I believe self-care is about becoming who we were made to be. In spiritual terms we may call it taking care of earthly vessels or sharpening our souls.
I’m going to be honest here. Taking time out can be such a pain. I prefer to keep hiking my journey without stopping to rest, to hydrate, to check my map.
But here’s the thing:
If I am exhausted, sick, and frazzled, I cannot fulfill my holy calling. If I have no time for meditation or study, I cannot feed my soul. And if I don’t stop to check my direction, drink water, and rest my body, then I’m going to end up totally off the path or dead on the side of the road.
In my early twenties I was on a mission to rescue the world. I helped with a youth group. I wanted to start every ministry I thought our church was missing. I was trying to rescue anybody and everybody around me.
But inside, I was a mess. I was depressed. I was all mixed up. I was wandering through the woods with a broken compass that pointed every way but North. I took a timeout from all my helping plans so God could completely tear me down and rebuild me piece by piece. He had different plans for me, ones that involved deep vulnerability, humility, and learning. Beautiful, terrible, transforming self-care.
Sometimes self-care is delightful. Maybe it’s a spa day, a nap day, lunch with a friend, a cat snuggle.
Sometimes self-care is anguish. Saying no to what we want so we can have what we need.
Of course, as a broken human being, I am fully capable of convincing myself that self-care involves extra cookies, a new gadget, hiding in my house, or any number of self-indulgences. Selfishness is always there on the margins, waiting to elbow into the picture.
So I’m not saying it’s easy. Discernment and help are needed. A community is key — friends and loved ones who draw me out and lift me up when I am mired in my own stuff.
So much feels broken in the world, and sometimes I still find myself rushing to fix and rescue and patch the holes that pop up one after another. So I stop to rest, and refuel, and reorient my path. And then, once I am pointing in the right direction, I gain a longer view on life, a deeper capacity to love, and the peace of of a purposeful walk.