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