By Shannon Toller
It’s not a secret to anyone that knows me that I love a good self-help book. I like to paint my nails and put headphones in when the girls go to sleep. I cherish drinking a hot cup of coffee, and I may even like it when my taste buds get burned off with that first gulp. But, when it comes to the “self-care movement” of today, I feel like Sandra Bullock before she turns into Gracie Lou Freebush.
I’m all about a mani/pedi day with my girlfriends, followed by lunch and a movie. Except for the tiny baby hiccup that I just don’t have the time for that anymore. I am a stay at home mama to three girls under six, and it’s summertime to boot, so I am using all my God-given energy to figure out new ways to eat turkey sandwiches. I don’t have time (or money) to pay a sitter and take a “me day.” Quite honestly, I don’t even know if I would enjoy a day at the spa at this season of life; I wouldn’t be able to relax because I'd be too worried that the kids lit the house on fire. My head would be filled with more thoughts like, “I should have bought that baby-cam," instead of ideas of Namaste and chill. So instead of working myself into an anxiety spiral at a day spa, I find solace in my time with Jesus.
True Self Care
Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him is MY self-care.
I’m not sure if you knew this or not, but our Lord and Savior practiced self-care. Remember in the gospel of Mark when Jesus told his followers that there are two commandments to follow in their relationship with Him:
Right here in Scripture, Jesus implores us to take care of our friends and neighbors the way we take care of ourselves. We wouldn’t offer our friends the bare minimum: the scraps of food we eat off our kids’ plates at dinner time, or the five-minute bathroom timeout we so desperately need in our mothering journey. We would roll out the red carpet for a friend who was celebrating and break out the tissues and chocolate for the friend who was grieving. We would break out the best china, the best cheese and crackers, and we would fill their cups. We would pray with them, cry with them, and laugh with them. We wouldn’t guilt them into doing “more” or “less.” We would simply be with them. Just like Jesus simply is with us.
Jesus practiced self-care when He took time away from the crowds and the congregations to spend quiet time with the Father. He never had a big prayer session in the middle of a marketplace. He went to the most secluded of places, simply so He could hear what His Father was speaking to him. He never tried to do it himself or put on a façade. When Jesus was scared and reluctant to be beaten, bloodied, and crucified on a rugged cross for our sins, he literally sweat blood. He was as human as is humanly possible, without all of that silly sin stuff.
Jesus never forsook the fellowship. He was always available to his friends and family, but He still knew when the time for prayer and solitude was on the horizon. Like Jesus, we need to remind ourselves that sometimes “self-care” isn’t a spa day: it’s the solitude of reflection and prayer. But in this world of “hustle this” and “hustle that” and “hustle until you’re dead,” being still and quiet and open to the movement of the Holy Spirit is the most counter-cultural thing you could do in 2019.
C.S. Lewis says it best: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
Redefining Self Care
Spa days and comfy leggings and tubs of ice cream are fun and enjoyable. But when you are choosing them over Jesus, that’s when life starts to fall apart. When you focus too much on yourself and your “self-care,” you are neglecting one of the most important commandments in the Bible: Everyone should look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
Yes, we need to take care of ourselves. Us mamas need to get a shower in more than once a week. We need to wear our hair down instead of defaulting to the “mom-bun.” But, if we are neglecting our families and friends for the sake of self-care, then I think we are all missing the point.
Being a young mama isn’t for the faint of heart, especially in 2019. We need to be kind to ourselves and extend that good, good grace God extends to us. We need to get sound sleep each day. Contrary to popular belief, I cannot run on coffee, and I’m betting you can’t either. We need healthy, nutritious diets to fuel our adventures in motherhood. We need to get out the stroller and take a walk with the kids. We need to play at the park and swing on the swing set. We need to dance in the kitchen with our husbands, and we most definitely need to make out with our husband in front of our children. They need to see love and stability, just as much, if not more than we do. We need to go to the doctor when we aren’t feeling well. We need to ask for help when we are drowning in sorrow and depression and laundry.
Most importantly, we need to rely on Jesus and our relationship with Him. Not just because He is our heavenly Father and our Savior, but because He is our friend. The friend who sacrificed himself for a punishment we so rightfully deserved is a prayer away. The Holy Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave lives in you. How’s that for “self-care” in your daily life?