Preach Jesus and practice Self-Care
In the past few weeks, I’ve seen so much online conversation in multiple articles writing “preach Jesus, not self-care”. Hear me out guys, I’m a BIG Jesus girl. I will say that it is Jesus over everything, every time. However, to know Jesus is to know his character and his word. Throughout Jesus’ life and ministry, he often took time away from all the crowds and all the noise to re-focus and spend time with God (Matt. 14:23). He knew the significance of being disciplined and how much prayer was necessary in order for him to do what he was called to do. Discipline is a part of the Christian walk. Creating biblical disciplines in our life as well as disciplines to increase and better your mental and physical health are necessary too. The bible preaches to take care of yourself (your body is a temple people). 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Google tells us that the definition of self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health.” or “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” I would suggest going to God with your stress (because he can handle all of it), but on top of that, you can also do a variety of things to DECREASE stress in your life. Practicing self-care doesn’t mean you have to be selfish, self-seeking and prideful. Making sure you are okay, mentally, physically and spiritually as well as including daily disciplines in your life can be the first step to living your BEST life.
You have a purpose to fulfill and it’s hard to step into your calling when you aren’t in a good headspace or living a healthy lifestyle. God can and will use you just the way you are but he loves you too much to not keep you the way he found you. The Christian walk is all about growth. Self-care can go hand in hand with faith in Jesus. You can read your bible, pray and go to church every day of the week but if you are browsing Facebook all day, how are you allowing God to use you? So I’m breaking this practice down into a few steps on how you can apply self-care in a healthy, biblical way.
Take care of your headspace and use your time intentionally.
It is so important to practice healthy self-talk. We often say things to ourselves we would never say to a friend. “I’m not smart enough”, “I hate ____ about my body”, or “They just don’t like you”. You would NEVER tell your friend that they aren’t smart enough or that a part of their body looks weird or that someone just doesn’t like them. Unless you were a terrible friend of course and used brutal honesty as a way of encouragement. So why do you say these mean things to yourself? Sis, Romans 8:1 tells us “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus”, so stop condemning yourself because you don’t like things about yourself. It takes discipline to change years of negative self-talk into positive, biblical self-talk. Instead of saying “I hate the way I look” quote to yourself Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well”. There are so many verses that you can sow in your spirit that will reap JOY instead of anxiety. I’m going to bet that your life does not need any more stress or anxiety in it, so why are you getting in your own way. Get out of your own way! Allow God to do good work in you, use his words not your words. His words are true always. Look at 2 Timothy 1:7
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
Fear doesn’t own you anymore. Let me say that again for the people who read too fast. FEAR DOESN’T OWN YOU ANYMORE. The fears and anxieties in your life are not your friends. They are not of the Lord. They are fighting against you. So the time you get to do some mental self-talk, let it be life-giving ONLY. Leave no room to bash the cellulite on your legs or the acne on your face, because guess what all of those imperfections remind us that we are human. We aren’t altogether perfect and we can’t all be Jennifer Aniston (p.s. Even she has insecurities). Speak God’s truth to yourself as much as you need to. Remind yourself of who you are (A child of God - Galatians 3:26). Grasp ahold of the truths of the Bible, especially the words that describe who you are to your heavenly father.
Obsession or Healthy Habit?
