Anyone who has ever been labeled a caregiver has heard the term “self-care.” I suppose most moms have heard that word, even labeled themselves as such. I’ve had some seasons of caregiving that have been difficult, and I always read about the importance of self-care. Whether you love a child from a hard place, someone with an addiction, someone who is medically needy, or just have a very demanding life, your health and well-being is super important, because you can only offer from what you have.
Here’s the thing about self-care, though. When self-care becomes too self-focused, it’s not doing me any good. Ultimately, there is still a level of performance involved in it and a whole lot of self-indulgance. I’ve read any number of self-care articles… there are loads of great tips but they’re missing the big picture. As a Christ-follower, I have a much more holistic approach to this whole self-care scene.
You see, my spiritual well-being needs to be the first thing I seek. That’s the headwaters. Everything flows from there. I say this with certainty because I spent years serving and loving without refueling and it left me depressed and burnt out. How can I serve and love when I am empty? Being positive and upbeat works for so long until you’re just plain done.
The beautiful, complicated, hard truth of following Jesus is that the more you follow and are filled, the more you are asked to pour out. And here’s the crazy thing…when you’re in a close walk Him, even when it’s hard, it’s good. Not because there is no sacrifice, not because it never hurts, but because being in step with Him is so filling. It doesn’t make much sense but the ultimate acts of self-care turn out to be acts of self-denial.
Self-care teaches me to seek myself and my own pleasures. Jesus tells me to seek Himself, and promises that He will offer me true rest. Of course I read to relax, of course I know that taking long walks is therapeutic. Listening to good music, having some coffee, savoring some chocolate-all of the yes. But those things only go so far. Ultimately, my deepest satisfaction comes from knowing God. Jonathan Edwards has said, “the most pleasant accommodations . . . fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the Sun.”
Kids find the chocolate stash, the husband makes the last of the coffee and doesn’t mention it, it’s too rainy to walk outside, and none of the music can scratch that itch…but one timely word from the Word can change the trajectory of the day, the week, the season. I hope this encourages you to take some time to be with Jesus today. He’s all that satisfies.