Cultivating Care for Christians

Recently, I read a blog post condemning “self-care” for Christians, as though self-care is negative thing for believers. Someone even went so far as to comment that she cringes when she hears Christians talk about self-care. It’s been weighing on me because I disagree, believing it to be not only beneficial, but vital to our health.

Self-care is a three-pronged approach. It includes nourishing the body, mind, and soul. Creating a daily routine that helps us to nurture each aspect is key. And when self-care is approached in the right manner, with intention, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Our physical, mental, and spiritual selves need to be tended to.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

When it comes to our physical bodies, taking time out to exercise our temples and keep them healthy is essential. For those with chronic health conditions such as myself, even five or ten minutes of walking or light stretching can be have positive benefits. And, cooking a meal with fresh whole foods that provide nutrients for our bodies is another way to care for ourselves physically. We can honor God with the choices we make when it comes to caring for our bodies, as well as our minds.

Pausing to feed our minds and souls daily with God’s Word is also critical, as is sitting with Jesus and meditating on His word. We need His food on a daily basis to not only sustain us, but to thrive. This is how he prunes us and allows fruit to grow in our lives, helping us to blossom into healthier selves.

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. -John 6:35

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” -Matthew 4:4

In order to flourish, we need balance, which means we need to take time to enjoy life and not just work. God wants us to delight in our lives. This means we can take time out of our day to partake in a hobby that is fun and that we find enjoyable, without letting all the “should’s” take over. I should be doing __________________ (fill in the blank) instead. That hobby may be gardening, fishing, or it may be something artistic.

So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 8:15

For some, creativity as self-care can be a challenge. It can get pushed aside or blocked for a number of reasons. This is something I personally struggle with. If being creative lights your fire, making time to create without guilt is crucial. Our God is a creative God who created the universe, and we are made in His image. Creativity is an excellent form of self-care and self-expression that can be used to rejuvenate and incite passion that can then be used to glorify God. The word “created” is used three times just in this one Bible verse alone:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27

It seems that maybe it’s the “self” part of self-care that is the concern of some, however, self-care doesn’t need to be all about us. In fact, it should include God because He desires a relationship with us and for us to us to dwell in His presence. We can take care of ourselves, while being in tune with God as we engage in those activities. And if we are intentional, sharing space with God while doing self-care, we can grow in our relationship with Him at the same time! So, let’s find ways to nurture each part of us, while making sure to include God each step of the way. Taking care of and loving ourselves, not only refreshes us, but it helps us to love and better serve others.

And because I’m a lover of lists, I’ve provided you with a free printable so you can start a daily self-care routine with God.

5 Things I’m Learning in a Season of Monotony

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. -Ecclesiastes 5:18

The monotony of the days have been taking their toll lately and I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated and irritable. Like painting with those messy Crayola watercolor paints. One color runs into the next in the plastic, oblong case, and, in no time, there’s a muddied mess. This can happen when we don’t find satisfaction in the day to day work God has given us. The resentments build, anger and frustrations arise, covering up and muddying the beautiful fruits underneath that He’s trying to sprout in us. If we aren’t careful and paying attention, these can also conceal the many blessings He has given us. Just like the muddied watercolors, underneath each puddle are vivid colors, we just have to clear away the muddy mess to see them. God taught me five things recently about finding color in my life in a season of monotony:

1. See the good

While in Ecclesiastes, He spoke: find satisfaction in work. This doesn’t mean I’m supposed to turn work into an idol. What He meant by this was to find enjoyment in the work that I have been given during this season of life, rather than grumble my way through it. On my YouVersion Bible app, another translation stated find enjoyment in his toil and when I clicked on the word enjoyment, it further stated or make his soul see good. One way we can see good, is by counting our blessings daily. And, instead of seeing our daily tasks as just tasks, we can think about what good will come from accomplishing them, whether in the short-term or long-term. This brings us the second thing I learned about how to see good.

2. Start the day with “I get to”

On Instagram, Dr. Caroline Leaf posted about beginning each day with an “I get to” mentality, rather than “I have to”. I get to wake up and teach my girls at home, I get to wash dishes for my family, I get to prepare and cook for my husband and our daughters. Not everyone gets to do these. When we change our perspective and reframe our thoughts from “I have to”, to “I get to”, we can see the colors for what they are-bold and beautiful blessings that can wash away the dark and dreary.

3. Get creative and cultivate more joy

As far as enjoyment goes, when I asked God how to find satisfaction in my work, this popped into my mind: get creative. Creativity calms me and brings me joy. We can use our creativity by mixing up those mundane tasks and making them fun. How? Here are some ideas that occurred to me:

Tired of…

  1. Making dinner? Why not involve the family and have a dinner dance party. Grab a cooking utensil as your microphone, crank the tunes, and break out your best moves in between meal prep and cooking tasks. And if you live alone? Who says you can’t cut a rug to your favorite jams too?
  2. Homeschooling? Add some simple arts and crafts projects to your week or interrupt a day here or there with impromptu nature walks, scavenger hunts and photography challenges.
  3. Cleaning? Have at it with cleaning karaoke-80’s style. Choose your favorite hits and clean through two songs, karaoke through one, clean through two, karaoke through one and so on-or if the whole family is cleaning, the songs can be divided up and rotated through. If it’s not your song, clean. When your song comes on, belt out your number.
  4. Meal prep? Why not create some new meals? And if you aren’t super confident in the kitchen, start small. Alter recipes by adding new ingredients or experiment with new spices.

Yes, some of these may sound silly, but why not? Life is supposed to be enjoyed.

4. Embrace the mundane with a cheerful heart and glorify Him

Not only do I need to worship God in the wilderness, like He’s been showing me lately, but by embracing this season of monotony and doing the work He’s set before me with a cheerful heart, trusting Him with the season and tasks He’s given me, and doing it for Him, I’m glorifying Him in the process. This is a form of worship.

5. Be eager to work for the Lord

As I was reading in the Word tonight in Exodus, the words eager to help in the work the Lord had given stood out so I circled them. And on the next page, eager to get to work leapt off the page. He was telling me that I need to be eager to do the work He has given me. According to macmillandictionary.com, eager is defined as: very enthusiastic about doing something…So, in other words, I need to get intensely excited about working for the Lord. He chose this work for me and rather than just seeing these as dull repetitive duties to be completed, I need to see them as the Lord’s work and be be eager to do His work.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. -Colossians 3:23-24