Abby and her husband Jay live in Indiana with their two children. They are blessed to be licensed foster parents as well. Abby has an undergraduate degree from Moody Bible Institute and a Masters in Social Work from Indiana University. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has worked with children and families involved with the Department of Child Services and Juvenile probation for 11 years. Abby loves her local church and serves in a variety of ministries there including working with children and teens.
The topic of self-care often brings up a myriad of responses within churches and Christ-followers. The concept seems overtly “non-Christian” to some of us. Think about it; the word “self” is included in the title of this activity we are often encouraged to consider implementing in our lives. And after all are we not directed, in Scripture, to die to self? So why would we want to spend time “caring” for self. Others of us may see the benefit but who has time for that? We have ministry, other full time jobs, family responsibilities, and the list goes on. Then, for some of us, there is the guilt that creeps in if we do in fact indulge in what we would define as self-care. There are events to be planned, church politics to navigate, staff meetings to attend, weekly set up to do, crises to manage, and oh yes, children’s hearts to shepherd With all the being said self-care is crucial to us in KidMin. But it may not be in the way it is often presented to us.
We all have struggles, get overwhelmed, and even on occasion deal with deep soul weariness. We wrestle to keep moving forward in what we know Jesus has called us to. Jesus says to us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Self-care is often presented as our need to take some time for ourselves, maybe go for a run, or binge our favorite show, or go outside and get some fresh air, have a guys/girls night. These can be helpful activities (depends on the show being binged I suppose!) but they fall short if left only at that. This is where some of our biblically minded warning bells go off. It seems self-indulgent. Let’s take Jesus’ example. The gospels record several instances where Jesus’ disengaged from crowds and “ministry” to be alone or with his inner circle. During these times the lame were still lame, the blind remained blind, the sick stayed sick. In other words, the needs were still present and pressing and yet Jesus made time. So how did Jesus use this time? Often in Scripture it’s recorded that he spent time connecting with his Father. And here is the rub it seems, how are we spending our time dedicated to what we refer to as “self-care”? Are we using it to connect to the one who said in Matthew “Come to me, I will give you rest?” He can use a variety of methods to refill our soul to give us rest even when the pressures, tasks, and stressors seem to overcome but we do need to seek Him out.
I encourage you to make a self-care plan that incorporates all of you in a holistic manner. Consider these statements when developing your plan
I can exercise my body by…
I can be a good friend by….
I can relax my body and mind by….
I can keep my work/life space tidy and manageable by…… (don’t tell my husband I included this one as he may encourage me to take my own input!)
My vision and goals are….
I can maintain healthy physical lifestyle by….
I would encourage you to keep in mind the purpose of developing a plan. The primary reason being able to fully and effectively serve others for Christ’s glory. Be intentional about using the time set aside to connect with God who is the only one who really brings peace. So maybe we are praising Jesus during our run, or meditating on His character and goodness during our break of fresh air, or allowing iron to sharpen iron during our evening out with friends. Make a plan that is plausible and achievable for you. For instance, my plan does not include a 5:00 a.m. prayer walk because it’s just not going to happen! Some of your plans may though!
David Mathis writes in Habits of Grace,
Grace is too strong to leave us passive, too potent to let us wallow in the mire of our sins and weaknesses. “My grace is sufficient for you,” Jesus says, “for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is the grace of God that gives us his “means of grace” for our ongoing perseverance and growth and joy this side of the coming new creation. And the grace of God inspires and empowers the various habits and practices by which we avail ourselves of God’s means.
We will not be able to care for ourselves effectively but through God’s grace we can “Come to Him and find rest”.