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Is Something Stealing Your Joy? Soul Care Tips for Spiritual Health

My desire to care for plants has grown over the years, as there’s something deeply satisfying about nurturing something living. For Christmas, a friend gave me a gorgeous corn plant. I named her Joy, and she quickly became my favorite. She has two long stalks with deep green cascading leaves like a palm tree. But after a few months, her leaves started turning brown and yellow, and she wasn't thriving. I tried everything: more water, less water, fertilizer, even hydrogen peroxide for root rot. I trimmed dead leaves, adjusted the light... and asked every plant expert I knew for advice! Nothing seemed to work.

Corn plant with long, drooping leaves and clusters of brown and yellow spots

The Turning Point

Driven by desperation, I knew I needed in-person help— was there a plant hospital?! Thankfully, someone recommended taking my plant to a local nursery to see a woman named Mary, a true plant whisperer. At first glance, Mary only saw a thirsty plant. But then she put on her glasses, took a closer look, and —there it was! Spider mites! Tiny black specks slowly crawling up the leaves. "It wasn't you," she reassured me. I wasn't failing as a plant mom. I reacted to symptoms, but the true problem needed a targeted solution.

The Spiritual Parallel

This made me think of how Jesus works with us. He's the master gardener of our souls. Where we see symptoms — shame, fear, addiction, abuse of power, materialism, contempt — Jesus sees the root cause. We often create well-meaning systems to manage problems, not eradicate them. How do we know when we're just managing symptoms rather than addressing the core issue? How do we know if our well-intentioned efforts actually stop what's harming our spiritual health?

The Need for Extraction

Sometimes, healing requires extraction before a solution can take root. Those spider mites were draining my plant's life. Literally sucking the nutrients out of it. No amount of good care would save it without first getting rid of the pest.

Soul Care Practices for Christians

As followers of Jesus, we need the Holy Spirit to examine our lives. To spot the deeper issues hidden from our sight. It’s challenging to know our own hearts. I wonder if this is why David prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23 - 24). We need the Spirit of God to “turn the leaf” of our soul to see if there is anything eating away at our spiritual well-being. Because when a parasite is sucking you dry, it doesn’t matter how much sun, food, and water you receive— you won’t make it. Checking in with God to examine our hearts is a matter of life and death for you and your communities.

Corn plant with healthy vibrant green leaf restored after spider-mites treatment

Introducing “Our Soul Care Guide”

Our guided resource, Soul Care: A Guide to Examining Your Spiritual Health, will help you observe the “symptoms” of spiritual depletion in your life and/or community. It will walk you through a conversation with God about what needs treatment and the things you might not see on your own. It will give you language and a framework to invite the Holy Spirit to help you take a closer look. I encourage you to approach this exercise without assumptions. In humility, let God’s presence, word, and community offer fresh perspectives and challenge your understanding.

Click here to download our free Soul Care Guide.


Gabrielle Michelle Leonard

Gabrielle M. Leonard

Founder and Director of
Returning to Joy

Gabrielle Michelle Leonard is a dynamic speaker, facilitator, certified mental health coach, minister, and podcaster. She is known for being a captivating storyteller and bible teacher who imparts practical wisdom that heals the soul.

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