Monday, November 4, 2019

Are Self-Care and Soul-Care Mutually Exclusive?

Hey Friend,

There seems to be an ever increasing debate as to whether we need self-care or soul-care?  I thought I'd add my two cents to the discussion.

Our long weekend in Pittsburgh was fun-filled and fast paced.  First stop, my MIL's place.  We combined catching up with her with a wonderful walkabout of the city that we love.  

The next day, we headed up the highway to visit my college alma mater and I gave my hubby a tour of my old stomping grounds.

Day three had us getting ready for a 40th high school reunion.  "Hey, I sat beside you in Algebra...Do you remember the time when?"...conversation...catching up...laughter...condolences...lots of good to see you my good friend.

Next day church and lunch with all the cousins.  

Home. Exhausted. No words left.  Desperately needing God's word.  Earnestly seeking my own comfortable bed.

I hadn't had my daily quiet time with God for five days.  I missed Him.  I needed the refueling from His word.  But first, I needed sleep.  I needed the self-care of sleep before I could even concentrate on the soul-care of His word.  

I believe that God understands that we need basic self-care in order to pursue soul-care.  Sleep, good nutrition, shelter, exercise.  Do we need a massage and a mani-pedi first?  Probably not.  Are massages and manicures evil.  No, I don't think so.

I think the whole debate comes down to:  What or Who are we seeking first?

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.  (Matthew 6:33)

Signs that self-care is all about YOU:  You are the controller of your destiny and your happiness.  The whole "self-care" industry would love to have you buy in to the notion, that it IS all about YOU.  You deserve to be pampered; you deserve to have your needs met. You NEED all this in order to survive.

Is your desire to be healthy and maintain a temple fit for the indwelling of the Spirit, or are you more concerned about your pant size and how you look to others?

Is your pursuit devaluing the image of God within you? Do your pursuits of the "ideal" keep you from being content with who and how God has made you?

Does you pursuit of self-care look more like beauty appointments and vain pursuits that distract you from the work God would have you be doing?  

If your answer, to these questions, is "Yes" then perhaps "self-care" has become an idol in your life.

Soul-care, on the other hand, centers on GOD as the source of your strength and being able to "make it" through life.  The self-care movement centers on YOU being that source.  Big difference.

While self-care and soul-care call us to respect our limits and rest, the motives are very different.

Self-care:  Calls us to respect our limits and rest as a means to replenish and protect OUR reservoir of comfort, happiness, and mental peace.  It's a recognition that the world is not safe and that one must look out for oneself as a means for survival.

Soul-care:  Calls us to respect our limits and rest as a means to worship the One who exists without limits.  It's a recognition that our strength to live in the world, with all it's demands and pain, comes from the Lord. 

I have always struggled with my weight and have tried every "diet" known to man.  The problem was, my motivation was all wrong.  Yes, I wanted to look better and feel better, but the motivation was all about me.  "Me" wanted to fit into a smaller dress size.

It wasn't until I was diagnosed as being pre-diabetic and the Dr. told me, "50% of those who are pre-diabetic will have full blown diabetes within five years."  This jolted me to my senses.  I realized I was not taking good enough care of the temple God had given me and I was not thinking of my husband and family who may want to have a healthy me around for many more years.

Also as one who struggles with anxiety, is a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), tends toward people-pleasing, and am an introvert at my core, I have had a bad habit of relationally and emotionally overextending myself.  

God calls us to live our lives "sacrificially" - serving others, but, get this, He DOES NOT ask us to do it to the detriment of our spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental well being.  

Self-care is not only okay, but necessary - so long as "Self" does not become your master.

Soul-care is paramount, but cannot be done without taking care of basic needs.  

When in doubt, turn back to the greatest commandment:

"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 you love yourself."  (Mark 12: 30-31)

Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last...J-O-Y...a great prescription for self-care and soul-care.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you that you care about ALL my needs.  You are the ultimate provider of everything that I need.  Help me to check my motives in order to determine priorities in my life.  Give me the desire to seek first YOUR kingdom, knowing that you will take care of the rest.  Let your word and not my own selfishness be master of my life.  Thank you for the Sabbath rest you command me to enjoy - let me take this precept seriously.  Sustain me, Lord, so that I can be about doing Your will.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Do you tend to over-extend yourself?  Is God calling you to self-care, soul-care, or both?  What are your thoughts on self-care vs. soul-care?  Will you share?

Be blessed....

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