How many times has a loving friend or family member told you, “you need to take care of yourself.”? I’ve heard that more times than I can even count. The funny thing is, I cannot recall a single time where that was followed up with any sort of wisdom on how I should take care of myself. So, I say, “I know” and then keep on going on with my life. It’s an endless cycle of pouring everything out of me and not taking much time to refuel. Sleep helps, yes. A well-balanced diet, probably. Most days, if I feel I need a little pick me up, my go to is a bubble bath, if I have the time. But aside from that, I really run out of ideas on self-care quickly.
Taking care of myself is imperative for my marriage. I cannot be the wife God calls me to be if I am constantly running on empty. God doesn’t want us to run on empty, He wants us to run the race well and we cannot possibly do that without self-care. I know, I know, where does scripture mention the words “self-care”. You’re probably going to quote me that love is not self-seeking or that I should not do anything with selfish ambition. (1 Corinthians 13:5, Philippians 2:3) And you’re right. But my motivation for self-care is not selfish at all. It is what I need so that I can serve God well in my life, and serve my husband well in my marriage.
I’ve written a lot about what I give to my marriage and why. To some of you, it may even sound exhausting. It is to me sometimes! That’s why I decided to get some help with my self-care habits and really take some time to pour back into myself. I want my cup to remain full so that I never run dry from pouring into my marriage. And so, I opened up a book that has simple daily practices for self-care: “A Year of Self-Care” by Dr. Zoe Shaw.
This isn’t my replacement for the Bible, but it’s definitely been added to my daily routine. Day one starts with goals. Zoe refers to finding a “purpose driven reason for your goals” and right away I was able to align my goals with my purpose: Jesus. My goals are to serve Him in my writing, my marriage, my friendships, and my life. This was an easy one, yet somehow not something I really paid much attention to before. I needed to identify my goals and the purpose behind them and then I brought that to God in prayer.
Although this book is meant to be read over the course of a year, I did skip ahead so that I would be able to review it. In this book, February is all about relationships. I’ve thought about this a lot this month mostly because February happens to be the month we got married in! Zoe’s daily practices helped me recognize that my relationship with myself directly effects my relationship with my husband. My relationship with Jesus directly reflects my relationship with myself. Seeing myself the way God sees me helps me to see my husband in the same way. This kind of self-awareness can only come from a daily practice of self-love.
Then there’s months dedicated to renewal, motivation, simplicity, boundaries, and rest, among others. There is scripture about all these topics as well. By combining what scripture says with the advice found in Zoe’s book, I have been able to better answer God’s callings without becoming overwhelmed, exhausted, or defeated.
I bet you’re wondering where this scripture is that supports self-care. One verse that has stood out to me the most when it comes to self-care can be found in 1 Corinthians 3:16. Paul writes to one of the churches that the Spirit of God lives in them. That’s right, the Holy Spirit dwells within you and me. So if we want to “go and make disciples” and “be His hands and feet”, that requires us to pour back into the world. We need to be filled up to be able to pour out. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that our body is a temple, one we must glorify God with. Taking care of our body is both biblical and a form of self-care. For me, that means cooking to eat well and time in the gym. Which leads to my next new favorite self-care practice that Zoe suggests, which is rest. Not only does Dr. Zoe Shaw tell us to rest in her book, but God also tells us to rest in His. Matthew 11:28-30 tells us exactly where we can find our rest, too. It is certainly not selfish to obey God’s Word and give yourself a break, but it is necessary. As I browsed through Zoe’s daily practices of self-care, the word “hibernate” stood out to me in December. Take some time alone. But God’s Word tells us how important community and fellowship is, right? (Matthew 18:20). It does, and it is. But alone time is equally as important. Even Jesus would “withdraw to desolate places and pray”. (Luke 5:16).
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
So, the literal words “self-care” may not be written in the Bible, but there is evidence in scripture to suggest the practice of it is certainly biblical. Now that I have began a daily habit of self-care, I have noticed the amount I am able to give to my marriage has increased. Those few minutes a day I spend on me, help me spend hours on others, my husband included. I am refreshed, renewed, confident, and energized from these daily practices. I’ve learned that self-care is so much more than just a bubble bath.
Sometimes, we need a little extra help to get going in forming new habits, or we need fresh ideas from someone who has walked before us. Dr. Zoe Shaw is the woman who walked before me in this self-care journey. She has shared her ways through her book so that many others can be served through it. Following her lead, I have found endless ways to fill myself up each day, so that I will never stop pouring out.