I hear about self-care often, from memes to thoughtful friends; but what does the Bible say about self-care? I feel like I need some “me” time, and lots of women’s blogs support me in this. I can definitely find feelings that match this, as there have been times when I felt emotionally depleted and lacking in compassion towards others’ suffering. But is “me” time the answer to that? Is focusing our energies on ourselves going to help us in the long run, or will it just give us a temporary escape from our troubles? I have always enjoyed getting away on a women’s retreat, and having quiet time to myself. Who doesn’t love that? But is doing that once a year going to sustain me? I need a solution that isn’t temporary.
Our friendships grow and change over our lifetime, with some staying, some going, and some being just for a season. We know this, but our relationships can still be a source of much confusion when we’re in the thick of a conflict or when a relationship ends entirely. There have been some relationships in my life where I have felt hurt that the other person let me down, or didn’t meet my expectations. I’m sure this is a universal experience! God gave me a wonderful gift when He helped me to realize that I needed to adjust my expectations of others. I could let it bother me that someone didn’t do what I thought they should do, or I could accept that my agenda is mine, and not theirs.
As I turn the pages of my bible I see notes of dates and events next to verses that brought me comfort or peace in hard times. Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Next to that verse is written the date my grandmother died. Psalm 91:14-16, “ ‘Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.’ ” The date written here corresponds to a time of painful and difficult parenting, when my autistic son was in middle school. I once spent most of a challenging year reminding myself to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46.6).
This was physically the hardest thing I have ever done. I couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes at a time, and had to use a shower chair. I used the walker for even the shortest trips in my house. I knew underneath it all that God was certainly at work, but the pain was so brutal that I couldn’t even try to see Him. I reached a breaking point many times, weeping into the night. God didn’t take away my pain. He didn’t fix it. I knew better than to ask why He was allowing this, as I knew there would be no ready answer.
When it comes to daily time in the Word and prayer, we have a lot of reasons why it might not happen. “I know I should read my Bible every day, but I get distracted and forget.” “I meant to spend time in prayer but the kids just never give me a minute.” “I’m too busy.” We may not say these things out loud, but either we think them or we unconsciously believe them. What comes next in this cycle? Guilt, regret, lament. We are pitiful creatures that way.
The main issue is when we as Christians read a book and decide to make it our canon. The only book we should be doing that with is the Bible. No book, no author, no blog should have the power to rule your life like that. Reading the Bible and praying for God to give you discernment is the way to navigate dating, and the way to navigate life in general. There’s nothing wrong with reading books on this topic, but our ultimate authority is the Word.