As I write this, I’m recovering from a battle with Pneumonia. For some reason, my body didn’t respond to the first round of treatment, which has really prolonged my recovery. I’ve had three chest X-rays, a CT scan, 13 tubes of blood drawn (I have a very thorough doctor), and I’m on a 4th prescription that finally seems to be doing the trick. Today is the first day in 2 weeks I haven’t had a high fever and feel like I can actually function. I don’t tell you all of this to draw attention to my circumstances, I know many of you are going through far worse. I mention them because this illness motivated me to reevaluate a few things, specifically when it comes to self-care.
As moms, we often don’t have time for self-care. As Christian moms, we can even feel guilty or indulgent when we try to make time for ourselves. Our culture promotes self-care and defines it as me-time, retail therapy, and time at the spa as a means to regenerate. I find myself swinging on the pendulum between rejecting that idea and jumping all in. I should be depending on the power of the Holy Spirit to go beyond my natural capabilities and energy level. I should be going to Jesus when I need rest. I should care more about my inner beauty than my outer appearance. On the other hand, I really could use some time by myself, a pedicure sounds lovely, and canceling last week’s hair color appointment because of Pneumonia has left me with unbearable roots.
So let’s dig into this issue a bit and see if we can land in truth.
1. Self-care isn’t selfish:
God has created us with physical limitations. We get hungry, tired, and sick. We need to rest. We need to refresh. We need to stay healthy. Taking a break isn’t just a biblical concept, it’s a commandment. Taking care of yourself is a responsibility, not a luxury we need to sneak or feel guilty about.
2. Self-care and excessive self-indulgence are not the same things:
While excessive self-indulgence is our culture’s answer, ignoring your physical needs or your physical appearance is neither the proper nor biblical alternative. So where’s the line? I don’t know that there one, like 1 pedicure per month is self-care and 3 is indulgent? It’s different for all of us, but when “self-care” becomes an idol or a way to escape reality, I think that’s where we need to be very careful. We also need to be careful that we’re not neglecting the physical or our outer appearance in the name of “spirituality.”
3. Self-care cannot replace soul care:
Often, soul issues can manifest in physical symptoms. Chronic anger, according to the NY Times, is “so damaging to the body that it ranks with or even exceeds cigarette smoking, obesity, and a high-fat diet as a powerful risk factor for early death.” A deep anger issue cannot be worked out or burned off at the gym. True peace cannot be found at the spa or on a nature walk. True balance cannot be found at a yoga class. Using self-care to treat soul issues is tempting, but ultimately, the root problem will not be treated.
4. Self-care and soul care are not mutually exclusive:
Soul care is vital and should be our top priority. But good grief, one can depend on the power of the Holy Spirit and still take a nap, grab a coffee with friends, or get a pedicure!
How can you structure some time to physically refresh into your week?
Is there a deeper issue you’re trying to treat with self-care?
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