By Sarah Frazer, Crosswalk.com
As we left the kids with my parents, I felt a sense of relief. The burden of mothering was lifted off of my shoulders. My husband and I were going out of town without the kids. Freedom!
We giggled like newlyweds as we drove off. We spent our vacation sleeping in, relaxing by the pool, and talking with no interruptions. I didn’t have to cut up food or get five other plates ready before sitting down to my own meal.
When we wanted to just sit, we could just close our eyes and enjoyed the quiet.
But that’s not my regular life. Parenting is not for the faint of heart; whether you’re new to it, or a pro. It doesn’t matter if you have one kid or five...it’s hard.
Endless meal prep, dirty clothes, and decisions can make us feel used up. All we want is an escape. Without intention, we turn to social media or screening for momentary relief.
However, there is an ultimate source of relief that we can see in Psalm 23.
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Where is the Time for Self-Care?
When I think about self-care, I get mixed emotions. At one point in my life I would have been in the camp that says: Oh yes! Take every bit of time you need to refresh, recharge, and regroup. Get away, and find what you love to do.
Only in the most recent months have I felt the tension between self-sacrifice and self-care.
In my duties now as a wife and full-time homeschooling mom has shifted my priorities. Instead of spending hours at the gym, I need to spend time planning our school curriculum. Taking every Saturday morning to myself to go and write has been replaced with family bonding at home.
I’m still a proponent of getting away and finding some time to refresh, but I’ve also realized is it is not up to me to truly refresh my soul. Finding a temporary passion outside my home or away from my responsibilities will not give me abiding, true rest.
Where Can I Find True Self-Care?
True rest will only come in communion with my Shepherd. Only God can fill those needs I have.
The soul-deep, and even physical cares of your life is not found in yourself alone. In fact, we will never be able to care for ourselves fully on our own. Instead, you trust the Shepherd-care for you. Your Lord and Savior, your Shepherd, knows you better than you know yourself. Can you trust that He can fill your deepest longings and give your lives full purpose?
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How Psalm 23 Talks About Self-Care
Each verse of Psalm 23 reveals a way that God replaces your own feeble attempts at self-care apart from Him, to how He cares for us as our Shepherd.
All of your needs will be met. Every single one. Don’t think you have to look anywhere else to find your needs. You won’t. No need will go unmet.
God is leading you (and sometimes He has to make you), but rest will come when you submit to His leadership. Don’t think you have to plan or manipulate your schedule without consulting Him. Trust God to lead and guide you, even throughout the day.
I used to think: if I could just get away for a few days I’d feel better and rest. But have you ever been on vacation and felt more tired coming home? God’s rest is not something we strive for when we “get away.” His rest is for us in the mess of the middle of our lives.
What is your greatest fear? Death is the ultimate equalizer and let’s be honest, our most powerful enemy. So whatever we fear, God says he will walk through it with us. Even death itself will not be faced alone by the believer.
Many times we feel like we have to “protect” our time. But what if God is caring for us by showing us people in our life we are meant to serve? I get frustrated when my children wake up early and I don’t have quiet time to myself. But instead of trying to protect my time, I choose to believe God will once again give me what I need throughout my day.
Goodness and mercy is not up to me. Self-care is not something to strive for, but to trust to the Shepherd’s care. Listen to your body’s aches and whispers, and ask God to open up time for restoration. To convict you to be present to what’s best. Only in humility, trust, and dependence on Him will each of us fill our lives with the goodness we crave.
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More Than Just a Vacation
I know this is a different point of view on self-care, and it’s not to diminish its importance. I just want to encourage you that when you feel that your care is entirely up to you, and requires no leaning on, or faith in, a God who is stronger than you, remember He makes you lie down in green pastures. Don’t forget the Shepherd cares for you so deeply that you can fully trust Him, no matter your season of life.
Finding time to ourselves is important, but it can also become another ravenous idol we can’t satisfy. Refreshing moments away from our children are a necessity, but it shouldn’t end there.
Until I began to put Jesus first, the over-working, and focus on the food and things in my life became an idol for my empty heart. It’s easy to put aside the dishes, laundry, and daily responsibilities, and feel like it’s pointless and doesn’t serve our self-care.
It’s not easy to take up our cross and follow Christ.
Service Can Also Fill You
Parenting is about service. When my heart is rooted in Jesus, I can serve with open hands. I can fold and put away each load of laundry with joy knowing I’m providing a clean house for my sweet little ones.
The meals I cook may not be appreciated, but I’m feeding them with more than physical nourishment. I’m showing my boys how to provide and my girls how to serve.
It’s normal, while serving in any capacity, to feel this tension between self-sacrifice and self-care.
My children who need me to pour their drinks for them don’t worry whether I will give them something for their thirst. In this way, set your empty cup before the Lord, expecting Him to refill it.
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Practical Ways to Find Self-Care When Life is Busy
1. Come to God
Your life will not find rest without God. We find rest when we come to Jesus. Delight yourself in Him. Find rest when you come to Him.
2. Confess Sin
One of the reasons I can feel anxious is because I have unconfessed sin in my life. Be quick to confess and find rest in confession.
3. Embrace Contentment
When I think about those around me who are at rest, I see contentment. Contentment in their possessions, relationships, and circumstances. A deep sense of peace and joy follow those who are content.
4. Practice Saying No
Seasons come and go for when we say “yes” to certain things. If you find yourself spent and exhausted saying “yes” to everyone and every situation, give the load to God in prayer, and then say ‘no’ to the things that are more than you can handle. Those who learn to say “No” or “Not right now” find rest.
5. Concentrate on the Eternal
Only two things last forever: (1) God’s Word, and (2) People. Fixing our eyes on these two things will keep our hearts at rest. Invest in people. Invest in spreading God’s Word. It will be the only two things following us to Glory.
6. Remain Confident in the Future
Remember who has your heart. Remember who holds your life in His hands. Keep your heart focused not on the unknown of the future, but on the One who holds the future. Rest in confidence, because our God truly is enough.
Sarah Frazer is a writer and Bible study mentor at sarahefrazer.com. She is the wife of Jason and mother of five. Although she serves in her local church, holds in-home Bible studies, and is preparing to be a full-time missionary to Honduras, her passion is to encourage women fall in love with the Bible. Sarah is also an author of several self-published resources for women. She shares tools for deep-rooted Bible study at sarahefrazer.com. Follow her on Instagram.
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