|Photo by Creative Commons|
We are entering a very exciting and very busy season in our society - the “Holiday Season”. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, etc. are many occasions to celebrate, eat, and go, go, go, but for many of us, this time of year, while joyous and fun, also brings a whole lot of this little, but yet big, word:
Sometimes I feel that I attract stress like a magnet. Today was just crazy, and now it’s just before midnight while I write this post. I’m headed out of town tomorrow for work but haven’t packed yet. I feel so thankful in where God has me right now, but while my cup runs over with blessings, my plate is also completely full. With the holidays coming up, all I can think about are the deadlines looming and how my husband and I will juggle the social gatherings we have to attend.
There are many things in play here that result in stress, but I don’t want to get into a lengthy discussion about boundaries, saying no, and over commitment. Those are certainly aspects of my life that I need to work on. I imagine I’m not the only one. I could also talk about society, how we’ve created a culture that is completely nonstop. It’s a culture that applauds the woman who can ‘do it all’ while still looking perfect 24/7. I feel like we have conversations about society and boundaries a good bit. We know the deep cultural ideals that lead to stress being our norm, and we know that healthy boundaries can decrease our stress.
What we don’t talk about very often is this term in my profession (social work) that we call “self care”. Self care is essentially what it sounds like, taking care of yourself. It’s taking time to relax, unwind, and refuel. It’s something that we all should do, but very few of us consciously take the time to practice. It’s practical, simple, and even Biblical.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35
He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. – Gen 2:2
God rested, Jesus went away to a quiet place, and if we dwell in the secret place, we will be under the shadow of God. These are just a few verses that come to mind when I think about “self care”. Many of us bustle around like Martha when we should be resting at the feet of Jesus like Mary (see Luke 10:38-42). We think that we are supposed to be busy, busy, busy, which usually means we are also stressed, stressed, stressed. When I am constantly on the go, I can miss out on ministry opportunities and just miss out on the simple beauties of our world. I know God didn’t intend for us to live in that way.
My sweet sisters, take some time each day to go to your "quiet place". Even if it’s only for 15 minutes and you have to sneak away, find things that help you relax and do them. Take time to read your Bible and pray, but don’t put pressure on yourself to do your devotional a certain way. Just sit in the presence of God. Take deep breaths and visualize your stress going away. Go on a walk outside and breathe fresh air. Do a favorite hobby just for the fun of it. For a few minutes each day, take care of you. God cherishes you greatly and loves you so much. He doesn’t want you to stress yourself out to burnout. You were worth Him sending His son, and He wants you to be healthy and resting in his presence.
Photo caption: Stress balls may work for a short period of time, but self care and resting in God’s presence are better bets.
Emily Laney is a social worker, educator and justice seeker. She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and loves to help startup nonprofits reach their goals. She is a Passion City Church door holder and leads a team of abolitionists at Not for Sale Georgia. She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy.
You can connect with Emily on twitter @emilylaney or on her blog www.emilylaney.com