Today’s post was written by a worship leader at the Church I serve, Hannah Newkirk. She also works as a school administrator, small group leader, and conference speaker along with being a wife and mother of three girls.
Raise your hand if you have heard the word “self-care.” (Well, you don’t have to raise your hand physically. This is a blog post after all, so depending on where you are reading right now, that might make things a little awkward.)
I typed “self-care” into my Google search bar, and there were over 3-BILLION results in .75 seconds. Self-care is a hot topic right now around the world.
A definition of Self-Care that I found over on Psych Central’s website is this:
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.
Now…do any of those things sound BAD?
Is it a bad thing to take care of our mental state? No.
Is it a bad thing to take care of our emotional state? No.
Is it a bad thing to take care of our physical state? No.
But I would argue that there’s an essential piece missing from this definition: Spiritual Health.
You see, when we leave a relationship with Jesus out of the equation, self-care can quickly become self-centeredness. When we leave fellowship with other believers out of the equation, self-care can quickly become isolation.
So what can we do to make sure we are caring for ourselves in a way that will keep us healthy enough in all aspects to pour into others?
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Images of other people’s families are available to us at all hours of the day and night. Just open your phone or web browser, and you can get a glimpse into the lives of your friends and family. Please remember, this is a highlight reel. Most people are choosing the high points of their day to feature on their social media pages.
What elements are often missing from these posts? Big piles of laundry on the couch, dishes filling the sink, piles of shoes by the front door, sibling arguments, and difficult parenting moments.
In the book Love Your Life, Not Theirs, Rachel Cruze says, “There is no room for discontentment in a heart filled with gratitude,” which leads us into our next idea.
In his book The Mood Elevator, Larry Senn says that “we all ride the mood elevator up and down every day. How well we do it impacts our relationships…and our experience of life.” Senn completed a research study and ranked the wide range of emotions and feelings, according to the effect they would have on a person’s mood.
At the bottom of the “mood elevator” would be the emotions or feelings that put us in the worst mood. The lowest three are depression, anger, and stress.
At the top of the “mood elevator” would be the emotions or feelings that put us in the best mood. When I first read this study, I really thought “joy” or “happiness” would be at the top of the elevator. However, sitting at the very tip-top of the mood elevator is gratitude.
A few months ago, Brother Matthew (the author of this blog), said, “We need to anchor our lives in a position of gratitude.”
When we are counting our blessings, it is often hard to find something to complain or worry about. Taking time to identify what we have to be thankful for every single day is a critical piece of self-care.
Put the phone down. Turn the TV off. Make time for one-on-one time with your husband or wife. Enjoy silly little moments with your family. Eat supper at the table. Sit on the front porch and just breathe in the air around you. Look people in the eye. Have a conversation. Be vulnerable.
Finally, Serve others well.
I think this is where the balancing piece comes in. Society has led us to believe that self-care involves pulling away from others to “take care of yourself,” but the Bible teaches us about all kinds of people who served well.
To serve well, we have to be intentional in what we are choosing to be involved in. Serving well doesn’t mean we have to be all things to all people. When you are serving well, you’ll be energized and not exhausted. So choose wisely. Sometimes this means saying “no” to things that don’t line up with your gifts, your schedule, or your passions. And that’s okay.
Yes, let’s take care of ourselves…mentally, emotionally, and physically. But let’s not forget that the real source of joy & peace is Jesus.
As we go into a new year, let’s also make sure that our self-care program keeps HIM at the center.