Reframing the Soul

Reframing the Soul by Gregory Spencer

Inside Your Frame

What’s the last thing you say to your kids as they’re walking out the door? To your spouse?

I want the last words I say each time to be: “I love you.” But too often, it might be this: “Be careful!”

I sometimes frame my life too much around safety.

The words we use build a frame around our lives.

What is the picture inside your frame?

Reframing the Soul

In Reframing the Soul by Gregory Spencer, our words are given the importance they’re due.

Reframing the Soul

“We label, we name, we frame all of our experiences, past, present, and future. We give words to our inner and outer worlds. In doing so, we construct a kind of home we carry with us.”

When we remember the past, we don’t do so with perfect clarity. We individualize the frame to fit us. When we look at the present, we do so through our own personal lenses. And when we think about the future, again we’re framing it based on our experiences and worldview.

Spencer doesn’t suggest that the goal is to frame everything positively. He’s not trying to convince us to put our spin on things.

But he does want us to see that every word is a window.

“Since every word is a window, we are all called to examine our speech, our conversation and writing, to ask whether the view out a particular window is worth our gaze, whether our THAT should actually be a THIS.”

Throughout the book, Spencer helps us frame our world in more appropriate ways. He uses a method called the four essentials of the soul:

  • Remembering the past with gratitude
  • Anticipating the future with hope
  • Dwelling within ourselves in peace
  • Engaging with others in love

Spencer relates the story that a blogger, reflecting on her parenting, noticed she always told her kids, “Have fun!” when they walked out the door. And when they returned, “Did you have fun?” Until she realized: her framing was reinforcing a worldview that everything should be entertaining and highly pleasureable.

And we all know, life isn’t always about fun.

Jesus talked about measuring our words. In Matthew 5:22, it’s recorded that Jesus said, “Whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

“Though Jesus doesn’t mean that our words are all that matters, he does mean that our words matter.

And so I recommend the words of Gregory Spencer in Reframing the Soul. He brings a needed emphasis on how we’re framing our lives. And a clearer focus on choosing to frame them better.

“Yet, no matter how severe our circumstances, we have choices about how we frame things.”

More Favorite Quotes

Our confidence is not in our circumstances (which might not improve) but in God (who will redeem the circumstances).”

~ * ~

“No matter what one person tells you, no matter how airtight their case seems to be, there is always, always, always another way of looking at it, another (not necessarily equal) way of framing.”

~ * ~

“Much of the time, we struggle to remember that the stories others tell make sense to them. Some stories we hear are so contrary to our ways of framing that we are flabbergasted. But it is immensely helpful for ‘engaging well’ to listen appreciatively to a different version of the story, to listen to others the same way we want to be heard, with respect. Though intentional deception is always possible, more often than not, people have their reasons for framing their story the way they do. We might disagree—even strongly—but unless we hear the story out, we are unlikely to work things through.”

~ * ~

“Or maybe the human memory is more like a stomach, something that changes what it ‘digests.'”

~ * ~

Instead of saying, ‘This is exactly what happened!’ we might say, ‘This is how I remember what happened.’

* * *

My thanks to Net Galley
for the review copy of this book

37 thoughts on “Reframing the Soul

  1. Pam Ecrement

    Good stuff here, my friend. The theme of how we frame and reframe things is a powerful one. I was often talking about this theme when I was still in clinical practice. I used to tell my clients and our memory is not like a videotape in HD. Your words about “words” also mesh with a lot of I have been writing about words. Thanks!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know you gave such wise advice not only during your counseling years, but now, too. I’m on page 180 of your book! I’m excited to continue seeing Becky’s story play out in the conclusion.

  2. Rebecca Jones

    We speak either life or death as Proverbs says, death is like everyone’s first language. And is is like we take it too seriously or not seriously enough. I don’t think we have to pick apart everything but we need to know Jesus says it’s not what goes in but what comes out that defiles us. So much of the Bible is about what we say.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Hmm…that’s a good question, Sherry. I haven’t heard if there will be an audio version. It was published this March by Abilene Christian University Press and Leafwood Publishers, so if I had to guess, I’d say probably not. ?

