Self-care may seem like something that is an unneeded or frivolous thing to add to our already busy days, but self-care shouldn’t be something we neglect for the sake of others or seen as a reward we grant ourselves for a job well done. It should be a necessary, daily responsibility, and we should pass it on to our children as a God-given, and Christ-like need! Yes, even Christ demonstrated self-care. When He was tired, He slept. When He was hungry, He ate. When He was heartbroken, He wept. Jesus also withdraws from people multiple times to pray, spend time alone, rest, or spend time with His closest friends. Even Jesus needed to take care of Himself!
Here are 3 reminders and ideas for self-care:
First, be kind to yourself and to others. Matthew 7:12 says, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” Many of us have learned to bully ourselves. Although your thoughts are kept silent from others, they have a megaphone effect on your hearts Be kind with your words when thinking about yourself. For years I had comments in my own head from events in my past. In fact, there are still times when I feel “second best” or “runner up,” and when I notice that I am bullying myself, I have to take a step back and ask, “If my best friend, my spouse, or my child were in this same situation, how would I treat them?” Now treat yourself with that same kindness. We face so many difficult choices every day, and we are judged for those choices. However, as Christian sisters, passing judgment on others for their choices can be devastating. I remember the words from Christian women to my mother over things a preacher’s family “should” or “shouldn’t” do. I remember the words from working Christian women to me as we chose to stay at home, and I remember the words from homeschooling mothers to me over our choice for public school, and then the words from public school mothers to me over our choice to homeschool. It’s time to stop. It’s time for us to be supportive and understanding of each other’s choices and decisions. How we feel about ourselves depends on it. Our self-esteem affects our feelings towards ourselves; it affects our relationship with the church, our outreach to the lost, and the strength of our homes. Learning to be kind to yourself can vastly improve your self-esteem, which can greatly improve all other areas of your life as well.
Second, don’t forget those friends– keep your real-life friends! It seems like in the spring of every year I get a strong need and desire to be around my Christian friends, and thankfully, church camp season fills that need. It should be just like the song says, “make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold”. Sometimes we just need to vent– to share our heart and to talk to other women. Be picky which friends you choose though. Be with balcony people, not basement people. Choose to be with those who lift you up, not pull you down. We were never meant to fly solo all the time. Technology allows us the ease of keeping in touch, but someone still must reach out first! A phone call or better yet, a face to face conversation with a friend is vital.
Third, and probably my favorite Biblical reminder to take care of myself, is found in the Old Testament with the great prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah had just finished his great victory against the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel and stood up to King Ahab when he got the message from Jezebel that she was going to kill him (I Kings 19:2)! Elijah ran for his life and found himself worn out, depressed, and sitting alone. He needed a nap, a snack, and a talk with God to get it straightened out. We must never minimize the need for proper rest, nutrition, and time with God– time in prayer and time in His word. That time can reset our minds and help us face the world again.