I’m writing this while wearing a face-mask.
Not a ski-face-mask like something from a thriller movie. I’m wearing one of those peel-off charcoal mud masks that gets deep into your pores and pulls out gunk we’re amazed can exist on our beautiful faces. It’s minty, it has something called “purifying salts” mixed in, and it feels nice on my face.
I was one of those kids that put Elmer’s glue on my hands so I could peel it off when it dried, so I know that when this thing hardens in about twenty minutes, the joy of this mask will only heighten.
Let’s talk about Self-Care.
I hear about self care a lot. Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you probably have some concept of, what some people have deemed, “the self-help trend.” In 2018, Barnes and Noble released a report stating that, for the first time, more people have invested in books to improve mental health, than dieting and physical fitness.
Self-care is not a new term in the health-world. By definition, self-care is, “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s mental or physical health.”
Seems simple, right? Yet, the term brings on images of bubble baths, face masks, meditating, sipping herbal tea, and “minimal lifestyles”. People talk about self-care and statements like “I don’t have time for a bubble bath and I hate herbal tea!” and “I’m too busy. I can’t fit self-care into my life.” start to emerge. Questions such as, “Why is self-care such a big deal now?”, “Do I really need self-care?” and my favorite, “Is self-care even biblical? Aren’t we supposed to be others-centered?”
These are fair questions. In the always-cynical world we live in, what appears to be a luxury trend can be a bit suspicious. The overall question is, “Is self-care going to be of any value to me?”
Answer: Absolutely! If you’re doing it right.
Let’s first chat about whether or not self-care is biblical for Christians to practice. In order to find out if something is biblical, we need to look at the Bible.
The term “self-care” is not mentioned in the Bible. However, many principles of self-care are mentioned, encouraged and exemplified.
Starting in Genesis, we have the perfect example: “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.” (Genesis 2:2)
Friend, God didn’t need to rest. He is limitless. He doesn’t need sleep or to relax. Additionally, God could have created everything instantaneously. He could have formed mountains, oceans, plants, beasts, birds, fish, fowl and man all in a moment – but instead, He took His time. He assigned an order to when and at what time each element would be created, and at the end, He rested. Not because He needed to, but rather, because He was setting the perfect example for US.
We were created with limits. We were created with a need to rest and restore our minds and bodies. God could have created us to be limitless, able to run for weeks without rest. Yet instead, He created us to have a need for rest, and then lovingly set that example for us directly after creation week.
Self-care is giving yourself time to rest. Self-care is taking time to sleep, be still, and relax. Rest is necessary for our physical and mental health, and is absolutely necessary to our survival as God intended us to function.
Another form of self-care that doesn’t get enough credit: enjoying food.
If you’re reading this from any of the first-world countries, you can probably attest – we live in a very food-centered culture. Turn on your TV and there will be ads for dozens of restaurants within ten minutes. Along with that, there will be advertisements for different weight-loss programs to supplement our food-obsessions. Friend, I love food. I binge-watch the Food Network on Hulu and have easily over 500 food pins on my Pinterest board. Food is delicious and is a creative outlet that we get to EAT. However, I’ve noticed that many of us have an unhealthy relationship with food.
I’ll speak from a personal note for a moment – years ago when I was battling deep depression after the sudden loss of my twenty-two year old sister, I all but stopped eating. I didn’t want to care for my body anymore. I lived off of Monster Energy drinks and fig newton bars. I barely drank water. Every few days I’d snag a vitamin supplement to make up for the lack of sustenance I was offering my body, but as I’m sure you can imagine – this did little to save me from the slope I was sliding down. I had an incredibly unhealthy relationship with food, because I didn’t want to care for myself.
Food is amazing – God has given it to us to not only fill us physically, but also emotionally. They’ve found that certain foods like berries, citrus, and even some chocolates, spark endorphins when we consume them – making our brains more happy, as well as nourishing our bodies. Vegetables like Kale and Carrots have been shown to minimize our risks of cancer, legumes and beans help build our muscles, and don’t even get me started on the beauties of avocado.
God could have created us without the need for food. Or, He could have created food in its most minimal sense and just given us tasteless “nourishment bars” to keep us fueled. But instead, he created millions of different fruits, nuts, roots, beans, vegetables, meats, juices, herbs and spices for us to combine in billions of ways for our enjoyment. Again, going back to Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve that He created these foods for both physical and emotional enjoyment – (Genesis 1:29-30)
Friend, good food is absolutely a form of self-care because it is a gift straight from God to us.
For those who follow my Instagram page (@leadmetothecross.blog) you’ll know that I spent a day this week to talk about all the little blessings that we have in our lives to enjoy. God has filled the earth with beautiful things for us to look at – mysterious grey clouds against an ever-changing cerulean sky. Billions of flowers in different shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Billions of trees to sit under, grass to walk through, and trillions of animals to look at – each with unique characteristics and personalities. We have been given so many different landscapes on six different continents, all for us to visually enjoy. And then He also filled the earth with beautiful sounds to listen to – a baby’s giggle, the laugh of a family together, birds singing, an owl hooting, wind over the tree branches, an ocean wave crashing against a rock, the slap of a wave in the lake against the shore…the list can go on and on. Additionally, He’s given us so many people to meet and enjoy. Quirky people, smart people, wise people, funny people, creative people, strong people, loud people, quiet people — all with unique stories and perspectives. How often do I forget to enjoy all of these things because my mind is filled with the latest #hustle that I’m pursuing?
One of the most grounding forms of self-care that we can practice, is to simply notice and be mindful, of the blessings that God has given to us.
Finally, the greatest form of self-care that we can engage with:
Get alone with God.
Just you two. Just you and God. Quiet time. Spill even your smallest secrets to Him. Share your hurts with Him. Tell Him your fears. Ask Him your questions – see what He says.
Over and over throughout the ministry of Jesus, we read accounts of when Jesus took time alone to be with God. Luke 5:16 sums it up when it says “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Friend, Jesus was fully man and fully God. He knew how much He NEEDED that time to be alone with His father – if Jesus needed it, then I assure you, you need it too. You don’t have to climb a mountain to be alone with God (however, if you have the opportunity, do it because that’s cool and I’d love pictures) It’s simple. Talk to God while snagging a quick shower. Turn off your radio and talk to Him while you’re driving to work. Debrief your frustrations to Him on the way home after a long day. Set a timer for fifteen minutes after you get home, sit down on your bed with the door shut, and just be in His presence.
I assure you, my beloved friend, there is no greater form of self-care, than spending time with the One whom Holds the depth of the universe in His palms.
So – is self-care biblical? Is it effective? Is it necessary?
Yes! How could it not be, when God has given us so many vital ways to care for our needs?
To those who are always on the #hustle – working hard, paying bills and building your career – I see you. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. You need to be filled before you can pour anything more.
To those who have been given the special job of caring for others – whether your own children, sick patients, a parent, or any other care that God has given you – I see you. Remember, you also cannot pour from an empty cup. You need to be filled before you can pour more into the lives of those who need you.
To those who have been given the responsibility of leadership – in your job, in your family, in your ministry, or whatever else you’ve been given charge of – I see you. Remember, friend, you cannot pour from an empty cup. You need to be filled before you can lead anyone else.
To those who have been given the gift of teaching – in classrooms, from the pulpit, at your own kitchen table, writing a blog, leading a small group. I see you. You cannot pour from an empty cup. You need to be filled before you can pour more wisdom onto others.
Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exalts and with my song I give thanks to Him.”