What would the world look like if we were all able to give from the fullness of who we are? If we took the time to give fully and love fully? Giving fully can only be done if we first take the time to slow down, be present, and allow ourselves to be filled.
Self-care is a huge buzzword right now, but if we really dig into what it means, we get some clarity beyond the selfish face it can seem to display. The term doesn’t mean to be solely focused on self, which would be better defined as narcissism. Caring for one’s self in a healthy way is about empathy, compassion, and bringing your gifts to the world. It comes from a place of realization that you were made for a purpose and that you matter.
A handful of years ago, I attended a leadership conference. During one of the sessions, I heard Pastor Eugene Cho speak. The session was immensely impactful; it was a pivotal moment in changing my view of self-care. I want to share my notes and thoughts on that talk with you today.
The talk started out by digging into the Bible passage, Luke 7:36-39. The story in this passage tells of a woman who entered the room where Jesus was having dinner with a Pharisee (one of the religious leaders of the day). The woman, not exactly welcome in that space with the men (in that time period), proceeds to anoint Jesus’ feet with oil and tears. At first glance, this story may seem quite odd for our modern day culture – woman wiping a man’s feet with oil while she’s crying – . Not exactly the everyday occurrence now. It wasn’t in their day either. The men in the room judged her for her actions, but she proceeded anyways because she knew what Jesus had done for her life. The impact He had on her outweighed the judgements; she was compelled to give back out of the fullness and healing He had given her. So, what can we learn about self-care from this story? Let’s dive in:
1. Don’t Play the Victim
- You are the CEO of your own care – It is not up to your spouse, your friend, or anyone else to take ownership of your care. Those decisions and actions are yours to make. It can be easy to blame a busy schedule, or your kids, or work, etc., for your lack of care, but the truth is that you are the only one who can set aside the time to make that care happen.
- There is no self care without self – Let’s bust the myth right now that self-care is not selfish, because it is, and it’s supposed to be. There is a time when it is good to set aside other’s needs to focus on your own concerns and care. A little bit of this is important because if we are always caring for other’s needs, eventually it will catch up with us. I have experienced this firsthand when I poured out to others to the point of deteriorating my health. Trust me, the lack of care/concern for oneself is not worth the potential of a few more hours of serving others. Taking time to care for yourself and refuel will allow you to have even more to give to others. It’s truly beautiful how that works.
Curious what I’ve learned from my self-care practice? Here’s my post on 5 Learning Moments from my Self-Care practice.
2. Your Work Matters
- Your work is life-giving – You are here on this earth for a purpose. The work and gifts that you bring to the world are life-giving, both for you, and for those who are recipients of your work. When you fully step into who you are, those gifts and that work is an outpouring of the time you’ve spent exploring and learning who you are. Withholding that work is doing a disservice to those who may really need what you have to say.
- Do you see God at work here? – This question is so impactful to explore, and can be revealing as to whether you’re on the right path or not. Do you see blessing and abundance overflowing from your work (this can be evidenced in many different ways, not excluding dollars)? Are you in alignment with where God is working and moving? Taking that self-care time to dig into how our gifts align with who, what, and where God has placed us in this season can be a powerful way to explore the impact our work is having, and seek to join Him in His work. For me, this is a daily practice of prayer, meditation, and Bible reading to tune-in to where God is leading me.
Ready to create space in your schedule for that life giving work? Check out my post on creating space in your schedule.
3. Relationships Matter
- Giving permission to ask the hard questions – Be/Become someone who is asking hard questions both to yourself being a safe space for other’s to ask hard questions to you. Questions are a powerful form of communication and the quality of our question determines the quality of the answer. The intentionality, depth, and openness to different opinions will help to bring greater understanding. When asking hard questions, it’s important to be patient and listen (to yourself or others) with the intent to understand. Hard questions often require mindset change, the willingness to take action, and to have empathy for another person’s experience.
- Do at least one thing to bless someone else each day – Small acts of kindness can completely change someone’s day. Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word, a small gift, a hug, a listening ear, or a quick message that says you’re thinking of someone. Give with the intent to truly bless someone else, not to receive in return or get praise for your efforts.
Are you leaning into self care as a couple? Here’s my tips for organizing as a couple.