  3. Rebecca Hastings

    This is so important, and so often I forget. I say, “Have a great day” as my kids leave but long for them to know it’s okay to have an okay day or even a lousy day. Such a simple truth that we can use to live life more authentically, more fully, and more in line with God’s truth.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know, Becky. I often say the same thing, as if everything has to be “great!” when life isn’t always that way. I assume we all know what each other means, but sometimes it might feel more authentic if we’d be more specific about what we expect out of a day. 🙂

  4. Dianna

    Wow! This gives me a lot to think about. I’m leaving this comment on 9-11 and I think my fixation on safety at times comes as a result of 9-11-2001. But it really makes me stop and think about how I frame my words and the pictures it puts out there for those I am speaking with. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing about this book.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I think this has even more meaning in light of events like 9/11, Dianna. I totally get what you’re saying. That day shifted a lot of things for us. When my soul starts drifting more towards safety in circumstances than in Christ, I know I need to do some deeper soul work.

  5. Joanne Viola

    Such wisdom in framing our thoughts correctly. You brought back to mind the very words my mom used to say as my brother and I would leave for school: “Remember, walk with The King today!” I must admit, those words framed my days well. It was quite hard to cheat or get into trouble at school when those words echoed in your head all day 🙂 My list of books to read yet grows again!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What a beautiful saying from your mom, Joanne! That’s a great message to be sent off with. You were blessed. I’ll have to borrow her words to say to others as well as to say to myself. 🙂

  6. Laurie

    I read one time that telling your kids (or grandkids) “Be careful” makes them more likely to be fearful and afraid. I, however, am guilty of telling my kids exactly that (and grandkids too!) How much better to say “I love you!” as they are walking out the door.

    I like all your quotes, but the one about “there is always another way of looking at it” one is especially meaningful to me.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s interesting, Laurie…I can believe that. I’ve read that having more locks on our doors can make us more afraid as well. I guess those things remind us of danger lurking around. (Even though they also can help us feel more secure. lol) I’ve tried to not say “Be careful” every time now, as if saying it was a guarantee that it would work, and instead entrust them to God. Although I do still often say, “Drive slowly!” to my kids. 🙂

  7. Trudy

    This sounds like an interesting book, Lisa. As I reflect on this, I can see how my life has been a constant reframing. I’m often weighing my words. I’m always so afraid of saying or not saying the right words. And I have to ask myself when I receive words from others, too – “Am I analyzing this too much? Am I looking through the lens of past hurts or am I looking with the lens of Jesus?” Thank you for bringing all this to our attention. Yes, our words matter so much. Love and hugs to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You make a good counterpoint to this, Trudy, that sometimes we can overthink our words too! In the end, we have to entrust both our words and our intentions to the Lord, and believe that he will sort things out for the best. I’m thankful we have such a great Savior who can do that. Blessings to you, friend!

  8. floyd samons

    This is a very interesting subject. I guess we’re all guilty of using words to try to protect our world and worldview.

    I think trying to see our world from a different perspective helps us see and understand other’s as well.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Now if we just had more humility….that would solve much of our longing to protect ourselves with our words (and with our possessions, etc.) I’m reading James Comey’s book now and he speaks about having enough confidence to be humble. I’m grateful our confidence can rest on the Lord; it frees us up to be more humble.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It’s so hard not to say “be safe” every time. I still do it too often. I sometimes think I use it as a magic charm…as if I don’t say it, something bad will happen. That makes me NOT want to say it because I don’t want to believe in superstition but rather believe in the Lord. We’re complex beings. 🙂

  9. Lesley

    This sounds like an interesting and thought-provoking book. I hadn’t thought about how much the last words we say to people in a conversation can reveal how we’re framing things. And it’s easy to get caught up in our own perspective- it’s important to remember that others may see the same situation quite differently.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it’s super easy to stay in our own minds and not consider how others are perceiving a situation. We just assume they see it like we do, the right way! ha. I think the past two years in our country has brought a new level of wake-up calls that we don’t all see things alike. Reconciliation and repentance would come in handy for our country as well as for us personally.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I liked those four essentials as well, Mary. The author really digs deep into each one of those levels and puts considerable time into explaining them. I appreciated that he didn’t just create a list and leave it there.

  10. Jean Wise

    Words are so powerful – affecting others and affecting our hearts. My spiritual director tells me to listen to my own vocabulary. Often I learn so much paying attention to the words I chose. This sounds like a great book. You always have a great finds.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “listen to my own vocabulary” – That’s a great exercise that I would benefit from as well. I heard on a podcast just today that if we look back at old journals and discover that we’re still complaining about the same things, we need to get a new perspective and use different words. 🙂

  11. Mary Geisen

    Oh my goodness! This books sounds wonderful. I love the idea of reframing our souls. I also like the idea that the words we use build a frame around our lives. There is so much in what we say that affects others. The quotes that you shared are amazing. Thanks for sharing this book with us.

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