Self-Care as a Spiritual Discipline
“Self-Care” has become a popular buzz phrase in our culture today. We see it on the cover of magazines, on billboards and probably in our own list of Pinterest boards. Often, we hear this term used in conjunction with luxurious indulgences such as a day at the spa or an all- inclusive getaway. Before you go throwing things at me through your computer screen, hear my heart! I am not against any of those activities! If you have the finances for such things, by all means, go and enjoy those blessings to the fullest without guilt. However, I would like to center our time together today around the idea that self-care is a spiritual discipline and how to refresh your spirit by revitalizing your daily routines.
Is Spiritual Self Care Selfish?
As a wife, mom of two, cancer caregiver and brain tumor advocate, I whole-heartedly believe that spiritual self-care is a necessity. Yet, I would be lying to you if I said it was not a challenge for me personally and something that I really struggle with in my life. Unfortunately, I think we have conditioned ourselves to believe that self-care practices are selfish or self- indulgent. When, in reality, they can be very life giving and life honoring practices of the gifts God has given us. Our minds, bodies and spirits are precious in the sight of our Lord. By being good stewards of these gifts, we can live and care for ourselves as an act of worship to God the Father.
When I am in the trenches of life and just trying to keep my head above water, its usually the things I need to do the most that get ditched from the list first.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Can anyone else relate to this?
As my fingers type these words, I find my mind humming the C&C Music Factory tune from the 90’s, “Things That Make You Go Hmmm.” It sounds like such a backwards way of thinking, yet so many of us do this every.single.day!
We get so overwhelmed by our schedules and the commitments vying for our time and attention that we sacrifice sacred time needed to care for ourselves. Instead of protecting it, we freely trade it in to do more and be more for others, while doing less and less for ourselves.
Small Subtle Trades Come at a Cost
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “‘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, NIV).
In the wise words of one of my pastors, we must learn to “keep the main thing, the main thing.” When we approach our overflowing agendas and to-do lists, we must pause and recognize our need for the Lord before we try to respond to the needs of others. We will never be able to love and serve our people well if we do not commit to loving the Lord first, with our whole mind, body and spirit.
By ignoring our personal spiritual health and needs, we will not be able to adequately nourish the spirits of others that have been entrusted to us.
How to Refresh Your Spirit By Revitalizing Your Daily Routines
Our Spirit’s Need for Quiet Time:
If this is a practice you have yet to adopt, please consider making this a non-negotiable part of your day. This dedicated time between you and the Lord is precious and necessary for the health and vibrancy of your Spirit. These sacred moments do not have to be formal, poetic or neat. This is dedicated time spent in communion with our heavenly Father through prayer, Scripture reading, quiet reflection and meditation.
It is not the quantity of time but the quality of your time that matters
Whether you have 5 minutes or 50, commit to being full present in those designated moments. For those intimate minutes, rid yourself of all distractions. Prepare your mind, body and spirit to engage and commune fully with the Lord. Ask Him to send His Spirit to fall fresh on you. Focus your heart and mind on Him and ask Him to breathe new life into your weary spirit.
Quiet time can be done at any time throughout the day. However, from personal experience, having quiet time at the beginning of my day, helps refocus the perspective of the entire day ahead. It puts Christ at the center of it all, right where he belongs.
Guarding this time with the Lord protects my soul from getting overwhelmed by the world and consumed by my circumstances, before the sun even rises on my day. Honoring this commitment with Him each morning prepares and equips my Spirit to walk in my gifting and to follow His promptings and leadings for His service throughout my day.
Loving the Lord in these quiet moments before my day begins, prepares my heart to love and serve His people well.
Spiritual Affirmations of Truth:
We live in a time where we are inundated with information and pervasive messaging. It is often damaging to our delicate spirits and detrimental to our relationships with the Lord and others. To guard our spirits from the dark, deceitful lies and schemes of Satan, we must put on the full armor of God.
We can proactively protect our spirits by surrounding ourselves and grounding our spirits with TRUTH from scripture.
- Commit Scripture to Memory
- Write Scripture verses down on index cards and carry them with you wherever you go
- Put Scripture around your home, especially in places where you spend the most time or find yourself vulnerable to the attacks of Satan.
Surrounding yourself with truth will equip and ready your Spirit for the cunning and persistent attacks of Satan.
Be Intentional About Christian Community:
God in His very nature is a relational God (Father, Son and Spirit) and He created us to not live in silos, but to live in genuine Christian community with one another. In Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 it says, “Two are better than one…A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (NIV). Surrounding yourself with other believers will not only encourage and nourish your spirit but it will hold you accountable to living out truth daily in thought, word and action.
Do Something Life-Giving for Someone Else:
Commit to blessing another through a selfless act of service throughout the day. It does not have to cost money or take up a great deal of time. When we begin to intentionally seek out opportunities to be the hands of feet of Jesus to others, the Lord will in turn bless and nourish your spirit.
Practice Gratitude Daily:
Commit to making your first and last thoughts of the day, those of gratitude. Before tuning in to the ways of the world, call to mind all the ways the Lord has blessed you. Give thanks for all the big and small ways God has touched your spirit and has His hand at work in your life. Centering your Spirit on Christ, with gratitude, keeps you grounded in blessings and guards your Spirit from adopting an attitude of lack or scarcity mentality.
Make Meaningful Time a Priority for Your Spirit
We certainly do not need another commitment or agenda item on our already burdened list of to-do’s. However, I would argue that we need to make time to breathe life into our weary and worn out spirits. Making time for meaningful connection between our Spirits and our Lord is critical to our spiritual health and overall well-being.
Our Heavenly Father uniquely created each one of us for meaningful connection with Him and others. My prayer for each one of you precious women reading this today is that you will find margin in your day and your week to do something for your spirit that will draw you closer to Lord…even just for a few precious minutes throughout the day. Meaningful time looks differently for each one of God’s daughters. Whether it’s a nature walk, listening to worship music or writing poetry…commit to life giving activities for your soul. Offer them up as acts of worship to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Where is that one place or that one activity in your life that allows heaven and earth to collide, even just for a moment in time?