Our preacher shared some very wise observations last week in his message, as he usually does. Even though he wasn’t primarily preaching on the concept of Sabbath, he mentioned it as part of his larger picture, and it seemed to dovetail beautifully with my recent focus on self-care.
He said (I’m paraphrasing):
“The idea behind Sabbath is to stop – simply because it’s time to stop. Each of us must carve out Sabbath in our own lives. It doesn’t have to be Judaism’s sundown-to-sundown, nor the 1950’s Blue Laws either. It just has to be a time when – no matter what – we will be with God.”
…which made me think: taking a Sabbath rest is a critical component of self-care.
When we slow down, take a break from our labor, listen to God’s Word and His Spirit, pray or meditate – we center ourselves. We remember to care for our soul. Since it doesn’t feel hunger pains the same way as our stomachs, it’s easier to neglect to feed a soul. Since it neither atrophies nor plumps up before our eyes like our muscles, it’s easier to forget to exercise a soul. But it’s still vital for us to care for our spirit.
In my last post, I only mentioned spiritual self-care briefly. Today, I thought I should offer some suggestions to that end.
Is your spirit parched, mama? Is your soul hungry? Sit yourself down, and be nourished.
- Prayer. You know, talking to God can take so many different forms. Those “popcorn” prayers you toss up all day long – repeating something written centuries ago – jotting your needs in a journal – praying both for people you know and strangers you see in your day-to-day. In some seasons of my life, I’ve found it really hard to pray for myself, but that’s when I can usually still pray over other people.
- God’s Word. You can go old-school: grab your Bible, flip it open, point to a verse at random, and read that for the day. Or you can go artsy and get a journaling/art Bible. If you’ve always got your phone nearby anyway, there’s an app for that – you can sign up for a devotion series and your phone will ‘ding’ you a notification reminder to log in and read the daily selection. Whatever it takes to fit your life – there is certainly a way to focus on God’s Words to you. (Remember, dear heart: your relationship with God is a relationship in every sense of the word. God loves to hear from you in prayer, but you also need to listen to Him and listen for Him. Can you imagine if you had a friend who ran into the room, talked non-stop for ten minutes, and ran back out – every time you saw her? I’m guessing that you would soon know all about her – but she wouldn’t know you very well. Listening to God through His Word is vital to a deepening relationship with Him.)
- Meditation. Maybe it’s only two minutes to start with, but that’s okay. If you’re in one of those phases with very young children or lots of plates spinning in the air, two minutes out of your day is a lot. Have you heard the story of Susanna Wesley? She was the mother of John and Charles Wesley – the founders of the Methodist tradition – as well as 17 other children (nine of whom died in infancy). Apparently, Susanna taught her children that when they saw mother with her apron covering her head, they were not to disturb her because she was praying. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could teach our littles that a certain sign or symbol meant “Mom’s meditating – do not disturb”?
- Music. Maybe it’s hymns, maybe it’s modern worship music, maybe it’s classical compositions. Maybe, like a pal of mine, you feel the spirit of the Lord when you listen to the Indigo Girls. I believe music is a gift from God, and finding the tunes that soothe your soul can be an easy way to make spiritual self-care part of your everyday experience.
- A Sunday afternoon nap. Yes, seriously. Have you managed to take a Sunday nap lately? There is something mystically restorative about a nap on Sunday. It leaves me feeling twice as rested as it possibly could any other day of the week. I can’t do it every week, but whenever possible I’ve started trying to give myself permission to take Sunday naps. It’s a blessing I can’t quite explain.
- Service. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: you’re already tired, you do a hundred things a week, and now I’m suggesting you do more WORK? How is that restful and restorative? I’ll tell you: it’s a holy mystery and I don’t understand it fully myself. (Caution: if you are a people-pleaser at heart, or if your personality type struggles to say no, you’ll need to exercise heaping helpings of caution and discernment here. It’s easy to do too much in the name of service and end up burned out.) But each of us is wired for service. Each of us is gifted in unique ways to serve people around us. Some of us are well-equipped for ministry – we can serve the people of God within the global church. Some of us are designed for mission – serving the people of the world who don’t know God yet. When you choose to serve, there is something energizing and invigorating that occurs. Even as you pour out your energy and time, you are filled in a deeper way.
What makes your list for spiritual self-care? I’d love to know what works for you. Comment, tweet me, or tag me on IG.