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“Self care in selfish!”
“You just need more of Jesus and less of yourself.”
Here’s my favorite on
“Self love is the religion of the Godless.”
Let’s all roll our eyes together now!
As a new mom who spent an entire year of my sons life battling postpartum depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and some crippling negativity towards myself, I can’t STAND it when people say things like that! It is easy for someone who hasn’t personally experienced real mental health issues to speak negatively towards self care. But for those who have suffered the real pain of your mind battling with yourself you know what I feel.
You know that your choices are either self care or self deprecation.
You know full and well that sweet catch phrases and ill thought out motivational speeches just won’t help.
I remember when the term “self care” began to float around the internet. Almost immediately I heard so many people pipe up almost immediately with their two cents. I began to hear people say things like what I said above, and even worse. It didn’t hit me how much those words bothered me until I battled postpartum depression. I realized very quickly that there is only one word in “self care” that bothers Christians.
Christians are drowning in overwhelm!
I didn’t exactly grow up in church. In fact, I didn’t start regularly attending church until I was 14. I was wonderfully saved after a friend of mine invited me to her youth group, and I’ve never looked back! Shortly afterwords, I started hearing a phrase being mentioned by ministers in my church, as well as other churches.
“A Spirit of Excellence”
That simply meant that if you were a Christian, you should strive to be excellent at whatever you set your heart to do. The terminology originates in Daniel, when it was said that he had an excellent spirit because he was knowledgeable, wise, and he had the ability to interpret dreams (Daniel 5:12).
I do believe that Christians should strive to be excellent at whatever they put their mind to, but here’s the thing. Is it you that makes you excellent, or is it Christ in you that makes you excellent?
There are so many Christians out there who are burning the candle at both ends because they are striving for excellence. What’s actually happening is that eventually they’re going to burn out because they’re thinking that it’s all on them! What a dangerous path to walk!
Here’s the official definition of self care:
the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.
I don’t see ANYTHING selfish about that official definition! If anything, it sounds pretty practical to me!
Do you want to continue to burn the candle at both ends in the name of excellence, or do you want an excellent God to give you rest?
I can probably guess from the bags under your eyes and the 9th cup of coffee in your hands that you’re leaning towards the rest part.
Self Care isn’t selfish because God himself did it!
Imagine you are God himself. You’re creating the heavens and the earth as He depicts in Genesis 1. He’s creating the beast of the field and the foul of the air, all the water, stars, and even people. This was 6 whole days of hard work.
If God were American, He would say, “on the 7th day I said, hustle hustle baby! Put some sweat equity in it!”
What did He actually do?
He did absolutely nothing.
If God himself valued the power of rest, why don’t we?
In early Jewish culture, the Sabbath was deeply valued time! They were not allowed to do ANYTHING! No work, no plans, no parties, NOTHING! The Sabbath was all about one thing; giving your time to God! He laid out this beautiful framework of rest for us to abide by because God knew that humans were busy people. God knew from experience that life is full of work, so He showed us how to take a break!
Instead, we nowadays look at the Sabbath as the day we all go to church. But think about it…do we REALLY rest on church days?
Sure, we rest in the Lord and in His presence. But is the rest of it really “restful?” I highly doubt that the madness of cooking breakfast at lightning speed, dressing restless children in their Sunday best, slapping together an alright outfit, putting makeup on in the car, and feeding your kids endless Cheerio’s during service is really “restful.”
This is why I believe that there is WAY more to the Sabbath than just going to church. It’s about finding literal rest, so that you actually have the energy to rest in the Lord.
I think it’s about time we started having a “Sabbath” of sorts ourselves.
Self Care isn’t selfish, pushing ourselves to the limit is!
Earlier I talked about having a spirit of excellence. I stated that I DO believe Christians should be excellent at all they do. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the most successful people in the world were God fearing people? How amazing would it be if the most powerful people in the world were people who loved Jesus?
It would be amazing…if they used their excellence to glorify God!
There are ravingly famous people out there who win tons of awards and thank God for them. But are they REALLY giving it all to Jesus? I don’t know their heart, maybe they are, but sometimes I wonder if the constant striving for fame and fortune is for God or for themselves.
You’re probably not ravingly famous, but you’re striving for something excellent. You want to be an amazing mom, a successful career woman, an excellent wife, a great friend, a servant of the Lord, and you probably want to be a decent cook while you’re at it. But all that striving and pushing isn’t pushing you to Jesus, it’s pushing you over the edge!
At the end of the day, who are you really trying to impress? Jesus or yourself?
News flash! Jesus already thinks you’re excellent! You don’t have to try to impress Him! He ALREADY think’s you’re doing an amazing job! Maybe right now Jesus is trying to tell you to slow the heck down and smell the roses for a minute!
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" - Matthew 11:28-30
When we are constantly pushing ourselves and never slow down, we cause overwhelm and burnout. That is NOT a mindset that God wants us to dwell in! God wants us to live in REST!
Related reading: One Amazing Strategy to Calm and Control Anxiety
Self Care isn’t selfish, self hatred is!
Selfishness is simply thinking about yourself more than others. We think of selfishness as the people who buy all the bread and milk when a snow storm is coming, or when people won’t give some spare change to the homeless person in the park. But selfishness can be a sneaky trait.
Think about it…you’re SO exhausted! You just had a super long day at work, your kid whined and cried the entire way home, you forgot to turn the crock pot on so dinner is ruined, everyone in the house is mad. Children are crying. Bedtime routines are out of whack. The whole afternoon just goes to shambles!
What’s the first thing that crosses your mind after an afternoon like that?
Probably something along the lines of, “if I were a better mom, that wouldn’t have happened!” Or maybe something like, “if I’d just get it together and be more organized, maybe I’d have a smoother afternoon!”
You immediately hate on yourself! You turn a cruddy evening into and even cruddier evening by thinking solely about how cruddy of a human being you are! In that moment you just thought more about yourself than the other people in your house.
Your husband probably wasn’t that mad about you forgetting to turn the crock pot on. Your kids are definitely NOT mad about getting takeout for the fourth time that week. Kids whine and cry on the way home because they know YOU are their safe place! Bedtime routines don’t make or break your kids. At the end of the day, they’re just glad to have an evening with mom!
Now replay that cruddy evening, but instead of spending the rest of the night hating on yourself, you decide to read a book instead, or take a nice long bath, or enjoy a nice cup of tea. You take that time and reframe your day. It no longer becomes about how bad you are, but about the blessings in your life.
Now you tell me…which one of those scenario’s sounds more selfish?
Self Care isn’t selfish, so take care of yourself!
The last thing God wants you to do is get burned out on this beautiful life God has made for you. He doesn’t want to see you burning the candle at both ends in the name of excellence. God doesn’t desire for you to live a life so overwhelmed that you end up hating yourself for reasons that aren’t even your fault!
God himself gave you the framework of self care, He just called it something different. If God himself took a break, by golly so can you!
One more thing…in the early Jewish days when they celebrated the Sabbath, there was one thing they had to do. Go to the temple. They HAD to make God a priority on their day of rest.
What a beautiful picture of Biblical self care. It’s all about giving yourself the time to decompress and relax so that you actually have the mental capacity to receive something and do something for the Lord!
Don’t let overworked and grumpy Christians tell you that you’re selfish for wanting to just drink some coffee in peace and quiet for a few minutes! Jesus himself is gonna enjoy that cup of joe with you, because you have given yourself the mental break you need to notice him.
Do you need help find quick, effective self care? Check out my post “5 Minute Self Care for the Christian Woman”