Life felt really crazy from the moment I woke up each day. I would grab my phone to check my emails and get ready for all the day would bring: meetings, leading ballet, coffee with a friend, dinner with another. My schedule was full with ministry, teaching, bible study and time with friends. My 80 mph speed couldn’t last forever, but I enjoyed all I was doing and didn’t know what I could remove. I decided to take some time away, you know, for some “self-care.” I got my nails done and walked the lanes of Target. I read books and went on walks.
I prayed throughout this time, but I realized that (whether in my busy or slower schedule) I was inviting God into my world, instead of being a part of His. I would ask God to bring me peace in the midst of my chaos. My prayers were a request for rest, but I was doing a lousy job of actually taking time for it. Despite my true focus on God during this time, this is what He taught me:
1. True peace comes only from the Peacemaker Himself, especially when it comes to taking care of yourself.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Yes, there are times when God hands us water and electrolytes when we’re running our marathon and fuels us with His strength so we can keep going. There are also times when God asks us to focus all our attention on Him and to just rest in His presence. We can do this by finding a quiet place to pray and listen. Sometimes listening to worship songs or journaling can help to disengage our mind from distraction. Begin with thankfulness. We can start a Blessings Book and write down new things each day for which we are thankful. Then we can talk out our thoughts, dreams and fears with God. Remember, He already knows us so well that nothing comes as a surprise to Him and He loves to hear from us. Then listen. Just be still and let His peace wash over.
2. Taking care of yourself means finding true release, rest and freedom which comes from trusting in Him.
To give God the reigns to my schedule, I would need to trust Him. To trust Him, I would need to know Him. And to know Him, I would need to spend more time with Him. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) When we choose to depend solely on ourselves, we can easily become tired from trying to make everything go a certain way. However, when we choose to let go and let God be in control, we can believe that He is working everything out on our behalf. Whether it’s a friendship we’re unsure about, family issues at home or trying to decide what career path to follow, He can and wants to lead us. He’s the Creator and because He created us, He knows what’s best for us. Do not be scared if things seem out of place. If we’re seeking His will, we can trust that He is strategically putting the pieces of our life into the perfect place.
3. True soul care is far more important than self care and simply taking care of yourself.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) I need less of me and more of Him. When we focus more on Jesus, getting to know Him and letting Him lead us, we end up gaining all we ever needed and more. It’s easy to focus on ourselves and our needs. The truth about self care is that while it brings bits of happiness, it never fully satisfies. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus and let Him tend to our souls. It’s there that we’ll find the peace, trust, confidence and strength we need.
The most important thing I came to realize was that God wants us to move BEYOND self and soul care. He wants us to move INTO allowing Him to really care for us. When we allow ourselves to rest in His peace, we’re physically and spiritually saying we trust Him to work out the details of our life. He will meet us in our stillness and give us all the peace and strength we need every day. So instead of roaming the aisles of Target or indulging in that pint of ice cream (okay maybe sometimes!), let’s sit at the feet of Jesus and let Him fill our souls with His care.