Ladies, does the term self-care sound like an oxymoron to you? As women, moms, caregivers, leaders, and Christians, the idea of self-care almost seems ridiculous. Even as the words self-care roll off my tongue, I have feelings of guilt! Who has time for that? How selfish of us to put ourselves first! Unfortunately, what many of us fail to understand or acknowledge is that self-care is very much different from those other “dirty words”, selfishness and self-centeredness. What we fail to recognize is that self-care glorifies the Lord!
Self-care almost seems to defy the principal of serving others and making sacrifices. How do we serve others while practicing self-care?
In her latest Blog, Leslie states “I am seeing that I need to, as they say in the airplane safety drills, “put on my own oxygen mask first”. She is referencing the principle of self-care; the oxygen mask is self-care.
God graciously created me with a lot of empathy. I mean a lot! At times to a fault. I feel the pain and sorrow others experience in my core! Solving people’s problems, coaching, empowering, edifying and building others up is what ignites my soul and spirit. The problem was I just kept going, and giving, going and giving, going and giving. Never setting boundaries, never saying “no”, never finding time for rest, neglecting my loved ones and time with the Lord, losing sleep, and ultimately not doing any of these things with excellence. For many years I had the false belief that the act of busyness was important. It made ME feel important, valuable, and worthy. My self-worth was based upon performance and my identity was in what others thought of me, the ministries I was involved in, the positions I held, and the enormous number of tasks I thought I could juggle. I made an idol of busyness and it eventually sucked everything right out of me and I mean everything! It took almost two years for me to feel refreshed and ready to get back up again, only this time I was armed with truth, the truth of who I am in Christ and the importance of self-care. I put on my oxygen-mask! My lack of self-care was the very thing that brought me down!
In order to understand what self-care means, let us first fully understand what it is not. Self-care is not self-centeredness. The term self-centeredness is defined as having concern for yourself before others. A self-centered person is a selfish person wherein they are excessively concerned with only themselves and meeting their own needs.
Self-care is not the “it’s all about me” movement, or the “I come first” attitude. Self-care is about making healthy choices with our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It is difficult to serve God and others if we are neglecting our own heart, soul, mind, and body. Self-care is simply maintaining these areas of self in order to serve others all for the glory of God.
What does it mean to practice self-care and how can it possibly glorify God?
When Jesus was asked what the greatest of the commandments were, Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Could it be that Jesus is commanding us to self-care in these areas? God wants us to take care of ourselves so we can effectively meet the needs of someone else (oxygen mask). How can God use us if we are completely overwhelmed, stressed out, tired, weary, or busy with busyness? In order for us to become the best versions of ourselves we need to take care of ourselves.
We need to practice self-care of the vessel because... “Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own”. (1 Corin 6:19). I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
Since our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the application of self-care may look like this:
For our physical needs self-care comes in the form of how and what we eat. Living a healthy life-style including some kind of exercise and getting enough sleep. We need to keep the vessel in good condition.
When it comes to the mind, self-care is extremely important. Our thoughts, emotions, and feelings are the motherboard of our hearts. If we are harboring unforgiveness and meditating on the negatives, with complaining and murmuring, we risk developing a heart condition. What we put into our minds, will eventually come out of our hearts and mouths.
Spiritual self-care is by far the most important one for me. When I am lacking in my quiet time with God, I easily become distracted and can almost feel myself reverting to the “old’ me. It bleeds through my speech, my actions, my patience, my words, and has a huge impact on my overall character. Prayer, Bible study, and devotional time all provide renewal. We know it is important because Jesus himself spent much time in prayer, quoting scripture and time alone.
Let’s dig deeper with scripture pertaining to S.E.L.F. C.A.R.E.
S: Start with Scripture
Joshua 1:8 instructs us “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
E: Eat healthy: Eating a balanced diet and indulging in moderation keeps us full of energy.
“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
L: Letting go: Letting go of worries, hurts, wrongs and trusting that God will meet all your needs.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
F: Focus: Too often we focus on what others will think of us, how we were wronged, or hurt. We have high regard for the opinions of others.
Phil 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Psalm 19:14: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
C: Confess. Confessing sins daily to experience healing.
James 5:16: Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
A: Attitude. The Bible has a lot to say about our attitudes. Attitudes are an important part of self-care because our attitudes affect our minds and our minds affect our hearts, it is the makeup of our character.
Philippians 2:14: Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
Romans 12:2: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
R: Rest, Relaxation and Sleep. I had to intentionally learn this one and do it on purpose. Without this you will risk burn out just like I did.
Mark 6:31: And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Exodus 23:12: “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.
Psalm 127:2: It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death; for God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest..
E: Enjoyment: God wants us to enjoy life, have fun, and enjoy laughter. If we are too busy with busyness we miss out on these amazing blessings.
Ecclesiastes 3:13: Also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.
Proverbs 17:22: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Psalm 118:24: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Ladies, self-care is a necessity, it is not a dirty word or selfishness. We become better versions of ourselves when we practice self-care.
What is one thing you can start implementing today that will help you with your goals of practicing self-care?
I’ve provided a SMART Goal worksheet to empower you. YOU CAN GRAB IT HERE. SMART is an acronym for a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Give it a try, be specific when writing out your goal. For example, you may have set a small goal of walking for 15-minute intervals. When writing out your goal be very specific “I will walk 15-minute intervals 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday”.
Let us know by sharing and posting your thoughts, struggles, and successes with self-care. Your story may just be the story another sister needs to hear today!