I grew up in a very conservative Baptist Christian home.
Not going to say anything right or wrong about that.
But that being the case there are words that carry certain connotations.
Jean skirt- Any good baptist girl knows the value of wearing the really long suckers when youth group is playing soccer. #bestgoalieever
Three fingers – a standard for modesty. Your shirt must be three fingers below the collarbone, no lower. Your heels cannot be any taller than three fingers. #wellDadsfingersarealotbiggerthanmine
Greet one another – #thisisgoingtobeawkward
If you’ve been there you get it. If you haven’t you probably just don’t. Along with those words there was ingrained in me the desire to avoid seemingly trendy or worldly things. When I was presented with the idea of self care over and over I automatically shut it down because it seemed to be of the world. I even found an article on the gospel coalition website that seemed to confirm my suspicion that this idea is worldly and I tried to stay away from it. (Nothing against the author or the site itself, I actually go to that website frequently for biblical worldview questions.) However, the more I tried to avoid this idea the more I struggled being a Mom and a wife and all the things all the people in my life needed me to be. So I asked the wise world of Facebook for input and trusted friends, took some notes and set it aside for a long time.
I recently felt God was prompting me to finally write this post even though I don’t feel like I have it totally worked out yet. OK, actually to be honest, I have a few other reasons for not wanting to share this post.
Guilty because I need self care a lot. I had this picture of a strong, healthy Mama who every few weeks or so needed a quiet night of coffee and a bath and she was fine again for another few weeks. I am not that Mama. My husband never needs self care. He is totally fine to roll with life as it comes, completely satisfied in whatever the Lord is bringing to pass in his life and always seems to be just fine. Other Mamas in my life seem to never do this self care thing and they are fine while I’m weeping in my closet while the kids are trying to get my attention.
Embarrassment because I am learning to dance.
Yep, dance. I have fresh aching callus type things on my feet and ballet shoes in my closet because that is what my self care looks like right now. More on that later.
Can we just take a moment and call it like it is? Self care may be a trendy idea right now, or maybe it’s always been a thing and I’m just now hopping on the train.
It’s not self care. It’s stewardship.
Stewardship of our bodies and minds that we owe to the one who gave us life. Self care is not for me. It’s for God. That I might be a better servant to Him.
Our example, our ultimate example for all we do or attempt to do is Jesus Christ.
“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Luke 5:16
Some translations even say he would frequently get alone to pray. I used to look at verses like this one and allow it to convict my prayer life which it very well should. Don’t miss what else is in this verse. He would withdraw, slip away, retire and he would do so frequently. Why? The whole of Luke chapter five is our Lord healing multitudes, calling his disciples, answering questions. Jesus in his humanity and divinity understood that the more busyness the greater the need for stillness.
I think it’s also important to note what Jesus did when he had to get away. He didn’t get away to go on a Target run. (NOT a bad thing, I am in there all the time!) He got away to pray. This is part of what leads to the guilt. When my husband sends me out to Starbucks or to Barnes and Noble because I was at the end of my sanity there was in intense pressure to be refreshed, happy and totally fine again when I got home. I usually wasn’t. It was amazing to have a bit of quiet to be able to think in long coherent thoughts without interruption sure, but I still didn’t feel refreshed when I got home.
Self care should always lead us to our purpose.
If my goal is just to gratify my flesh, to make myself feel better or just to get away from the kids to have some time to myself then self care is leading me to a goal very far from my purpose in life. Satan wants me to have a pity party and oh boy hardy does he love it when we wallow right Mamas? Wallowing has us right where he wants us. That’s right where I was. I would walk around Target thinking about how difficult my life was, how much I was struggling with my health and balancing work and home. Every single time I would get calls or texts from a caseworker with some kind of drama and nothing sends me a’ wallowing faster than bad news from caseworkers. Feel me foster Mamas? Bottom line. Self care should cause us to look to the one who gave us our selves to take care of.
Are there some characters in the Bible that you sometimes wonder why God included them, or why he didn’t leave out certain ugly parts of their stories? For me it’s Elijah and David. I love how David writes in the Psalms. The laments, the tears, the sleepless nights, the agony over wickedness he expresses. My heart cries out with him! What does self care look like for David? Music. Most of his songs start with the outcries of his soul and then suddenly a turning point. God’s grace suddenly allows him to see his greatness and his passionate pleas turn to praise.
Elijah. This little story in the middle of all the chaos with the kings both wicked and good.
“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.” (1 Kings 19:1-8)
Elijah is just like me exhausted and probably hangry. Every time I read the story I expect the angel to throw the cake at his head and say something like “Here, eat this and get it together buddy.” God knows our frame. He knows that we have human weaknesses. He knows that postpartum hormones are a very real thing, he knows that lack of food and sleep are real problems, he knows that emotional upheaval is a human struggle. He has compassion on us in our weaknesses, for he as our great high priest has experienced them too.
So what does self care look like for a Christian?
- It is not self focused. It is not self care. It’s stewardship.
- It leads us to our purpose.
That’s why I have ballet shoes in my closet. I dance for my soul to music that points my heart and soul to Christ. I dance to take care of my physical muscles and the temple God has given me. I dance as a form of praise and worship to our God. It leads me to my purpose as a servant and steward for God.