When is it OK to stop working? When is it OK to take care of yourself? It’s all fine and easy to say you have to take care of yourself first, but do we really believe that? Is it even really true? Where is the balance between selfishness and taking care of yourself?
Even if you somehow know that your personal natural inclination is not to put self first, how do you know if you start down a path of self-care that you won’t go over the line to selfishness? I’ve been told to start with some self-care, because I’m far from the line of selfishness. Even if that true, something doesn’t sound right. It’s fine for someone to tell you you are far from that line, but can’t you know where that line is before you start the journey? Or is this the wrong question? Is self-care the right idea?
I’ll admit, though I use it often, I hate the term self-care. So many times, I’ve started to blog about my dislike of the term, but have given up writing as my brain became cloudy. Something seemed mostly right about it, but not quite right. The term doesn’t quite describe what we need. But what do we need?
People use Jesus as an example of self-care, when he withdrew from people and got away to a mountain to spend time with God and pray. He did this after his cousin John was killed. As I think about it, I think that is actually the key to what is wrong with the term self-care. Jesus didn’t get away to a mountain to take care of himself. He got away from the crowds so that God could take care of him.
It’s not about self-care. It’s about crying out to God to take care of us. Last night, two people mentioned stories of people who used phrases like, I have so much I have to get done today, I’ll need to spend at least three hours praying. These phrases were loosely attributed to a missionary mother and Martin Luther. Whoever said it, they rang true. They rang true, not as something I am experiencing, but as something I desperately need to experience.
I don’t need to take care of myself. I need to admit that I’m crashing and need God to take care of me. I need to admit, I don’t have anything left to give, and pray God will pour his life into me.
Often, we think time with God and prayer is about asking God to give you the strength to do what you feel you need to do, when what we really need to do, is just admit we are hurting, exhausted, and broken with pain, and just rest in him. It is trusting, not that he will make sure our list is accomplished, but that his will will be done. It is about admitting our frailty and crying out to him for care.
It isn’t self-care. It is God-care. It is making him Lord over your work, your rest, your sleep, your finances, your play, your healing, and your heart. It is about raising your arms and saying, “Help me,” and then sitting and waiting as he helps.
What if, what God wants most for me right now is a clean house, a nap, and a time of finger painting with Zoya? What if he doesn’t want me to send one more work email and worry about one more number? What if he wants to take care of me, rather than letting me work til I cannot complete a sentence while trying to take care of myself? I’ll never know if I don’t stop and allow for God care. It’s the sheep to hear his voice and follow, not the industrious ant.
It isn’t self-care. It’s about saying, “I can’t. I’m weak. I need you. Thy will be done.”