MOUSEY MOMENT … SELF-CARE SEPTEMBER!
Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. This month we’re encouraging everyone to be kinder to themselves (as well as others), especially when things go wrong. Dwelling on our flaws (what we’re not rather than what we’ve got) makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.
Having constant criticism in our heads about not being good enough is a sure way to be unhappy. This doesn’t mean we should ignore our weaker areas or the bad stuff that happens, but it does mean accepting that no-one is perfect, us included. It means putting our imperfections (and things that happen to us) into perspective – seeing them as normal rather than out of the ordinary. And it means a shift of focus, from what we don’t have or can’t do to what we have or can do.
We were made in God’s image, so since God is made up of three (Father, Son, Spirit), it makes sense that we are also made up of three (mind, body, spirit). In order to take care of ourselves, we must be healthy spiritually, physically, and mentally. If one area struggles, we struggle as a whole. The focus is on NOT comparing our insides with other people’s outsides!
What does the Bible has to say regarding the topic of self care? Let’s read about it from the perspective of Jesus’ life in the book of Matthew.
While there are many verses scattered throughout the Bible regarding self care, it’s exciting to see how many times Jesus gives us an example of this in His own life. Who better could we learn from than Jesus?
Self care can so easily become the “next thing” that consumes us. However, we must cut through cultural expectations and rely on God’s promises as we seek to find ways to implement self care and keep our focus on Him.
THE LIFE OF JESUS
As we read through the book of Matthew we keep coming back to the fact that Jesus led a life of burden. Obviously His spiritual role would have been taxing, however, as a man He was also continually burdened to meet others’ needs. How many times do we read where Jesus is asked to do something for someone? To heal someone. To come teach. To provide. To prove His worth.
The Bible says that Jesus was fully God and fully man. He felt the same tensions that we feel as we endure others’ expectations and demands. So how did Jesus handle self-care?
1) LAY THE FOUNDATION
First, why is self care important? Many people struggle with this idea thinking that it is selfish or ungodly. However, as believers, we have been commissioned to serve a purpose.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses it’s saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out & trampled by men.” Matthew 5 v13
Matthew 5 speaks to our need to be continually restored in our faith and purpose. We are here to be a light to the world! So this leads us to the first point: We must be spiritually fed in order to accomplish our purposes.
Our number 1 self care activity should be to feed our souls with the Word. The Bible is the living Word and gives us strength and power to face trials, set backs and burdens.
2) SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Matthew 6 v25-34 is a powerful passage for those who struggle with anxiety.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body; what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, & the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, & yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today & tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, & your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The last verse of this passage so quickly sums up the foundational activity of self care. “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.” Why? Because then all of the necessities of life are freely given! Food, drink, clothing, reassurance of safety and care. These things are part of God’s blessing to those who seek His kingdom.
So how do we seek His kingdom? We get into the Word! So many times we overcomplicate Christianity. It is much simpler than we make it. Read God’s Word and we will have a lamp unto our feet to guide us through hard times.
The feeding of the 5,000 was an amazing miracle where Jesus multiplied 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to satiate the hunger of over 5,000 people in Matthew 14. But along Jesus’ journeys it is recorded that he stopped to rest and ensured His followers physical needs were taken care of on many occasions. “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.’” Matthew 15 v32
At any point in the Bible have we read that our physiological needs must be met by constant dieting, intense workouts or unrealistic physical appearances? No! Heavens no. But it does say that we should eat and drink to have strength, rest when we are weary, and remember that we are honouring God when we care for our bodies.
3) TAKING TIME FOR SOLITUDE
The next area of self care is that of social rest. Solitude is something that can refresh the soul, refocus our minds, and provide us with tools to cut through the noise of society.
In Matthew 6 and Matthew 14 we see specific examples of Jesus seeking solitude. He used that time to pray and to be refreshed by communing with God.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11 v28-30
Notice that Jesus didn’t seek solitude idly. He did it with intention and purpose to pray specifically. Intentionally seeking solitude and time away from others is restorative when done with the purpose of seeking God in prayer.
We leave you with a slightly altered version of the Serenity Prayer. Often referred to by it’s first line (“God grant me the serenity”) this beautiful prayer for serenity, courage and wisdom is one of the world’s most famous prayers.
“God, grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I CANNOT change. Give me the STRENGTH and COURAGE to change the things I CAN, and the WISDOM to know the difference.”