“Self-care is never a selfish act-it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.” ~Parker Palmer
Taking care of yourself often seems like a guilty pleasure. In our fast-paced world, we fill every moment, and expend all of our energy, while wishing there were more hours in the day. We scrape the bottom of the barrel, trying to muster up more stamina and strength to get through, only to rise and grind all over again.
As we push ourselves beyond the limits that God created for us, we wound our body, soul, and mind. Even worse, we carry that woundedness into our relationships, activities, and ministry. This is the way of the leader, we say. Always giving, never ceasing, going above and beyond. So off we go, in our self-inflicted woundedness, carrying it as a badge of honor.
Why do we do this?
We have convinced ourselves that we are not allowed to care for ourselves. We believe the lie that self-care is selfish.
Here's how our mindset goes: Jesus followers are called to sacrifice. We are to be last, not first. We should serve and give generously of ourselves no matter the cost. If we care for ourselves, we are selfish and not putting the needs of others first.
This mindset is a twisted version of the word of God. Are there going to be times when you put another's interest ahead of yours? Of course. Should we lavishly pour love and life into others? You bet! But here's the thing: You can't give what you don't have. If all you do is pour and give, it will bleed you dry, and you will become an empty, ineffective vessel.
This is not the kind of abundant life Jesus had in mind when He said, “I have come so they may have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way.” (John 10:10 NIRV)
God loves you. God cherishes you. And it is God's desire for you to love and cherish yourself as much as He does. Caring for ourselves is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship with God, and it allows us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbor as ourself.
It is time to accept the gift of your limitations rather than running and hiding from them. Take care of yourself. Linger in relationships, get proper rest, laugh more, and do things that you enjoy. Go for a walk, watch the sunset, dance to your favorite music, read a good book. Observe what’s happening around you and rediscover the glory and splendor of this world. It will require saying no to some requests in order to say yes to caring for yourself…the one and only gift you have to give this world. But as you do you will experience the peace, joy, power, and confidence that comes from trusting that God is enough.
How do you need to care for yourself today? What requests on your time and energy require a “no” so that you can say “yes” to being your best self? What opportunity does God have for you as you love yourself the way He loves you?