The ever-elusive question remains, "Why is self-care so hard for women?"
Why is it that we can give and give to others so freely and openly, but taking time for ourselves can be one of the hardest things we will ever do?
The answer to this question is many and as varied as the human race. But, there are several beliefs I feel most women resonate with most when it comes to putting others before herself.
The first comes in the form of guilt. Women may try to take time for themselves, but in the process feel even more guilty for doing so, making the entire attempt at self-care feel like a complete failure. Sound familiar?
A second belief comes in the form of not understanding what kind of self-care is really needed for one's soul. Sure, it is relatively easy to schedule yourself a massage or pedicure. While there is pleasure and relaxation that come with these activities, the benefits are short-lived, leaving women with the understanding that self-care simply does not provide what they truly need.
Finally, women, especially Christian women, feel like we should always put others before themselves and anything short of this would be considered selfish. Today, it is this selfishness that I am going to attempt to debunk.
As Christian women, it is true that a priority in our lives is to serve others. God gave many of us a beautiful family to care for. He gave us a job and career to nurture and grow, and he gave us friends to be in community with.
There is no arguing that God wants us to serve others for His glory. But, never does God expect us to neglect ourselves in the process. In fact, no where in the Bible does it talk about being selfish if and when we spend time on our own self-care. Let's take a look.
"Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
How often do you feed your children the best food in the house and eat poorly yourself? Have you ever thought about how this simple act is serving others and neglecting yourself? Doesn't your body deserve the same nutritious, healing food as what you give your children? One way to instill self-care into our days is to make sure the food we eat nourishes our body, the temple the Holy Spirt. Dear friend, are you honoring God by taking care of your body?
"Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil." (Ecclesiastes 9:7-8).
In this verse, God asks us to enjoy the fruits of our labor. As you work tirelessly to serve others, are you remembering to find time to 'eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart' or are you so focused on serving others that you forget about your own enjoyment? God is asking us to take time to find joy. This form of self-care doesn't always require you to leave your family for your own retreat. It could be practicing self-care with those you love, finding joy and rest as a family unit and honoring God with this gift.
"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:9-11).
Taking care of yourself requires you to rest. It requires you to enter into the Sabbath rest that God not only wishes for us, but commands. For many women, taking time each day to slow down and simply get quiet is wasted time and viewed as lack of productivity. Unfortunately, there is always a task and commitment waiting for us. But slowing down and resting is exactly what God asks. He knows it is the only way to renew and refresh our mind, body, and soul.
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-39).
This verse holds a lot of responsibility with it. When was the last time you were able to love your neighbor with ALL your heart, mind, and soul? In order to do this, God suggests we must love others as we do ourselves. You see God knows that without taking care of our own heart, mind, and soul, we simply cannot offer the kind of love that God is asking of us. It's impossible. We need to fill our own self-love tank before we can offer this kind of love to anyone else.
As you can see, God is asking us to take time to care for ourselves; to give ourselves the love we so freely give to others. As I close today, I want to leave you with some reflection questions. Spend time thinking through these responses and if you feel called, write down your answers. The process of journaling will help you untangle the lies you believe around self-care.
If I had to be honest, how would I rate my priority when it comes to taking care of myself?
What lies am I believing around self-care?
How do these bible verses help me think differently around taking care of me?
If you ever want to process this topic with me, simply hit the reply button on your computer. I welcome all comments and questions as you work to Thrive, rather than merely survive, through life.
Praying you through,
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