Why Our Souls Need More than #Selfcare...
Every time I hear about “self care,” a picture of a pioneer woman comes to mind. Not kidding. Often it’s Mrs. Ingalls. (Any other Little House on the Prairie fans out there?!). I imagine how much she would have liked to set down her laundry she had been doing BY HAND and go get a pedicure and a latte. If anyone deserved to do so, she did.
I have been wrestling with the way we define “self care.” Maybe it’s just me, but the message I am hearing is, “Go. Take some time for you. You deserve it.” At first glance I want to nod my head right along, grab my keys and head for the nearest caffeinated establishment while I pat myself on the back, because I deserve it. Yet, something about this response doesn’t sit well with me. I think we are missing the point and by missing it we are doing more damage to ourselves in the long run.
The term “self care” has been on the rise in the last few years, however, the idea is not a new one. For centuries people have been working to better themselves. Benjamin Franklin kept a strict account of the character traits he needed to improve upon, often recording his progress. Unlike Mr. Franklin, I am afraid we are redefining self care as a free pass for self indulgence. In our craving to be cared for we are searching out things or people who give a superficial satisfaction while our souls are suffering a thirst for more. We are looking to satisfy a drought with a dribble. This will never suffice.
Search #selfcare on Instagram and you will see over 7 million posts of people longing for something. The feed consists of tonics and tips and things to acquire. If we look past the products we see real people in great need of gentleness, rest, and restoration. The posts prove that the pace of our daily lives and the smorgasbord of quick fixes offered, mask the truth and keeps us distracted from what is really going on inside of us.
So what do we do?
I am not a professional but a student and fellow sufferer of such things. In my studies and self reflections I have learned that more sugar, caffeine, and “me time” never satiates for long. Nope. A pedicure helps, for sure, but my soul still aches. Here are three things I have learned that lend themselves to caring for a soul:
1- Cancel Something
Seriously. Open up your calendar and take a good look at all you have attempted to pack into the next seven days. Swallow your pride and make a phone call, send a text. Create some space and some margin. This is hard. I know. So if you need permission let me give it to you. This may be the kindest thing you can do for your soul, and in turn for those you will influence this week.
2 - Seek out Solitude
This is different than isolation. I am not talking about shutting everyone out and wallowing in your misery. Solitude is choosing to set some time aside to reflect, to pray, to meditate of what is true and good and lovely. In my life this can be as simple as a longer than normal shower or going for a walk. Take that space created by cancelling something and be strategic with it. Don’t fill your space with meaningless activity. Find something beautiful to look at and relish in the quiet.
3 - Go to Bed Early
This is hard with all the curve balls a day or your people can throw at you. However, there is so much research on the benefit of a good night’s sleep. The best care for our souls for some of us is to allow our bodies to rest. This may take some planning, even some failing and trying again, but if Jesus needed rest as a human on this earth, so do we. Tuck yourself in, friend and get some much needed shut eye.
As August unfolds my prayer for us is that we might all wrestle with what it looks like to care for ourselves. May we dig deeper, turn from destructive habits, create margin so that we might make space for the Holy Spirt to move more in us and through us.
And may we find something to sing about,