In Part 1 of this post, I addressed the ditches we can slip into regarding the topic of self-care. While both ditches focus on ourselves rather than the Lord, they will yield nothing more than bitterness and temporary self-glorification.
Since I’m talking a lot about the second ditch of elevating self-care, please let me caution you not to return to the first ditch and dismiss attempts to rise before your family as fruitless. How are we to pursue our duties as Christian women in a God-glorifying manner? Well, let’s look at the Proverbs 31 woman for some guidance on how to walk the middle of this road.
Proverbs 31:15 says,
“She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.”
We have a duty to take care of our homes, and as the Proverbs woman portrays, it’s good for us to pursue the principles mentioned in this chapter. This should be the reflection of a hard-working woman who desires to glorify God in her duties. I’m not advocating laziness or sluggishness. So if you tend toward that ditch, get up out of it and get to work. However, the ultimate secret to doing your role of being a faithful Christian woman well is not found in a self-care routine. It’s found in Jesus. Only Jesus. Recall that wonderful old hymn: Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.
If we are pursuing Jesus, then we will be anything but lazy. We will seek to rise early, to spend time in scripture, and to get to work emulating what we learn about Christ there. A greater knowledge, understanding and love for Christ should turn into worship through our daily living.
Friend, you have been given a duty to do. It is not the role of God, so don’t fall into that ditch of thinking it all depends on you. But neither is it the role of self-preservation above all else. Contrary to your Instagram newsfeed, you can glorify God and serve others well without the daily idyllic mountain top experience of solitude or coffee with girlfriends. Those moments are gifts and are wonderful when we get them, but our daily duty does not depend on those. Our daily duty depends on finding our joy and sufficiency in Christ alone. And he shows up and is with us during the early morning feedings, the sick children, the submission to husbands, the unglamorous but faithful workings of our every day lives.
Now, is it wrong to want the routines of self-care that are often advocated on social media? Not necessarily, but let me offer an alternative route to seeking rest. Talk to your husband and share your struggle. Ask for his advice on how to handle your stress, and follow his wisdom. For example, he may offer to take the kids one Saturday morning so you can have a break (which may or may not become a weekly routine). But don’t come to him with this expectation – ask for his guidance and then trust it when he gives it. Trusting him is trusting the Lord, so begin there!
This humble and submissive posture hopefully yields a much healthier approach than demanding expectations from your family, which I feel can often be the tendency once we see these social media ideals for self-care. These expectations and demands often lead to bitterness that we direct towards usually our spouse or children when life happens and others don’t make us a priority like we feel they should. I’ve been there. I made demands and declared, “I have to have this!” But what was the result? A bitter heart, an aggravated husband, and children who wonder when mom is going to be happy again.
Do we see the problem with this? We’ve elevated one thing to the top, and it’s become our idol. What is that idol?
What does scripture have to say about this? Let’s see what example we find in Christ, who had every right to put himself first, but chose a life of servitude:
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:1-11, ESV).
Contrary to popular culture, I am not the ultimate goal. I am not what matters most. I am not who I need to put first. As our church has been learning through the study of Matthew, Jesus came and flipped cultural values upside down.
“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Matthew 20:26-28).
Take some time and read the whole section of about the woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31. This woman is not lazy. She’s not idle. And she’s also not described as maintaining and demanding a daily self-care routine. She’s busy, but with joy. She’s diligent and laughs at the time to come. How?
Verse 30 tells us. She fears the Lord.
This is the secret!
Get in the Word and know Jesus more. This you can do whether you’re alone or not, whether you’re drinking coffee or not, whether you’re taking a bubble bath or not, whether you have frequent meetups with girlfriends or not.
Get in the word and then do your duty to serve others like Jesus did. Get to know him and then emulate him in your every day life. Thank him for the moments that could be labeled self-care, but don’t depend on them. Depend on Jesus. Fight the urge to focus on yourself and instead get to work doing your duty, while resting in Christ every step of the way.
Self-care is not sufficient, nor is it ultimate. Jesus is. Turn your eyes upon him, and get to work.