Personally, I know of too many people (mainly women) who obsess over their appearance. Have I ever been one of those gals? YUP. Let’s make things clear though, even though you might not like to admit it to yourself there is a big difference in creating healthy physical habits and obsessing over our appearances. Social media *cough cough (Instagram) doesn’t help us at all when it comes to comparing our bodies with the Kardashians and every other model that exists on that platform. Stop the obsession and start the redirection of your intentions. Self-Care in a physical way can make all the difference when it comes to protecting the one thing that allows us to do the good works of the Lord. I mean friend, I love McDonald’s just as much as the next girl but eating greasy french fries all week doesn’t really fill me up physically. You need nutrients, sis. Take care of what God has given you! God has given you this physical body, not to abuse it but you USE IT. Take care of your body. I’m not saying sign up for cross fit or start a Keto diet but there are simple steps you can take in taking care of your body. One thing you can do is: DRINK MORE WATER. Easy peezy right? Hate water? Well, pray about it because you need water. You also need the living water. Jesus. Ask yourself this question. Why do you want to be physically healthy or in shape? Is it because you want to look better for you? Or is it because you compare so much that you measure your physical appearance to everybody else. Do you find yourself obsessing over your weight and your body? There is a chance that obsession is unhealthy. Your mental state will often reflect in your physical body. If you are practicing biblical self-care and consistently creating healthy headspace, you have more mental capacity to actually be active. Running helps so much with relieving stress by releasing endorphins. Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate (ADAA.com). See your physical and mental states go hand in hand. It is biblically encouraged to be active. 1 Corinthians 9:27 says “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” So today stop using Jesus as an excuse to not take care of your body. Yes, put Jesus before anything you do. Make time to do both, quiet time and exercise. Does he love you just the way you are? ABSOLUTELY. He also loves you too much to leave you in an unhealthy state whether that be mentally, physically or spiritually. Like I said earlier you don’t have to be a gym junkie, just take good care of what the Lord has given you. Feed your body with things that will FUEL it. Oh, you have 30 minutes to spare? Take a walk and enjoy the nature that God made. You will not regret moving your body a little bit more than usual.
How do I practice spiritual self-care? What even is that?
Spiritual self-care comes back to creating daily disciplines for yourself. Recently, I’ve made sure to get back into the habit of spending daily time in my bible and prayer. I make time for it. Even if my schedule is pushing me or people are needing me, I make time out of my busy day to spend time with my creator. Making God the first person I talk to when I wake up and the last person I talk to when I go to sleep will make all the difference in my attitude and perspective each day. I love using the analogy of filling up a coffee cup. If you fill up your cup with Jesus, when you run into people Jesus is going to spill out of it. If you fill up your cup with Facebook drama, obsessing over Instagram, or fill in the blank, you are going to spill over possible insecurity, stress, and anger onto the people you run into. Friend, you need to establish some spiritual disciplines in your life. Jesus has got you, but you need to have you too. You need to be self-aware of the things that tear you down and trip you up. Struggle with a specific sin in your life? Are you overwhelmed when you get on social media? Be aware of what makes you start grabbing onto other things other than Jesus. I’ll be the first one to say when I start playing the comparison game on Instagram I become insecure and think “God why can’t I be successful like this girl” or “Why can’t I look as gorgeous as her”. I forget about all the things God says about me. I forget all of the successful things I have already accomplished. I start looking at other people’s goals and then slowly think that mine isn’t good enough. However, I am aware that spiritually God has called me to my purpose not anyone else. He has a unique calling on my life that is only for me to fulfill. Psalm 57:2 says “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.” Spiritual self-care, practicing daily disciplines in your spiritual walk with Jesus. Taking good care of your spirit. Keeping away from sins you know that trip you up. Surrounding yourself with godly people who will encourage you and lift you up. Also side-note, all your friends don’t have to be Christians. They don’t all have to agree with you. It is okay to be friends with people who are different than you and believe differently than you. However, it is healthy to have people in your life that are also pursuing Jesus and understand your faith. Putting spiritual disciplines in your schedule and life can be the beginning of feeling less empty and more full. Take care of your spirit. Don’t spend all your time worrying, stressing over social media, comparing your life to everyone else’s. Find your worth in Jesus, and in his word. Live out Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”.
You can love Jesus and practice self-care. Newsflash, we live in a broken world with broken bodies. We have to work hard to take care of ourselves. Allowing Jesus to mend together your broken pieces is only something he can do perfectly. But it takes you putting in the work and the disciplines to overcome the hard things in your life. Struggling with a breakup? Jesus has restoration for you, but it takes you getting into his word and talking to him. Have issues with your health or weight and you want to get in shape? Jesus has strength for you, but it’s going to take you eating more broccoli and doing some jumping jacks. Feeling anxious and depressed and maybe worried about where God is calling you? Jesus has a purpose and plan for your life. But, you need to take some steps and maybe try some things he has put in front of you because your calling could be right in front of you.
Jesus is preparing the way but we are the ones taking the steps. God can give you a calling but that call isn’t going to answer itself. YOU have to take action. Are you in a waiting period, waiting for God to speak to you? Take action in what he has in your life right now. There are people who need his truth and his love through you, TODAY.
Be the best version of yourself. Mentally. Physically. Spiritually.
Preach Jesus AND take care of what he has given you to work with.
Now go and live your best life,