She waited until almost everyone had left the church auditorium. She chatted with her friends until she saw I was getting ready to leave then walked over to ask me a question.
“So, as Christians, if we are called to be selfless,” she took a breath, “how does it make sense to prioritize self-care? How can I justify doing something for myself when I’m called to sacrifice for other people in my life?”
I had just finished signing books after speaking to a mother’s group about the importance of taking better care of ourselves by letting God love us during the times we need it most — when we feel anxious.
As I asked my new friend about the pressures and stresses in her life, she began to share her story. As she did, I heard her deeper, real questions: Is it okay to take care of myself, even if it means the things I’ve been holding onto might fall apart? What if I fail to meet someone’s else expectations of me, including my own?
I heard the deeper desire of her heart that God hears us whisper: Am I worth loving too?
Are you longing for rest, wanting to take better care of yourself yet wondering if God really values what brings you joy and peace too?
During the holidays, when expectations are even higher, more than ever we’re aware of our anxieties. We feel pressure to make everything right and good for everyone. We put an unreasonable amount of pressure on ourselves to be all and do all. We compare ourselves and our families to others and carry this heavy feeling that we’ll have to work very hard to survive the holidays.
We end up ignoring our hearts and become numb to the joy and peace we long to feel. We keep quiet and soldier on, but God sees past our fears. God sees our hearts, and He will help us.
So, what if God wants our hearts more than our work? I want to share the soul care tip I shared with my new friend that day, and I hope it encourages you as well.
Try this soul care tip: Put aside your work and worries for just a moment, wherever you are. Relax in God’s presence, and whisper this simple prayer to yourself: Relax. Be still.
Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
The Hebrew word for “be still” is raphah, which means “to loosen your grip, relax,” and the Hebrew word for “know” is yada, which means “to personally experience.”
To be still and know God doesn’t mean ceasing soul care or self-care. It’s the opposite. It means letting go of whatever is keeping you from personally experiencing God! It means turning away from people pleasing, doing things to maintain an external appearance of peace when our inner spirit is anxious, hurting, or neglected. It means doing what refreshes your soul with God.
As you pray that simple prayer, how do you feel? Notice how your body responds when you say these words relax, loosen my grip. Sometime today and during the holidays, do something that helps you experience what peace and joy feels like for you. Prioritize an activity or decision based on what helps you uniquely enjoy experiencing God because when you prioritize your well-being, your family can enjoy you.
Also, if you know there will be unhealthy family or friend dynamics, plan for it by scheduling something joyful or comforting before and after the stressful interaction, like a soul care hug from God. This will strengthen your inner resources to deal with the stresses and conflicts you face.
And most of all, give yourself grace. Whatever happens on your journey, God will turn into an unfolding story of how He’s faithful to love you.
A Prayer for Your Heart Today
You are the author of my heart, and You know the words I need to set me free.
Whisper Your words of reassurance and love, and my heart will return to rest again.
You’ve made a way before when there was no way, so like autumn leaves, I let go.
I trust You. Help me to take better care of myself, and thank You for loving me.
In Jesus’ name,
How is your heart feeling? Breathe in God’s gentle reassurance. He understands.
Free resources for you: To take better care of yourself, I’m giving you 33 Ways to Refresh Your Soul (a book excerpt) and 28 Rest Ideas (printable). Sign up here to download these practical ideas to relax into God’s love.
As you face the holidays, give yourself grace. - @TheBonnieGray: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
This is the truth that is jumping off the screen this morning: “So, what if God wants our hearts more than our work?”
How wonderful that God does not NEED me or my love or my service, but nonetheless loves me with an everlasting love!
So much wisdom here, Bonnie, for charging into another season of serial holidays!
Bonnie Gray says
Thanks Michele! May your heart continue to feel the reassuring touch you felt this morning from God’s heart! Happy Thanksgiving!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I think this is a message that God REALLY wants me to take in. I’m reading this as I drink coffee from my DaySpring mug that has this scripture on it: Be still and know that I am God. Whoa! I’m really good at giving others grace, but giving myself grace? I’m a little, no, a lot stingy on self care. I need to get over this idea that self care is selfish. I’ve always done for others to the detriment of myself, but if I’m burned out, what good am I to anyone? God has really brought this point home lately. I’ve been working tirelessly with the Foundation I run (year end is always busy). I’ve been volunteering time to help others and cooking meals. I’ve had some family issues, but then who doesn’t? And, then my gallbladder decided to have a major attack which eventually brought me to the hospital to have it removed. On top of it all the holidays are on my doorstep and I’ve done nothing. Two days ago my tears flowed like the rain outside. My mood matched the dreary, gloomy day. “Jesus, help,” was my repeated prayer. I think He was telling me what you’ve said here….GIVE MYSELF GRACE. I did something I’ve never done, I ordered Thanksgiving dinner from a nearby market and informed my guests that I would not be cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and consider it another baby step forward. Bonnie, thank you for your continual call to be still, give ourselves grace, rest in His love, and simply be His beloved.
