Self Care Shenanigans

“Lets talk like Christians. Lets talk about fellowship and rest. Let’s talk about serving God and others. Let’s talk about thinking others are more important than yourself. Your time in the Word is not self-care, it is obedience. Having a coffee is not self-care, it is something to thank God for. The selfish bus is going to hell, and it is driving there fast, why would we want to be on it at all? ” Rachel Jankovic

It’s all the rage lately, the self-care phenomenon has been in full-force since the new year. Everywhere I go, I am encouraged to take a moment for myself, be mindful of what is stressing me out, and simply turn to something that makes me feel better about it all. This bag here was at Target, reminding me to love myself more. It’s not a new craze, but it seems to be really taking off lately. From living minimalist to blowing bubbles in the park, the universe (or the savvy marketers) want me to get hold of some awesome me-time. Here’s a helpful little list from some scholarly people at the University of Buffalo in case you need some ideas.

Such mindfulness! After you’ve listened to the cat purr, planted a flower, and/or walked a labyrinth… do you feel better? If not, you need to up the workout routine and drink more water, obviously. The anxiety has disappeared. Or not.

Hold on, you say… there’s nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves!

Mark 12:30-31 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Notice the often overlooked part of that verse… love your neighbor as yourself. We already love ourselves pretty well I’d say. We are born loving ourselves. God wants us to value ourselves, we are His creation!

Ephesians 5:29 says, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…”

None of us need to “practice” loving ourselves as they say. We value, nourish and cherish ourselves as His creation, but we certainly don’t need any more help looking inward.

So what is wrong with a little self-care? The entire movement is an experiment in mindlessness. Do yoga, watch a candle burn or whatever else is on that list and feel better for a minute because you are focused on that particular thing. Taking a hike usually makes me feel better. So does eating a cake-pop. Life has little pleasures that are meant to be enjoyed (without guilt by the way) and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But to look out onto the sunrise with no acknowledgement of it’s Creator? To worship and obsess over my aging body without remembering Who made me and numbers my days? Futile. Sad, actually.

I honestly believe the world has turned everything into an inward-pointing exercise and is discovering there’s not much “in there” to get very excited about. Social media leaves us empty and longing. Drugs and alcohol hold things off for just a little while and wear off. We’ve minimized our pantry and gotten rid of things that don’t ‘bring us joy’. In the name of freedom, we’ve banished all rules moral codes that held us back from enjoying our own lives. So now we try the self-care thing and see where that will take us.

But Jesus took time for Himself! Indeed He did. But not in the way the Target bag suggests.

Jesus took time to be alone with the Father, for sure, but it wasn’t under the silly guise of “self-care”… it was because He knew His very life-source was in something outside of Himself. He looked up, not in. We go to the Father because nothing in this world can fill us but Him.

The worship of self is a dead-end street. Looking inward and living for self is one of the most futile and vapid things we could possibly do. I feel like the more the world realizes this, the more rabid they get about chasing it: when one thing doesn’t work, it’s on to the next. Now we need bags and mugs and shirts to remind us that we need to love ourselves more? Ick.

No thanks. The human definition of fulfillment is not God’s. If the thought of being ’empty’ scares you, the worst thing you can do is try and fill your own cup. We don’t share a moral compass with a “me first” world, so to glean self-care tips and tricks from them is a recipe for disaster. I for one, refuse to take my cues from a bunch of people whose morality changes according to the latest political fad.

God’s kingdom works backwards from all that. When Jesus fills us up, we have an endless river of Living Water to pour out onto others. We don’t need to obsess over where our next fix is coming from. As we understand the treasure we are in His eyes, our self-care routing becomes so much bigger than our own fulfillment.

Psalm 115 talks about the ways in which we become like what we worship. The idol-maker worshipped his idols, the work of his own hands. If we just look inward at our own sinful and flawed selves, we will become more sinful and flawed. How exhausting. Love who you are in Christ, but don’t fall into self-worship.

It’s ok to talk like a Christian. We need to think like Christians too. We are new creations, image bearers of the Living God. We can love ourselves while keeping the worship on God where it belongs.

We have to get God’s words ingrained on our hearts, because the inspirational quotes are out there… and they are coming for all of us. 🙂

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