Friday, April 24, 2020

The Fruit of Self-Care

The Fruit of Self-Care

In our Living Your Word of the Year group we have been pondering weekly questions to help us connect with our word of the year in order to make it an active part of our lives. This week our question is:
How can you nurture your word with self-care this week?
We can thank Valerie Sjodin for these great weekly questions.  :)

My word for 2020 is fruit. The quote that describes my intention for selecting this word is by Dallas Willard:
"If you tend to the tree, the fruit will take care of itself."
For me, a large part of "tending to the tree" is about self-care practices. Fruit is the by-product of something else. Spiritually, it is the by-product of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives. He enables us to position ourselves before the Father for transformation. Spiritual practices or disciplines help us in this positioning, they help us live the life of the Spirit.

Self-care can be a loaded term in some circles. Some may see it as selfish or being self-indulgent. Others may have the view that it is a time waster, something only those who have a lot of extra time on their hands can indulge in. Whatever your view of self-care may be, I hope you'll indulge me in sharing my thoughts on the subject. 

In my own journey, embracing self-care came out of a time in my life when I was experiencing burn-out. I had worked in ministry for quite a few years - the same ministry I work in now - and I was struggling with feeling worn out, having no energy, constantly emotional, and not seeing how I could continue to pour out myself in outreach ministry for much longer. I was running on empty and it felt like the only solution to my problem was to quit my job. I am not going to go too much into the details here, but I ended up not quitting my job, and over the course of a few years of reading, studying the Bible, and talking with a few trusted friends, I found the answer to my burn-out issues was in self-care.

One of my foundational passages of Scripture for self-care is Mark 12:28-31.
"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” "
Jesus says that loving God and loving our neighbor/others are the most important commandments. Yet this verse also makes an assumption: that you are already loving yourself. Not loving yourself in an unhealthy manner that is self-absorbent or verges on narcissism, but 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 at times. 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. 

Over the past years I have used this verse as a guideline when determining my intentions or goals with my word for the year. Jesus is calling us to love God with our whole being:
  • With all our heart - this is our emotional health. Often burn-out has more to do with a loss of emotional energy than physical. So what habits and activities help restore my emotional energy? How can I make time for these activities in order to fill up what has been drained?
  • With all our soul - this is our spiritual health. How am I regularly drawing closer to God? What practices can I put into place that deepen my relationship with Him and that help create spiritual health?
  • With all my mind - this is our mental health. What am I doing to keep my brain healthy? How can I keep learning and growing? What practices need to be in place?
  • With all my strength - this is our physical health. Being physically healthy helps all of the other areas of our health. What practices do I need to put into place to eat well, to exercise, to insure good sleep? What practices do I need to eliminate that cause my body to be unhealthy?
The other passage for self-care that is important to me offers Jesus' prescription:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Self-care is about resting in Jesus and learning from Him. But that's a message for another day!

This week think about your intentions and goals for your word of the year and ponder this:
What am I doing to care for my heart? For my soul? For my mind? For my strength? What am I doing to grow healthier in these areas, so that I may love God with my whole being and love my neighbor/others well? 
(Complete with a pen slip-up!)

"When I stop and rest, I can fill up and that enables me to pour out." ~Sunshyne Gray

Join us in the Living Your Word Community
My friends Bernice Hopper, and Valerie Sjodin, and I share insights through blog posts for creatively living a word of the year. In our Facebook group, we encourage one another by posting questions and prompts to inspire living out a word focus, keeping a journal etc. It is a safe place to ask for prayer and support. If you would like to connect with others in creative ways about living your word, you can ask to join our Living Your Word of the Year 2020 by clicking on the link below.

Hashtag for Instagram:  #livingyourword2020
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