Christian Self-Care in 2020
I AM BACK! Whew, I was gone for quite some time, but you know what, as talkative as I am, I’ve learned to simply practice silence in certain seasons in order to observe, listen and absorb. So self-care blew all the way up in 2019, and as I sat in silence, observing, listening and absorbing, I noticed my Christian sisters calling every and any little thing self-care. Ice cream? Self-care; glass of wine on Friday to close out the week? Self-care; pedicure? You guessed it, self-care! Now, of course we women should maintain our personal standards of appearance and unwinding, but for me the self-care narrative for Christian women lacked an essential components: THE HOLY SPIRIT and ACTUAL CARE!
Now, let’s get the first thing out the way, nobody is saying God doesn’t want you to rest and relax. His word commands we observe the Sabbath and rest, burnout is a real problem for preachers, doctors, stay-at-home parents, and those in customer service alike, exhaustion, listlessness, ambivalence, emotional overwhelm, spiritual despair, it can happen at any income level.
Did our Savior practice self-care? Jesus kept the Sabbath, Jesus did good on the Sabbath, Jesus withdrew from large crowds to be alone and PRAY (Luke 5:16). If we look at the example of Jesus, He served others and spent time with the Father in prayer. The self-care movement (as distorted by social media) says that you have everything in you to heal yourself and achieve rest. But in Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Beloved, there is no way you are effectively practicing the exchanging of yokes or rest by getting a pedicure and drinking a glass of wine. The pedicure will make your feet feel better and your toes look nice, the wine will relax your inhibitions but none of that is “rest for your soul,” from the physically and emotionally draining experience that is life. This is especially true if you’re in a high stakes job where people’s lives are in your exhausted hands or you’re experience emotional overwhelm.
My other discrepancy is that cutesier “spend money” self-care ideas are arising and too many of us are neglecting our actual mental, psychical and spiritual health. You want to constantly vent to your friends about your childhood and the issues you have with your parents but have not even begun to look into therapist rates, and have not attempted fasting and praying for true deliverance from that yoke of bondage; deluded. You treat yourself to a nice dinner and a new hair-do about $150 minimum (if you can even get your hair done that cheaply anymore), but haven’t had your pap smear, mammogram, don’t know your blood pressure, sugar levels or cholesterol; deluded. You want to burn sage and use yoni products but daily consume the unhealthiest of foods and lead a sedentary lifestyle and think you’re warding off “negative energy;” deluded, sis you are the “negative energy.” You haven’t made a debt payment in months or attempted to negotiate with debtors and are allowing interest to accrue worsening your credit score, but you’re at every event and constantly complaining about how your dreams are stifled and it seems everyone is doing better than you; deluded. These are just a FEW of the examples I have seen across social media, if your self-care is not actually improving the quality of your life, thoughts and network, are you really doing anything? If you’re not actually alleviating your financial, physical and mental stress, just moving it around how exactly is that self-care?
None of us can satisfy our need for fulfillment, purpose, replenishment and connection with superficial expenditures. It's merely chipping at a wall with a hammer instead of a bulldozer. The bulldozer is a collection of actual lifestyle changes that will yield fruit, and this change begins with spending quality AND quantity time with God and listening to the Holy Spirit. Our self-care routines should not exclude God, rather, they must begin with Him, what we need isn’t deep within ourselves, it’s within God, it’s within change. And we must never ever lose hold of this FACT!
Rest and prioritization of time begins with coming to Jesus, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light(Matt 11:28-30).” Does this mean you shouldn’t take all of your PTO, of course not, but allow yourself to submit your anxieties, fears, exhaustion as honest as you know how to God the Father. He created you to do go works, He created you for a purpose and part of that purpose is a purposeful profession, so before you spend another dime, pray on if your job is your purpose, if should you be collecting skillsets and preparing to take a leap of faith into a life of purpose, where your job adds value to others. We have to trust God for His peace to stabilize us and refuse to allow our thoughts and lifestyles to run off with us away from Phil 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Beloved, God’s goal for us is Himself, and that should be our goal for ourselves. Surround yourself with His truth, His truth about why He created you, His promises of peace, His truth that the battles are spiritual, His truths about money and time management, and listen for the voice of His Holy Spirit to guide you. Remember beloved, this Bible tells us to rest, it commands we keep the Sabbath and use it to rest and do good. So in addition to that, yes you can get your pedicure, yes you can get your massage, and while you’re getting those let the gratitude to God ring forth from your heart, and pray that while in those moments of respite He would clarify and organize your thinking and your steps. Shift your entire thinking, go for that long nature walk, and during it let yourself be in awe of how nature testifies of God’s amazingness. Ask God to reveal the foundation of your exhaustion, your nonchalance toward your job and show you the way forward.
Pray for a network of prayer warriors and true believers whose lives have ripened fruit of the Holy Spirit and help you see the foundation of an issue rather than the tip of the iceberg. Take care of yourself by actually taking care of yourself, go get your annual work-up, stop putting foolishness in your body and calling it good, discontinue start-stopping everything you’re passionate about, get a hobby, increase your skill-set, but do it all for the glory and honor of God that you are caring for His temple and properly stewarding the time and resources He has allowed you. Nothing wrong with making yourself feel special, you actually really are, but don’t allow yourself to become deluded into thinking you’re working the problem, when you’re only distracting yourself from it.
True Christian self-care does not start with the self, it starts with obedience to God. If you find yourself struggling, ask yourself "What was the last thing God told me to do? Did I do it thoroughly?" Beloved, form your habits of care in Christ, allow God’s word to penetrate Your daily living, pray like you’ve never prayed before and live daily like tomorrow morning you’ll stand before Christ to give an answer. Remember the valley of dry bones, they began to live because Ezekiel spoke the words in God, he prophesied in God, and every dry bone in your life can live, in God. Let everything, even the hard stuff be done in God for God (Colossians 3:3).
CALL TO ACTION: In your time of meditation, quietness, journaling write down the what, why, and who and what now?
--> What is stressing you out/causing anxiety, disrupting your peace of mind?
--> The core of why this is a stressor and why it has gotten to an overwhelming point?
--> Whose problem is it to solve? Is there anything you can do today/tomorrow to catalyze change or is it God's problem to solve? If it's yours take prayer then action, if it's God's take fasting, repentance, prayer and faith. Dig in the scriptures and make sure you're not waiting for God to do what He has given you authority to do (ex. reallocating your time).
--> What now? What are the lifestyle and prayer-style changes that you need to make and honor daily?
3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
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P.P.S. I have a great resource coming for your guys THIS MONTH on the website and it is so exciting, it is truly going to help you take stock of your relationship with God and fire up your prayer life.