Taking care of ourselves is often misunderstood, but God has so much for us in it. Considering what self care is, what it isn’t, and why we need it, is vitally important to cultivating a life well-lived as a Christian.
If you know any of my story, you know I gave and gave until I was beyond dry and depleted. After years of leading numerous ministries, running a non-profit, and home schooling, I had a year of quiet by stepping back from all of it until we moved to foster on a ranch and had up to twelve children in our home.
Me. The introvert who thought, “OK, my oldest son is 21 now, God. I’m ready for something quieter.” God’s response was, “Go. You’re leaving tomorrow.” And basically that’s what happened.
After what I refer to as an “intense season of serving,” I collapsed. I was showing signs of PTSD, depression, acute anxiety, and I was in the throes of deep grief and life changes.
Awareness of broken humanity became acute, requiring attention.
I needed a new way to live because I couldn’t do what I’d been doing. Thus began a very intentional pursuit of rest and taking care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Without realizing it, I was choosing to heal through choosing self-care.
Please know, my healing came about because I chose to do the hard work with God. I chose to trust what He was doing over what I wanted him to do.
Ultimately, He is our healer. He is the one who gives what we need and reminds us when we need it. He created our selves after his own image and he cares about how the state of of our whole selves (body, mind, heart & soul) even more than we do.
One of the most powerful things He showed me was that I had what I needed to courageously care for my own life. All believers have it because of the Holy Spirit with us. By learning to live from the Spirit and no longer from my flesh, I knew I could & would again pour out care for others.
Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending and participating in the Brave Women’s Conference in Austin, TX. Women from different churches, different cultures, different belief systems, and with different histories came together to be encouraged in their steps of living bravely. When I looked around, I saw a gathering of God’s precious beloveds facing their fears and choosing courage. It overwhelmed me with awe.
I also had the opportunity to speak to many of them in the living room session entitled, “Brave to Take Care of Yourself.” For a quick fifteen minutes, I shared some of my story and how God brought incredible healing over the last few years.
I ran out of time to share all I wanted to, like how each courageous step of speaking up for myself and setting boundaries was met by a faithful God, even though it was painfully hard and at times I thought he left to deal with on my own. Or about how activating my faith brought about incremental growth and freedom. And how God didn’t rescue me from painful circumstances, rather he led me through them and showed me my need to rely on Him continuously.
God strengthened me to say no to unnecessary & unhelpful things. He showed me I could say yes to the things which helped me become more of who he created me to be.
In order to do so, my heart needed to know I was worth the time and effort for self-care.
I am. So are you.
As I prepared for my short speech, it began to dawn on me why we tend to think of self-care as purely selfish.
Maybe it's because we don't believe in our self worth? Maybe we're too afraid God is going to think bad of us if we take time to care for ourselves? Maybe someone will judge us and tell us we are not worth it, and we'll believe them.
Ultimately, healthy self-care is tending to who we are as a whole person, designed to reflect a holy God.
He doesn't expect us to carry on in the weary battles of life without the tools we need to win. He gives them to us. We can courageously choose self-care by choosing to ask God what he really thinks and how he values us, as creations who reflect his image.
While God clearly states that we are not to put self above others and we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, we are also to think soberly. If we think with right judgment, we see God's value for who we are and how we live.
As Christians we sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. It is our calling and our responsibility. We are also created with limitations and if we choose to ignore them, we choose to ignore part of the very way God created us. To need him.
Self-care is about understanding the true value of who we are as God sees us. Self-care chooses to hold on to this value and explore ways to act on it. By choosing to rightly value who we are, and what God says we need, we choose to nurture the body, mind, and soul of ourselves as He designed us.
What self-care looks like for me:
- taking supplements for brain & body functioning
- exercising (though I need to implement this more)
- scheduling time with family, friends, neighbors, and new people
- leaving margin in my schedule for down time and life's upheavals
- intentionally pursuing times of quiet
- choosing to praise and worship God no matter how I'm feeling
- learning how to hear from God better and spending regular time through prayer and scripture reading
- exploring the areas of my heart & soul which need growth and health
- pursuing emotional health & spiritual growth together
- making choices in how I'm going to live rather than allowing others to choose for me
- being open to hearing perspectives from other people then holding them all in prayer before the giver of Truth
- being honest about how I'm feeling and opening up to God and safe individuals
- accepting where I need to change and receiving God's enabling to do so
What does this look like for you?
In what ways can you practice self-care in a way which honors God and honors his image in you?
God, would you show us today what it looks like to take care of ourselves in a way which honors you as our Creator? Would you show us what we need to step into or step back from in order to do that? We trust that you have what we need, even when we can't see it. We choose to allow you to speak to our hearts about who we are and how great you are. Amen.