At some point, we all come to the same realization. Life is chewing us up. There aren’t enough hours in the day or enough energy in the tank for all the tasks we need to accomplish. Many of us have reached our limit just trying to keep the plates spinning.
I know I have. There have been times when real life responsibilities have worn me down. I’m exhausted, yet I fear easing up lest it all come crashing down. So, I keep those plates spinning; but even when I succeed, there’s still a problem.
Though everything in my life is “good,” everything is not good with me.
A Way Out
As in all things, Jesus shows us a way out.
In teaching about the essence of the Law, he boiled it all down to this:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39, ESV)
While the religious leaders of the day had actually expanded the Law and turned it into a heavy burden, Jesus lightened the load.
Love God, love others, and love self.
Heart, soul, and mind—Jesus implies that our love for God should engage every part of us, from our emotions to our wills to our intellect. When every facet of life shows off the love of God, our very existence is an act of worship.
God is love, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7). As the Holy Spirit progressively changes us into the image of God’s son, we become more like him from day to day; and one of the primary ways in which we reflect him to the world is through our love for one another. Loving others is an act of worship.
In stating that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, Jesus operates under the assumption that we will love ourselves.
Some readers might be taken aback, fearing that self-love equals selfishness; however, although self-love can be twisted into selfishness, it’s not inherently selfish. After all, by calling us his children, God has deemed us worthy of his love. Who are we to look in the mirror at the person God loves and proclaim that person unworthy?
Self-care is not selfish. It gives us the strength we need to love God and serve others well. When properly established on its twin foundations, self-care is a natural outflow of who we are in Christ.
The Foundations of Self-Care
The first foundation of self-care is an understanding that the God who loves us gifted us with talents and energy to serve his kingdom. When we’re frantically spinning plates, however, headed inevitably toward a crash, we are not stewarding our gifts wisely. Quite the opposite. By threatening our long-term physical, mental, relational, and spiritual health for the sake of short-term returns, we’re actually diminishing our capacity to serve God and others over the long haul. We best honor God when we steward our resources as tools of worship.
The second foundation of self-care is the acknowledgement that while we are made in the image of God, we are not gods ourselves. That means we are able to develop certain of his attributes, like love, but not others, like self-sufficiency. While we know this truth in theory, many of us must slow down and disengage from the madness before we can we demonstrate this knowledge practically.
When we act as if everything depends on us, we betray an underlying suspicion that God can’t work in or through us unless we fire on all cylinders at all times. That’s a false fear. As his cherished children, we can rest in his sovereign love and care.
Even for those who know they need it, self-care is not an automatic activity. It’s an intentional mindset backed up by intentional acts. Stillness does not just happen on its own. Neither does rest. In many cases—barring emergency situations such as power outages, delayed flights, or illnesses—many of us just never slow down. Ever.
Rather than bouncing from pillar to post, stopping only when absolutely forced, we must instead create regular routines to support healthy rhythms of work and rest.
A Better You
We have created a tool to guide you in your self-care journey, and with 2019 right around the corner, this is the perfect time to dive in. Our book Build a Better Her provides a 31-day growth challenge designed to foster significant development in daily routines, relationships, and self-care. Head here and use code Propel20 to save 20% on your purchase of any book!
Vanja Thompson is a first-grade teacher and helped launch the non-profit organization Build A Better Us. Vanja has a passion for helping women experience authentic connection and for achieving personal growth. She enjoys quality time with loved ones, music, dance, and relaxing in God's natural creation. BJ is a life-coach, speaker, and author who helped launch one of the most significant faith movements in recent history, the "116 Movement" with Grammy-winning artist Lecrae. BJ has worked with tens of thousands of individuals and couples all over the world helping them experience personal and relational growth. Vanja and BJ have been married 16 years and live in Atlanta with their three children.