A couple weeks ago I read an article by a popular author who admitted she was exhausted and burned out. She'd left no margin in her life and her family was paying the price. Her solution was to do a better job of taking care of herself and while there is nothing wrong with what she said, I've been thinking about her post ever since.
Specifically, how do we as Christians balance self-care with self-denial? It's a difficult balance, isn't it? Because we as believers are called to deny ourselves, daily take up our cross, and follow Christ. Following Christ means we will be poured out and used up (I'm reminded of Paul's words in II Tim 4:6). How do cultivate a mindset regarding self-care that doesn't contradict God's word?
That's what I've been pondering for the past couple weeks.
While I don't have all the answers, I've been encouraged viewing this topic through the lens of Scripture. My spirit has been refreshed at God's provisions for us, even as He calls us to deny ourselves. Here are six things God has given us as means of "self-care." Perhaps you need to revisit these as much as I do. Praise the Lord for His gracious gifts!
1. Rest. From the very beginning, God made the 7th day holy and set it apart as a day of rest. Jesus tells us the Sabbath was created FOR us. In other words, it's a blessing, not a duty or burden. It is a gift! I find it perplexing how we as believers tend to search and search for ways to get off the hamster wheel while simultaneously ignoring the gracious gift, provision, and command to remember the Sabbath. Hmm.
2. Fasting. This is another topic that makes folks antsy. (Yeah, I guess I'm getting all up in folk's business today but I promise I'm not trying to be a spiritual prick~ wink.) Sometimes we need a spiritual detox and fasting is one way of quickly doing just that. Fasting detoxes the body but it can also detox our souls and spirits. So much could be said on this topic but I'll leave a full discussion for another time :)
3. Stillness. Psalm 46:10 tells us to be still and know that God is God. Stillness is an essential practice for us to be reminded that God is the one in control, not us. Our activity and schedules tend to breed the thinking that the world needs us to fix it. Or at least to keep it running. Ha! Yes, we are to live on mission and be salt and light and take care of our families but HE is God, not us. I think He knows we need frequent reminders of that basic truth.
4. Considering. I love how Jesus told His followers to consider the birds and the flowers. He told them to spend time in nature and let the lessons there impact their theology. This is another practice that will de-stress and de-clutter the heart and mind. Try it and see!
5. Confession. Confessing sin isn't fun. It's uncomfortable at best and downright painful at worst. Yet it is cleansing and freeing. It also opens the door to experiencing God's forgiveness. This is another habit we all need!
6. Community. Living in one accord with others, sharing what we have, and caring for one another is all over scripture. As individuals we like our autonomy but we miss out on deep nourishment when we aren't aligned with a godly community that functions the way God intended.
More could be said about each of these, but I hope this gets you thinking about self-care God's way. Can you think of something else God has given us to take care of ourselves? Perhaps you (like me!) need to re-connect with one or more of these gifts this week and allow Him to minister to your soul. I'd love to hear how your week goes!
Until next time, be refreshed in Him.
P.S. We are running SUMMER SALES in our resource shop all month long! You will need a special code to get the discounts so don't miss the announcement Wednesday :)