4. Learn to Rest
- What does that look like for you with real life tensions? – Taking a day off may feel like a giant mountain to climb when work fills your week and other activities are spread across the weekend. However, the current cultural climate places us in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. This unusual season of life has given us the opportunity for a refresh in our schedule and lives. It has provided the space to re-evaluate what is important, and emphasize the importance of having time to simply rest. Being flexible, but also planning to take the time off from the regular rhythm of the week (put it in your calendar!) is a valuable self-care practice.
- Time with God – For me, the time I spend with God is a time to tune in, recenter, and find purpose. It’s a time where I can learn about my Creator and be filled with His peace. For me, this time consists of reading my Bible, journaling, meditation, and prayer. It can also look like prayers through the day as continued conversation, like talking with a friend. I’ve been spending time reading Psalm 23 lately and learning about God as my Shepherd, as someone would take loving care of their sheep. A relationship with God is not about do’s/don’ts like so many Christians make it out to be. It’s about a life-giving, on-going connection.
Ready for renewal through rest? Here’s what I learned from a year of pursuing renewal.
5. Do You Know What Feeds Your Soul?
- Too busy has become a code word for “too lazy” – When I was around 16 years old, I decided that I was going to remove the word “busy” from my everyday vocabulary. I made the choice that it was no longer going to be an excuse for laziness and lack of priorities. This shift in language set me down a path of being truthful with myself. I’ve discovered that we so often use the word “busy” to run from the truth of what is really going on. We are are afraid, or too comfortable, to face our emotions and our reality. It’s a posture of choosing not to take ownership of your choices by letting “busy” run the show. I encourage you, take back your power. You are not a vicim to “busy” and you have the ability to choose to take action. You have the power to change you life that feels “too busy”, if you choose to do so.
- Is it legit or has it become my default? – Are you actually doing the work that matters in your life, or are you simply keeping yourself busy? Has using the word “busy” as a response, or even as a mindset, kept you feeling overwhelmed and worn out? It’s time to change that default. Your brain is neuroplastic (basically a fancy word to mean that you can change). With intentional direction, you can change your default to be empowering and truthful. As life speeds up, be intentional about staying present. If you are disengaging from life, it’s likely you are going too fast. You can change the story you’re telling yourself and step into those gifts/that work you are meant to bring to the world.
Feed your soul by tuning in. I created this post with journal prompts to help you out.
6. Go on Holiday Well
- Are you resting well? – My husband and I decided to change how we talk about going on vacation. The word “vacation” means to vacate, to escape. If you are living the life God intended for you, you won’t feel the need to escape it. We call our vacations “going on Holiday”. First off, the word “holiday” makes me smile, and it goes back to my British roots. Most importantly, it brings a different perspective on rest. It doesn’t assume that an escape is needed; it’s focused more on an adventure, exploring, and loving life from a different perspective. Going on Holiday could look like clearing the calendar and staying home, or it could look like physically going to a new location. The idea is to rest, so if you are taking time off, but it’s not restful, I’d challenge you to seek out how to find and experience your own rejuvenating holiday.
Ready to create a vacation plan? Read my post on using Pinterest to plan your vacation.
7. Water Your Grass
- It may be greener on the other side because you haven’t watered your own grass – This idea is a huge wake up call – whether it’s relationships, your parenting, your work environment, etc., if you are not watering your own grass, aka. self-care, then it will eventually shrivel up and die. We often don’t want to think about that part of things, though. We just want to catch a little water from our neighbor’s sprinklers, or hope it will rain. Your grass needs more than a little water here and there to truly flourish, however. It needs regular care and maintenance; everything from aerating, pruning, fertilizing, repairs, weeding, sunshine, and regular watering. This takes work and ownership. When we are leaning into that responsibility and exercising the actions that keep our own grass green, we won’t have time to compare our grass to the neighbor’s.
- God knows everything about you, and hasn’t left you – Guess what, you are not alone in this. God sees you, knows you, and knows what you are going through. He sees your pain, your fear, your attempts to run away from who you are. He is right beside you, giving you clues about how He made you and how you can uniquely impact this world.
Let’s focus on your grass and give the gift of being present. Check out this post with tangible tips to get you started.
You were made to thrive and flourish. Although this world isn’t perfect, you can still lean into the calling and gifts that you have been given. Focus on your self-care and know that the time and energy you put into refueling yourself will overflow onto others; especially if you have a heart for giving and serving. It’s time to reclaim your joy and let that overflow into the relationships around you. You’re not alone in this: start your journey with a friend, learn from this Three Lime Pines community, learn from books and others that have gone before you; let’s dive in!
Question: What is one way you can start to take ownership of your self-care today?