Do you ever feel like there’s this unspoken competition of who can do the most, pack their calendars the fullest, make the best dinners, pack the healthiest lunches, exercise the most…? The list goes on and on, and I’m tired just thinking about it!
Seriously, it’s exactly like when I ride my indoor bike. See, I have a knock-off bike, but I still use the Peloton app. Everyone who has a real Peloton bike has a leaderboard, and they can ride faster and harder to rise in the ranks. Since I don’t have a Peloton, I can’t even see the leaderboard.
Sometimes life feels just like that – that there’s some life leaderboard somewhere that everyone is vying for the top spot. But, just like my bike, I can’t see the leaderboard.
Newsflash- there is NO life leaderboard.
The main point I want to drive home today in our short time together is this: If you want to do your best, you have to learn to rest.
Today we’ll learn:
- How Jesus modeled this principle for us
- Why self care isn’t selfish
- How filling up your cup really is a sign of strength
- Steps you can take right now to prioritize yourself
I absolutely LOVE how Jesus modeled stepping away from the crowds to be alone and to connect with God. There are so many examples in the Bible of Jesus taking time away in a quiet place to be with God. And those are obviously just the times that were recorded.
Mark 1:35 says “ And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
And in Luke 5:15-16: “But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
There are so many moments like this in the Bible, and usually surrounding particularly important events. He went off to pray by himself after he chose his 12 disciples, after he heard that John the Baptist was killed, and before his own crucifixion.
Jesus clearly modeled for us the concept that you first have to fill up your own cup before overflowing to others.
It’s just like on an airplane. Do you use all of your own strength (and oxygen) to help your child put on their mask? Of course not. Every time you get on a plane, the flight attendant tells you in the safety talk to put your own mask on before assisting others. If you run out of oxygen, you can’t help others, you can’t help yourself, and, quite frankly, you die.
Did you read the old children’s story “The Little Engine That Could”? when you were little like I did? This precious little train full of tows for the little girls and boys across the mountain just HAD to get to his destination and fulfill his mission. He tried and he tried, and guess what? He made it.
Can you imagine if the story said “He tried so hard that he really outdid himself. His intentions were good, but he straight ran out of coal. Now he’s stranded on the mountain and none of the little boys or girls will get their presents.” Of course not! The story told in that way is inconceivable.
Even though we have so many examples of “What goes in is what comes out,” for some reason when it’s referring to ourselves, we don’t get it.
I think this misconception comes from two incorrect beliefs. We tend to believe that:
1) Self care is selfish
2) Running ourselves to the ground is HOLY, and
Let’s talk first about this belief that self care is selfish. Let’s define both of those terms.
Self-care is defined as:
- the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.
- the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
While Self·ish is defined as:
- (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
What I love about the definition of self care is that word preserve. To me, it’s like the writer of this definition knows that our own health and wellness has to be fiercely protected. It is something that has to be preserved. The second definition they offer talks about taking an active role in protecting (there it is again!) your own well-being. If WE aren’t actively preserving our own health and wellness, no one else will.
Let me say that again: If WE aren’t actively preserving our own health and wellness, no one else will. The distinction here between “self care” and “selfish” is that being selfish means you are ONLY concerned with yourself. I believe self care is so crucial not as the end all be all. You don’t take care of yourself only for yourself. You take care of yourself as the catalyst for being able to adequately care for others.
Let’s think of examples when you’re thinking about and prioritizing yourself that wouldn’t be considered selfish. Eating. You will quickly learn that I am always thinking about food! Imagine if you hopped on the phone with a friend, and she asked you what you had for breakfast. You told her you had eggs, bacon, and some avocado toast. Can you even imagine a world in which she responds “What? Oh my gosh I can’t believe you would eat breakfast. What a selfish use of your time.” Absolutely not! Eating food, drinking water, sleeping, and bathing. These are all things that we think of as “necessary.” We HAVE to have these things for our bodies to continue functioning (or to be acceptable in society), so no one questions their necessity in our lives.
