Back when it was just God, Adam, and Eve…
…before the happy couple decided to indulge in the lust of their flesh, allowing their eyes to be enticed and blinded by the slithering serpent at the notion that they could be more than who they were already created to be…
…there was pure, unadulterated, beautiful, honest, intimate fellowship between God and His creation. Then sin, devastating, abominable, and straight from the pits of hell, entered the world. A burden now placed on mankind would be more than anyone could bear. Man would labor with his hands, and woman would labor in childbirth.
And so, sin’s weights and life’s worries continually bear down upon us day after day. As a result, our world is obsessed with self-care. We love it so much that we literally hunt for ways to counterfeit hard work, pamper ourselves, and take away this curse! However, as faith-filled women who understand that the Christian life does not equal a life of ease, but rather is a battle, we still need to take time for some self-care. We must put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others and fighting the good fight of faith!
To quote many wise women who have gone on before us, “Take care of yourself so that you can take care of those you love.” But the Christian woman’s version of taking care of herself won’t look the same as it does to the world. Self-care cannot be a feeding time for our lusts or allowing ourselves to indulge in darkness. I know what you’re thinking… a nice Caramel Macchiato and pedicure would be so nice right now. I’m not writing this to make us feel guilty about our little indulgences, but rather to encourage us to make time for self-care that actually transforms us and enables us to live our best life for the Lord. Here are two things to consider…
Maintaining Our Walk with God
Our lives would resemble a hill of collapsible beans if it weren’t for the indwelling Holy Spirit Who gives clarity and confidence in our daily walk! We assure ourselves a good foundation that will hold us up during the uncertain, anxious days that ebb and flow throughout the seasons of life when we make our walk with God a priority.
Our daily time with God is the mother of all self-care. Well, it can be, if we are grounded in a few major components. This time with God is a relationship, not a responsibility. Our Father has plans for us that far surpass our own good desires for our life (Jer. 29:11), and it is during this time that we discover those plans. This time with God is how we transform our minds and overcome the pressures of this world (Rom. 12). Could we claim our devotional life to be a responsibility, a duty, or a debt we owe? Absolutely, for we are utterly dependent on God for our very life! Yet, the Lord always intended, since creation, to have a relationship with us and thereby accomplish something specific and special through us.
The past few articles in the Mommy Musings column touch on this topic – like, how walking with God gives us rest and that it is rooted in humility. Essentially, this topic of self-care is a continuation of those same thoughts. Want to feel rested deep down in your soul? Want to know that your efforts are not in vain? Want to walk away from your devotions armored up and prepared for the battle ahead? Then we must come our Heavenly Father with the same spirit of submission Jesus did when He walked this earth (Phil. 2). Our devotions, as we often call it, ought to be us coming under the yoke of the meek and lowly Jesus and partnering with Him for the day (Matt. 11). Walking with God means submitting to the Spirit of God.
However, we must beware: Bible reading and prayer, just like every good work, can be done in the flesh and appeal only to our pride. So, we must be mindful that this time is spent under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Asking God to reveal the sin in our hearts, asking the Lord what He desires to teach us from His Word, asking who and what we ought to bring to Him in prayer, presenting our to-do list and asking God what should stay and what should go, asking, asking, asking… By asking we are implying that we intend to submit to the direction He gives. And submission to God’s will means letting go of our own desires for the day and our shallow understanding of life’s circumstances.
So much more can be said about walking in the Spirit, but I’ll conclude with this thought: we can treat our time with God as a means to an end (which inevitably will fail and confuse us), or we can make it a time where we are refreshed, excited, and confident about what God will do through us! This is the ultimate self-care.
Maintaining Close Friendships
Having a friend who loves and accepts you for who you are, warts and all, is such a treasure that few actually have. The older I get, the more I see the value of maintaining my friendships. There’s such a spectrum of friendships we need to maintain, from our spouse to our family members. But since we’re exploring the topic of self-care, I think it’s important to also consider having close friendships outside our family unit.
Friends offer a broader perspective to life. My family’s way of thinking and doing things are unique within itself. Our personalities meld together, and even our likes and dislikes start to align. All good things, until various aspects of our thinking start to produce blind spots. Pursuing and building friendships with people who share our foundational values, but see things from a different angle can be incredibly beneficial and an important step in caring for our overall person.
Stories of close friendships fill our Bible from David and Jonathan, Elijah and Elisha, Daniel and his three friends, Jesus and Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and Paul’s close friendships with Aquila, Priscilla, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. We can read how they refreshed each other’s spirits, were there for them in good times and bad, were not willing to leave them in times of distress, communicated often, and lifted them up in prayer.
We were created for companionship, and we need friends in our lives. Friends who give us hearty counsel, friends who make us smile, and encourage us, challenge us, and truly love us. And how does one gain a friend? Proverbs says so simply that we must take the first step in being the kind of friend we need and be that to someone else. If you don’t have a close friend, ask God to show you who needs a friend and begin opening yourself up. More often than not, it will blossom into a beautiful friendship. If you have some close friends, count your blessings, and for the sake of your own well-being, continue investing in those friendships often.
No doubt there are countless things we could do or buy to give us some reprieve from our busy lives as moms. My prayer for you, dear fellow mom, is that whatever you choose as your self-care routine, it would lead you to discover all the riches and grace that God has to offer you.