Bonnie Gray says
This is a bold and beautiful step of your heart to experience the love and rest God’s prompting your heart to receive!! I’m so happy for you, Bev!! I can imagine the song that’s singing in your heart, as I imagine you driving to pick up Thanksgiving dinner with God’s smile and care in your heart! May you continue to rest and experience freedom to heal and give yourself grace! Happy Thanksgiving!
Beth Williams says
Thank you soo much for you words of wisdom here today. It is important as women to care for ourselves. We tend to neglect us & worry/care for others all the time. Then we get frazzled/worn out. In the end we are no good for anyone. Women need Spiritual Whitespace in their lives. We need to stop saying yes to everyone & everything just because they asked. We in this country don’t truly know how to “Be still & know”. We can’t comprehend “loosen your grip, relax,” and “to personally experience.” Heck most women don’t have/take time to really relax & unwind. We feel we must rush on to the next thing. Accomplishing tons for God is good or so we think. You hit the nail on the head with this statement: “what if God wants our hearts more than our work? ” Profound but true. He desires a relationship with us. THe outpouring of this relationship will be genuine work to help others-not out of obligation, but done out of a love for the one who gave His all for us.
Bonnie Gray says
Love all the words of truth flowing from your heart – from one who is personally experiencing God’s voice in your heart! And yes, spiritual whitespace has changed my life and it’s wonderful to hear it in your heart too, Beth! Happy Thanksgiving!
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Bonnie, thank you so much for this much needed soul breath of fresh grace. I have had trouble pin pointing what it is I need most help with the various issues I’m dealing with that is causing the fear,guilt, a dash of bitterness,and anxiety I’m experiencing. But with those three words,I realize that is what I need to refresh my spirit so I can push through.
Thank you again and God Bless you and all your readers in your/their moments of stillness.
Bonnie Gray says
Hi beautiful Kathleen, it’s been wonderful to connect with you in our quiet online space in a way to touches your heart. You are an artist – a writer who feels deeply, so even more important you deserve all the love, grace and beauty to refill and heal all that you give out in your life – so you can feel all that God’s created you to feel and express. May you find bold ways to do what moves you and inpsires you with peace and joy – and to them hear God reassuring you He understands all the issues that may be overwhelming you. Take even more license and permission to priroitize you! hugs from CA.. Happy Thanksgiving!
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Dear Bonnie, Thank you so very much for your message of grace, validation, hope, understanding and encouragement. Your message in my inbox, is exactly what I needed to read. I’m so grateful that we have been able to meet through this wonderful site. After reading and re-reading your reply-I feel that I can open my heart and try writing again. Thank you. Sending hugs back and wishing you and your family a very Blessed Thanksgiving. I’m keeping you and your readers in my prayers. Also praying for all the people in California that have lost family members because of and all those that are affected by the fires. As well as the firefighters/first responders, and all people that are helping to bring comfort in the midst of such devastation. <3
Emily B. says
Wow, thank you so much! This is really good for me to hear. Praying that you take care of yourself, too.
Bonnie Gray says
Thanks so much, Emily! You’re such a sweet and thoughtful soul! Happy Thanksgiving, friend!
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate receiving your comforting words this morning. I have been needing to let go of feeling the guilt of not been able to over extend myself lately, and not feeling inadequate in doing so. When things change in our lives we can’t be expected to keep up in the same way we might of before. God knows this, and doesn’t expect us to, so then why should we put that expectation on ourselves- “Be still and know that I am God.”
Have a blessed day all,
Bonnie Gray says
Dear Penny, it sounds like I’m only reaffriming what your heart and soul has already been feeling from God – to give yourself permission to splurge on the grace from God’s heart to yours. You are worth loving and I hear a really big shift in your heart about what isn’t yours to carry and what’s important to God’s heart – *your* wellbeing! 🙂 xo hugs from CA to you, friend!
Julita Galleguillos says
God is so good. Thanks for the encouraging Word of God. It’s hard to “be still” in the first place, and then to realize “He is God”…WOW! I need Him more than ever for without Him I can do nothing. Amen.
Bonnie Gray says
Dear Julita, may the wonderful touch you felt this morning through this devotional continue to deepen the love and encouragement from God’s reassuring hand to your heart!! thanks for sharing! Happy Thanksgiving, friend!
Lucretia Berry says
Thank you Bonnie!
I love a good hebrew word study to bring clarity and restore potency to words so that they can prosper in their original intention.
I will “loosen my grip, relax,” and “personally experience” God’s LOVE.
So good! Thank you Bonnie!
It is helping refocus me already! 🙂
K Ann Guinn says
Wow! I guess I’ve had this tab open since late November, and here it is, New Year’s Eve! I started to read this at least once, but only finished it today.
I am looking for direction for the New Year (especially a specific word or phrase on which to focus), starting to think about goals and plans (but honestly still feeling too tired to dive in wholeheartedly), yet still trying to sneak in a few more moments of Christmas and holiday fun, rest and joy.
I am always blessed by your words and heart; it seems no matter where we’re at, we need a gentle reminder that it’s OK to care for ourselves in the midst of life. I look forward to your upcoming soul care webinar and to getting back into Whispers of Rest. Thank you for sharing this life-giving message and blessings in the new year.