The sinkhole syndrome

By Dave Henning / February 21, 2015

In Chapter 8 (“The Soul Needs a Center”) of Soul Keeping, John Ortberg notes that Florida has a problem with sinkholes because the limestone that lies beneath the earth’s surface slowly is being dissolved by acid rain.  When enough limestone is eaten away, the void simply collapses under the weight of an inadequate foundation now incapable of providing support.

Gordon MacDonald describes “the sinkhole syndrome” in his book Ordering Your Private World.  Traumatic events, such as harsh criticism or vocation loss, trigger “the sinkhole syndrome” in our life.  It feels like the earth has given way.  Mr. MacDonald adds that we have two worlds to manage, an outer world and an inner world.

Outer world

1.  a world of career, possessions, and social networks

2.  visible, measurable, and expandable- easier to deal with

3.  demands our attention

Inner world

1.  more spiritual in nature- a place where values are selected and character is formed

2.  where worship, confession, and humility can be practiced

3.  often cheated and neglected because it doesn’t shout quite so loudly

We effectively can ignore our inner world for large periods of time before we experience a sinkhole-like cave-in.  Many years ago, Oscar Wilde described a similar feeling with these haunting words: “I was no longer the captain of my own soul.”

The sinkhole syndrome truly depicts our spiritual vulnerability.

Today’s question: How have you countered the sinkhole syndrome in your life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The uncentered soul”

About the author

Dave Henning

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