But, honestly, anything above and beyond these basics I’ve heard considered “lavish” or selfish. A long bath with essential oils? A face mask? Heading to a coffee shop by yourself to read or journal? “Wow, that’s too extravagant.”
But really, it’s not. The basics we can all agree on. The elements needed to keep our physical bodies alive are universal. But what it takes to keep our SOULS alive is unique and totally personal to you. (More on this at the end!)
Since we’ve really been trained to think that self care is selfish, any time we read Bible verses talking about selfishness as a sin, we think they apply to self care.
What that has developed in us is the belief that not only is self care selfish, but completely wearing ourselves out is HOLY. The word holy means “ dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred.” We actually think that ONLY prioritizing loving and serving others, and not ourselves, is our calling from God.
If you haven’t personally experienced this bizarre phenomenon, haven’t you witnessed it? When I was talking about this concept on social media, I had a follower reach out. She said that she was a missionary in Africa. She had something mysteriously wrong with her. Her health was rapidly declining without answers, but her missionary organization and her team leaders wouldn’t let her go to the doctor, saying it was unnecessary and selfish. She literally had to QUIT being a missionary in order to move back to the states to take care of her health.
Friends, it is NOT an either or. You don’t have to choose if you love and take care of yourself or you love and take care of others. It’s a both and. You HAVE to love and take care of yourself in order to love and take care of others.
Remember at the beginning, I said “ If you want to do your best, you have to learn to rest”?
We often don’t STOP enough. We’re like cars, set on cruise control at 100 miles an hour. The reason I love teaching women about self care is it’s an opportunity to rest. Almost all of the things I think of that fall under the self care umbrella force us to take a break.
One of the things we’ve been talking about lately in MOPS is strength. MOPS asked me to talk about this topic because prioritizing your health and wellness really is a sign of strength. It takes strength and determination to go against the status quo. To question what others around you believe to be true and start running down a path of uncharted territory. To wake up every single day and do the things, the hard things, that make you feel your best. To stick to your routines and habits you’ve created.
Making the mindset shift that taking care of yourself is not only ok, but completely necessary is HARD. It may take some time. You may have to work through some guilt when you start taking time to do things for YOU. Trust me, this belief that self care is selfish is strategic. It keeps us women DOWN. The enemy won’t like that you’ve changed your mind. That you’re starting to fill up your cup. Do you know why he doesn’t like that? Because he knows what you’re capable of at your fullest capacity, and he’s SCARED.
So here is your permission slip to take time for YOU. No, you don’t need it. But sometimes all that’s waiting between us and the next best decision is someone telling you you CAN.
Now that we feel like we can prioritize ourselves, what does that even look like? Like I mentioned earlier, this is totally up to you!
What does it look like for me? In the mornings, I love waking up early and hopping on that off-brand indoor bike I told you about. Or sometimes it’s yoga. I do something that gets my heart pumping and my body moving. Then my husband and I make french press coffee and read our Bibles and have our quiet times. I try to squeeze all of that in before my work day starts. During the day it looks like giving my body food that’s both delicious and nourishes me. Food that I know makes me feel my best. Sometimes it means a bike ride with the kiddos after school. Or a dance party. After the kids go to bed it looks like a long bath, a lot of times with a facemask on. Just because it’s self care doesn’t mean I can’t multitask! I love talking to my husband about my worries and my dreams. It always means a TON of sleep.
Guess what? This may sound TERRIBLE to you, and that’s ok. This is personal for a reason. What fills up my cup will not be what fills up yours.
If you head over to my website, carolinefausel.com, you will find a resource to help you on your new path of self care. I have a “Self Love List” where you get to fill out what brings YOU joy and fills your cup. Think of it like a journal prompt, plus checklist. My hope is that it helps you form daily habits that will transform your life.
I would love to see your Self Love Lists- print it out and tag me @caroline.fausel! MOPS, thank you so much for having me. I will see you next time!