In prep for our last get together to talk about self-care, I read a passage that is very familiar to me, and probably to many of you, but this time reading it brought to mind some different questions. Let me share:
The passage: "Jesus replied, " '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.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two verses." Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus had just been asked by one of the Pharisees in verse 36 which commandment is the greatest. The verse above give His answer. Not one, but two commandments are given as the greatest: loving God and loving your neighbor. Paul points to this last part, loving your neighbor, as a way of summing up all of the commandments in one (Romans 13:9) and as a way of fulfilling the entire Law (Galatians 5:14).
The part that brought about my questions was "Love your neighbor as yourself."
I think sometimes we view self-care as being selfish or self indulgent, but this verse makes an assumption: that you are already loving yourself in a manner that is healthy and good, and that out of that place you will love your neighbor/others in the same manner.To me loving yourself is about self-care. It's about taking care of yourself in ways that keep you healthy emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually so that you can be your best for others. Jesus modeled this when he withdrew and sought solitude, rest and time for prayer. He even did this at the expense of not serving others needs. He taught it and modeled it to His disciples. He was so in tune with His Father and the Father's will that he was able to discern when it was time for self-care and when it was time for caring for others.
So ponder these questions with me:
- How well are you doing at loving yourself?
- If you are not putting self-care/love practices into place that are healthy, then how well are you really loving others?
- Are you loving others out of something unhealthy? Such as co-dependency? Dysfunction? Facades? Trying to get your own needs met? Selfishness - to get something in return?
- Do you know yourself and your limits well enough to know how to fill your energy tank in the areas I listed above?
- Do you regularly take time to examine your emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental health?
- Do you regularly practice spiritual disciplines or habits that help shape you spiritually? Habits of rhythm such as rest, Sabbath, retreats that help energize you?
- Or are you spiritually thirsty? Worn out? Running on empty or burned out?
These are just some of the questions this passage brought about for me.
For me, self-care is a way of loving myself that is healthy, not selfish. In fact, Cloud and Townsend in their book "Boundaries" call self-care stewardship of the gifts God has given us. The end goal of self-care is what determines whether it is selfishness or stewardship: Am I doing this to make me better for God and others or just to make me better. The answer definitely requires soul searching and listening to God in prayer.
I encourage you to make self-care a priority. Pray through the questions above. You may even want to use this as a topic to explore for art journaling! I do quite often!
Earlier this week I got a surprise in the mail. Elissa, who I know through the Documented Life Project sent me an envelope full of "Happy Mail". Thanks Elissa! Here's a small sampling of what was in the envelope.
Last weekend I spent some time painting papers for one of the exercises our group did. I noticed I reach for The circle templates, stencils and stamps a lot!
And a recent non-Documented Life art journal page.
My Sabbath Day and art are big parts of self-care for me. What practices are significant to your self-care?