Christians, Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

Women are prodded to be perfect from birth. Christian women especially face enormous pressure from society and faith to live up to the impossible standard of what a “good Christian girl” should be. It’s one of the major sources of the anxiety problems that cripple me and many other young women I know. This is why it makes me rejoice to see Christians embracing acts of self-care. That is, right up until other Christians pull the shame card.

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The First Will Be Last (And Anxious)

Our faith is beautiful in that it usurps the human desire for prestige with the godly pursuit of service. I adore the servant heart Jesus breathes into our lives. Putting others, regardless of their position, ahead of ourselves is the mark of a Christian. They will know us by our love, after all. It’s an amazing, counter-cultural way to live that breeds a closeness to God’s own heart for humanity. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done incorrectly.

When we make a rule out of prioritizing the needs of others, we must beware of tipping the scales too far. As righteous as putting others first is, doing so out of balance is dangerous. If you suffer from anxiety, you know what I mean by dangerous. Just because we are Christians doesn’t make us exempt from feeling drained and ineffective. If we want to continue being able to put others first in our lives, we can’t ignore ourselves.

An Empty Cup Can’t Overflow

The imagery of an overflowing cup is often used to illustrate how God works through us so let’s take it super literally. When you’re pouring out a cup, it eventually will be empty. We are not the source of living water. We must be poured into before we can pour out. In order to fill a cup again, you have to set it down and reach for the source. It would make no sense to keep the cup tilted and try pouring into it at the same time as pouring out of it. The cup must rest, hold still, and allow itself to be filled before it can continue pouring out. Are you catching my metaphor or am I just making you thirsty?

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

If you hear someone bemoaning self-care as just another millennial entitlement trend, think on this. Jesus practiced self-care. Say what?

Go reread the story of Gethsemane. Jesus, who didn’t need to be alone in order to be with God, steals away from his disciples for alone time. We actually see him doing this multiple times in the scriptures. As fully God and fully human, he still felt the need to create space for himself to be filled. We don’t shame Jesus for needing time to himself  (but Jesus does have some words when the disciples don’t support him during that time.)

Practice Selfless Self-Care

Seriously. Take a time out. Go to the source and get filled. No one expects you to be everything to everybody always. Making space for yourself to heal, rest, and be filled is just another way you can be Christ-like. Be refreshed and yes, #TreatYoSelf to self-care. There are many ways to practice self-care. It doesn’t have to be an indulgent splurge. It can look like a quiet morning of prayer. It could be a simple “no” when asked to overstretch. Or it might be something that’s refreshing for you and life-giving to others.

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What do you think about this?