So… there is something that has been on my mind for a long time that I’ve been really thinking about. I feel a need to write about this but honestly, I’m a little scared. I feel like it’s somewhat of a touchy subject and I don’t want to preach at anyone. I just want to share my thoughts and I’d really like some feedback.
Probably close to a year ago someone asked me (with the very best intentions) what I do for self care. I was stumped. I had no idea how to answer that question. Living in a land where luxury is not very accessible and where I was living a life of service I guess I just forgot about such a thing. At first I felt kind of embarrassed. You know, I had no method for self care. But the more I thought about it since then the more I’m actually glad that I don’t have a method for self care.
Okay, hang on. I’m just going to dump some of my thoughts. Why do we need to do something to pamper or make us feel better about ourselves? Why do we do self care? Are we really supposed to be focusing so much on ourselves anyway? Doesn’t the Bible tell us to deny ourselves? So then why are we pampering ourselves? I know sometimes we just need to refocus. I totally get that. I’m not speaking against that at all. I know how draining and tiring life and serving can be. Sometimes we just need a breath of fresh air. I so get that. What I would like to talk about though is what we do when we need a restart. Do we spend lots of money and go to the spa? Do we get a babysitter and go splurge shopping? Do we go to a 5 star hotel for the night? How do we use our time to recharge? Is it solely focused on pleasing ourselves and pampering ourselves? If so, how do we really feel at the end of it when it’s time to go back home and face life? Are we really that much more inspired and ready to do life after focusing so much on ourselves?
Maybe we need to take the focus off of ourselves. Maybe we need to embrace a life of constant giving and dying to self. Maybe we wouldn’t burn out so quickly if we expected to live spent. (Isn’t that kind of what it looks like to be a Christian anyway? Unselfishly giving and giving.) Maybe it’d be better to look at all of our overwhelming things as something we get to do to for the Lord instead of something we need to gruel through.
When I embrace my season of life and live with a grateful heart that’s connected to my Father I don’t feel the need for some “me time.” I’m not saying I never need breathers. I do. But what am I doing with my breathers? Am I spending it all selfishly focused on me and my needs? What if my self care, me time, breather or whatever you want to call it would be focused on God instead of me? How would that change things? Instead of going to the spa I go for a walk out in nature communicating with my heavenly Father. Instead of binge shopping while my children are at the babysitters I invite another mother and her children over to my house giving my children play time with her children while she and I sit and talk and encourage each other and pray together. Maybe instead of going and sitting by myself at Starbucks I put the children to bed early and I have some precious heart-to-hearting with my husband. Maybe instead of spending the day by myself doing my own thing I go out with a friend and we share our hearts and encourage and inspire and pray for each other.
I don’t know if any of this is making sense. But I’m just thinking that we need to take the focus off of ourselves. We don’t deserve self care or me time. That wasn’t Jesus’s attitude. He freely gave and gave and gave. In His giving He found strength to go on giving some more. But, here’s a little secret. He wasn’t depending on His own strength. Maybe that’s part of the problem why we burn out. We try too hard to do life in our own strength. Jesus did alone time! But what did He do during His alone time? He went up into the mountain to pray. He used His alone time to reconnect with His Father. Let me guess that is where He got His strength from and that was His secret to living an abundant joyful life. He used His time off wisely. He wasn’t wasting it on the flesh. He used it to build His spiritual life. By investing in His spiritual life He received the needed strength to minister to the throngs of needy people.
You know what? I’ve been trying a new approach for refreshing myself. Instead of focusing so much on me I’ve been using my time more wisely and being more intentional about connecting with God during my alone time. I feel much more rejuvenated when the focus is on Him instead of me.
Can you hear my heart? I’m not saying that there is not a place for some purely selfish me-time. Maybe there is. I did recently take a nice soak in the tub with a book and a cup of tea. It was wonderful and I felt much more relaxed after that. I didn’t regret that decision. But I’m not going to do that every time I need to recharge. One day recently when I was feeling especially drained I spent the time when my children were napping and having their quiet time to have some prayer time with my Father and refocus by writing things out in my journal. It wasn’t more then 30 minutes but it gave me the boost that I needed to face the rest of my day with joy. There may be times when I’ll go out for coffee by myself or when I go get a massage. I don’t think doing those things is wrong. But doing things just for my pleasure all the time is not a good thing and I won’t make that my habit.
My challenge to you in closing is simply this. Use your self care time wisely. Don’t waste it all on yourself. Find a way to refocus that is not all about you. Maybe, just maybe if we take the focus off ourselves we’ll find the strength we need to do life really, really well. Maybe then we won’t even need to look for ways to keep going day after day. It’ll just flow out of us because we’re focused on the right things. Maybe we should all at least try to deny ourselves and let God’s strength become our strength. Life is not about us. It’s about Him. And others. We as Christians are called to give and give and give some more. In giving we receive. And maybe just maybe when we keep that perspective our hearts will be so full of joy and energy that we’ll think pampering ourselves and focusing on ourselves all the time a foolish thing to do.
“You have found true joy and happiness in life when you give and go on giving and never count the cost.”
I don’t know who the author of that quote is but when I read that I knew that was the perfect summary for this post.