us and releasing it to others. Crabb gives three movements when it comes to think passion. First, think high enough about vision to think low enough about yourself that you’re humbled into brokenness. Brokenness, inspired by spiritual vision, is the key to releasing holy passion (116). This is understanding or finding brokenness in us. When was the last time that you were on your knees, felt abandoned, and broken for yourself or for the world? This is when we feel so empty that relying on God’s grace is a must for us to survive. A total desperation for God’s presence. Then, we see our self-centeredness, which is the second movement. It is a visible selfishness, a clear violation of love and moral standards (121). There are times that we see others’ selfishness and loathsome attitude that we tend to act self-centered. We judge them for being selfish that we are not speaking life to them. True brokenness depends not only on seeing visible selfishness, but also on discerning the deep self-centeredness that energizes our words even as relate with warmth and interest (123). If we can see that, we can follow through and think passion. The third movement is releasing our holy passion. When we see the battle in our soul, when we know that God is a powerful God, and when we see the brokenness in us and the world, we are living reminder for God to use to empower others. We have a story to share.
Think story is the fourth element of Soul Talk. As we enter another’s story with transcendent curiosity, we can learn his life. When the troubled students shared his story, I listened. I felt the brokenness in him. There is sympathy, however, Crabb wants more than that. Crabb wants us to move beyond empathy and accountability to the most unpracticed relational movement in modern culture – transcendent curiosity. We can give advice, even godly advice to hurting people but if we don’t hurt when they are hurting, we are not really connected to them. The other three elements are important when it comes to listening to people’s story. Think beneath, think vision, and think passion. What is the real battle happening inside this student’s soul? How is God stirs his soul? How is my brokenness and my story relates to his struggles? When I have all three, I can speak with transcendent curiosity into his life.
Crabb gives four thoughts to consider. First, if you do not weep over their pain, perhaps literally, you will never speak Soul Talk. It is Scriptural as a body of Christ to weep when another weeps. Second, if you hear nothing more than her pain, if you can envision no greater good than relief, you will only speak Self Talk. Listen to their story. Third, if you shift back from a focus on their suffering to a harsh focus on their responsibility, you run the risk of losing them. Provide hope and encouragement. And fourthly, if you moved toward them with transcendent curiosity, if you lifted your ear to hear the melody from heaven that invites them to trust the Father who watched his Son suffer so that he could welcome them to his party, then, and now until then, you would know what to say (152-153). There is pain in all of us. There are people that will deny the past. There are people that will continue life so they can move forward. But, how can we tell our story if we cannot go back to face the past? We must learn to tell our story of our soul, and we must listen as others tell theirs (178). Allow God to speak through our story.
The final element of Soul Talk is think movement. It is allowing the Spirit to penetrates every defense against brokenness and every layer of self-sufficiency until the true self that he has created is released to love God the supreme treasure of the human soul and to love others on behalf of Christ, at any cost (31-32). Our story is also His story. There are things that we cannot control. However, the mystery should be embraced and let the Holy Spirit do His works. The spirit moves people toward knowing God more intimately and relating to others more deeply (238). The journey of life is long, there will be waves of trials and troubles. There are times that words cannot express the pain the one’s go through. However, there is one thing I know; God is in control.
“Soul Talk requires death to the self, the crucifixion of self-obsession, and the resurrection of God-obsession” (261). It is not easy to do Soul Talk, but when it being spread in congregational life, transformation happens. The souls are being revived and doors are being opened for the Spirit to consume. It requires time, honesty, humility, and reliance on the Holy Spirit to do Soul Talk. Crabb talks about brokenness. In our church today, do we deal with brokenness? In our bible study, do we dig deep beneath the trouble of our brothers and sisters in Christ? In Youth Group, do we allow the youth to speak life towards others, and listen to their struggles towards life? In Church, do we embrace brokenness? In relationships, do we tackle the real issue instead of looking only to what we know? In friendship, do we allow ourselves vulnerable with one another with authentic relationship? In Christian life, do we think beneath, think vision, think passion, think story, and think movement to encounter a transformative Christian life? If we can go beyond our false smiles, and identify our story, and others’ story, then maybe we can do make a difference in our community.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:11)
If you need counseling or someone to talk to regarding your deepest pain. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Crabb, Larry. “Soul Talk.” Integrity Media, Brentwood, TN. 2003. Print.